Art is an integral part of the preservation and expression of culture in Indigenous communities. And Canada is a treasure trove of Indigenous art. Spanning thousands of years has shaped the country’s cultural identity. Indigenous artists express of the people who have inhabited these lands for generations. In fact, it draws inspiration from their close relationship with the natural environment. When I do art I try and draw inspiration from the Vancouver area. In the same fashion as they do, finding beauty in the area.
Traditional Indigenous art comes in many forms. From moose hair embroidery, painted caribou hide coats, to deer hide moccasins. Or porcupine quillwork on birch bark, intricate beadwork, and colourful paintings. Contemporary Indigenous artists explore the history and heritage of their ancestors.
British Columbia has a variety of art galleries owned and operated by Indigenous people. Like the Wind Spirit Art in Powell River by renowned Haida artist April White. Housed in a Northwest Coast longhouse. With a carved and painted cedar plank, exterior and doors of beaten copper Eagle Aerie Gallery. Located in Tofino. Owned by Roy Henry Vickers.
Prince Edward Island
Notably on PEI, on Malpeque Bay, is the Indian Art & Craft store. With traditional Mi’kmaq crafted art, such as ash splint baskets, pottery and figurines. Alongside works by other First Nations artists. Including wood, bone, horn, stone and semi-precious stone sculptures. As well as birch bark items, miniature wigwam and sweet grass brooms that is in a word amazing.
Likewise in Nova Scotia, the Mi’kmaq artists from eastern Canada conveys the importance between the land, Indigenous culture, language and visual identity. For example, the Mi’kmaq artist Alan Syliboy is influenced by ancestral rock drawing and quill weaving traditions. He creates vibrantly coloured artworks in acrylic and mixed media, exploring the themes of connection, family, spirituality, struggle and strength.
Yukon is definitely a fertile ground for artistic expression, home to many First Nations artists. They create inspired by traditional images and legends passed down through generations. From hide, fur, and beaded clothing to antler jewelry. In addition to Ravenstail and Chilkat weaving and mastodon ivory carvings. These artists display and sell their work at cultural centers, local galleries and their homes. The Yukon First Nation Culture & Tourism Association is the go-to for detailed information.
To be sure, the history of Canada is told through Aboriginal art. It shows the amazing beauty of the area but also telling the history of Canada. For this reason, we encourage you to see the art for yourself. Moreover, get out and explore the area. It is important to realize the beauty of the area we live in and also to record the history.