Indigenous artists Home at Calgary exhibit

Ivan Eagletail, right, performs his flute at the opening of The Land is Home Indigenous art exhibition at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Nature Centre in Calgary on Thursday, April 7, 2022. The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Nature Centre was closed for the past year, and it has reopened after renovations were made. The Indigenous art exhibition is seasonal, with spring continuing until July 5, 2022. (Alejandro Melgar FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY)

Local Indigenous artists have returned home in a new art exhibition curated by the City of Calgary.

The Land is Home is an art exhibition inside the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Nature Centre.

Indigenous artists from the Blackfoot, Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda First Nation will be featured in the exhibit.

The themes are a connection with land and nature and is a seasonal exhibit starting with spring called Flight/Arrival/Memory.

The exhibit’s goal, funded by an Alberta Environment Parks grant, is to connect Calgarians with the Indigenous connections to nature and land.

“When you encounter each art piece, we hope you will be inspired to remember the long history of this land and think about the role that each of us can play in protecting our environment for future generations,” said Kyle Ripley, director of Calgary parks, in a press release.

The first night of many

This is the first major exhibit The City has put on since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“It’s quite significant, because it’s Indigenous artists, specifically from Treaty 7 signatory nations, and it’s a new building with new artwork,” said Jessica McMann, an artist and Indigenous Curator with the City of Calgary Public Art Program

“This exhibit is a step in the right direction, because it honours those who were on this land before Calgary even existed.”

The opening exhibit featured a prayer from Elder Ron Scout, Siksika Nation, spoken word from featured artist Henry Heavyshield, Kainai First Nation, words from McMann and Tara Manyfingers, Kainai First Nation, and a flute performance by Ivan Eagletail of the Tsuut’ina First Nation.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek was present with roughly 30 people in the intimate opening.

“I’m very impressed to see her here,” said Elder Ron Scout, who opened the exhibit with a traditional prayer in Blackfoot.

“I’m not here to tell her how to do her job, she’s eminently qualified. It’s nice to see her show up, but we have a long way to go.”

What we do today changes tomorrow

Mayor Jyoti Gondek, centre, talks with Henry Heavyshield, left, and Tara Manyfingers at The Land is Home Indigenous art exhibition at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Nature Centre in Calgary on Thursday, April 7, 2022. Heavyshield and Manyfingers, Kainai First Nations, are the featured artists for the art exhibit. The Indigenous art exhibition is seasonal, with spring continuing until July 5, 2022. ALEJANDRO MELGAR FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Heavyshield and Manyfingers are part of the spring exhibition that will continue until mid-July, when the summer exhibit, Divine Feminine, opens.

The artists were selected by a panel of members from the Moh’kinsstsis Public Art Guiding Circle.

“These sorts of spaces didn’t feature – not just Indigenous, but BIPOC voices in general. And just in the last few years, you start seeing changes like this,” said Henry Heavyshield.

The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., with the spring exhibit open until July 5.

“It’s really meaningful when [The City] dedicates spaces and makes them more welcome to Indigenous voices and underrepresented causes.”

Scout said this is a good step forward.

“With the way it’s going right now, we can’t lose momentum. There needs to be recognition for a lot of Native artists. They’re good, they’re not just chicken scratch,” said Scout.

“The past is done. You can’t go back. What we do today changes tomorrow.”

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