Student’s work inspired by art of Sinàmkin, Jody Broomfield titled
HONOURING OUR GATHERERS
The area where Norgate Elementary School now resides was once a very important berry picking haven for the local Indigenous peoples. Squamish ancestors cultivated a place of nourishment through the blueberry plants for their community.
I feel honored to be able to write about what “Berry Pickers” represents for the Squamish Nation and what this nation has generously given to the Norgate Elementary School. This artwork was created for the entryway to Norgate Elementary School.
I am a descendant of Amazonian Indians in Brazil. The story that “Berry Pickers” told me through the skilled hands of the Indigenous artist, Jody Broomfield, made me feel at home.
My father’s grandfather was Indigenous. He was born in a small community near the city of Manaus in the state of Amazonas in Brazil. A primary school was named after my grandfather, “Chico Sa”. A special kind of seed, Guaraná, grew in the Chico Sa area with which Brazilians made a soft drink that later became extremely popular.
I arrived in Canada just over a year ago. I want to learn the culture and be useful in the community. I never thought it would be easy to leave my country and start a new life in a different country. However, I had to be resilient in the face of difficulties with the new language and my appearance.
The readings and assignments in this course were relevant to my life and impacted me. I felt challenged and motivated to think and rethink some concepts learned throughout my life.
The concept of place is related to our identity. What intrigues me most is to think that places are structured in the relationship of the “I” with the “other” and are the stages of our life stories. In diverse places, such as North American, we need to talk about racism, which is often veiled, but present in all societies.
Over the decades, history has not been easy for the Indigenous, Black, and religious minorities who had to fight epidemics, wars, slavery, and systemic racism. It is crucial to draw attention to the fact that becoming marginalized is not a choice. People and groups are pushed into this condition by or through social and economic inequalities, cultural factors, and even individual circumstances, such as feeling displacement and not belonging.
During the Brazilian historical context (from 1500 to the present day), Indigenous peoples went through a process of conquest, physical decimation (genocide) and cultural violence (ethnocide) initiated by the Portuguese. Historically, Indigenous education has been linked to the catechesis of the Indians, appeasing them, making them docile and submissive to the needs of the colonizer. The Brazilian people also need to go through reconciliation. Reconciliation begins in each of us.
Gray Smith (2017) reminds us about the lived experiences of Indigenous children and their families at the residential school system. Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous peoples has been affected both by the residential education system and by the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact of these schools. A fundamental part of honesty is to recognize and accept the truth. I feel responsible for telling this truth to the young citizens, so that we can learn from it and ensure that it never happens again.
Living together and finding harmony in relationships is a challenge. Human beings need to be connected with each other to live well. Larsen and Johnson (2017) ask us to search for a new path that would take us to places where people struggle with the question of how to live well together. Therefore, I started to experience difficulties in my memories and began searching for ways to overcome the challenges of living well together.
I am very happy to share through my dance the respect I have for the entire indigenous community. Dancing in this land is a privilege. All peoples and nations can dance together to celebrate life. This dance is my tribute to everyone who understands what it is to coexist.
– Augusta Forte
Gray Smith (2017) introduces “the seven sacred teachings,” which include “honesty, respect, love, courage, truth, humility and wisdom” (p. 22). By following this teaching, people could be respectful and peaceful.
I use Dance Pedagogy to convey a message of love, respect, and gratitude to nature for the food it provides us. “Our involvement with the land can be through the exchange of stories in culture. It can be participation in a multitude of artistic experiences, such as storytelling, writing poetry and prose, creating visual arts, dancing” (Collellmir, 2013, p. 57).
We need to draw people’s attention to the messages that art wants to convey to us. When I was performing my artistic response, I invited the public to witness my life and joy. Some people watched my dance because it was in a public place, but they did not want to speak and they kept their social distance. I felt completely free. I really wanted to send a message of gratitude to Mother Earth for allowing us to have feelings that are difficult to express in words.
Dance connected me to the history of people who took care of the land, made it fertile, and knew how to share the benefits of the harvest with their community. I was connected with mother earth, the birds, insects, plants, and flowers. We were welcomed at the time of the blueberries harvest and the guarana seed.
Artist Jody Broomfield’s message in his artwork is that history can be immortalized through a work of art. Time can erase the shine of the piece, but it will never erase the story it contains. Time passes, but the memory remains to mark lives.