Updated:
Original:

Montreal Showcases Artists in the First of a Two-Part Celebration

MONTREAL ñ The 16th Annual First Peoplesí Festival kicked off in Montreal on May 25 with 15 days focused on aboriginal arts, crafts and films.

ìThis part of the festival is more about traditional arts and crafts,î said Andre Dudemaine, director of the festival. ìWe have various artistsí work on display in several of Montrealís museums and we are showing films throughout the city.î

The festival, hosted by Land InSights, a nonprofit, governmentally funded organization, expanded the 2006 festival into two parts. The first part of the festival, which includes a film festival, runs from May 25 to June 8. The festival resumes with its second part on June 21, Canadaís National Aboriginal Day, and concludes on June 25.

Dudemaine said the festival was split because of other events planned in Montreal this summer that may have overshadowed the educational portion of the festival.

ìThere are several reasons to celebrate this festival,î he said. ìThe first is to be a showcase of aboriginal creativities from the First Nations people.î

Dudemaine said the festival also provides a space for intercultural dialogue.

ìWe know the city of Montreal is becoming more of a diverse place because we have a lot of people moving here from other countries,î he said. ìWe have a lot of diverse cultures living with one another. It is important, as the first people of this continent, that we be involved and send our own message of welcoming.î

The festival began with an exhibition opening at the Canadian Guild of Crafts. The work of 11 artists from Nunavik was on display and for sale. The opening was also a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the guild, which frequently gives aboriginal artists a place to show and sell their work.

ìThese are masterpieces that were done especially for this exhibit,î said Diane Labelle, management director at the guild. ìWe asked them to bring their best sculptures or create their best sculptures for the show.î

The exhibit, entitled ìMetamorphosis,î brought together 11 sculptors, judged by their peers to be among the most important sculptors in the region. Made of serpentine, a major rock-forming mineral, the sculptures are varied in size. Many artists showcased several small pieces or a few large sculptures, which sell for more than $10,000 apiece.

ìWe want to show the public what real Inuit art is,î Labelle said. ìItís more than just bears and walruses.î

The guild has worked with the First Peoples Festival in the past and Labelle said itís a good way to make connections with new artists.

The festival, which seeks to educate the public about the indigenous people of North America, also included a symposium on Haida art.

Robert Davidson, Haida, was the featured artist at the symposium. Davidson is a painter, printmaker, wood carver, jeweler and sculptor who was born in Hydaburg, Alaska, and raised in Old Massett on Haida Gwaii. Various pieces of his work are on display at the McCord Museum in Montreal, which will run through Oct. 15.

Davidsonís father, Claude Davidson, and grandfather, Robert Davidson, are also famous for their work as Haida artists.

ìI celebrate the art of my ancestors,î Davidson said. ìI feel very blessed to have come from a very culturally rich family.î

Davidson and other scholars spoke to a diverse crowd about Haida artwork and techniques.

ìWe donít have a word for ëartí in our language,î Davidson said. ìI think the trend right now is to emulate the old masters.î

More than 50 films by or about the indigenous people of North America were included in the festival. Several of the films were world premiers, including the launching of ìAvoir un indien de reserve,î a film about John Tenasco, an Algonquin from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg reserve near Maniwaki, Quebec.

Tenascoís paintings were on display at a luncheon before the premier of the film directed by Frederic Leterrier.

ìYou can hardly call this an exhibit of Johnís paintings,î said Dudemaine at the luncheon. ìThis is more of an honoring of his great work.î

Other films, in French and in English, will play through June 8 at two of Montrealís cinemas and on the Mohawk reserve, Kanehsatake, Dudemaine said.

ìWhen we started this festival 16 years ago, we barely had 10 films and a budget of $7,000,î Dudemaine said. ìAnd now we have a wide variety of films and about a $700,000 budget.î

MONTREAL ñ The 16th Annual First Peoplesí Festival kicked off in Montreal on May 25 with 15 days focused on aboriginal arts, crafts and films.ìThis part of the festival is more about traditional arts and crafts,î said Andre Dudemaine, director of the festival. ìWe have various artistsí work on display in several of Montrealís museums and we are showing films throughout the city.îThe festival, hosted by Land InSights, a nonprofit, governmentally funded organization, expanded the 2006 festival into two parts. The first part of the festival, which includes a film festival, runs from May 25 to June 8. The festival resumes with its second part on June 21, Canadaís National Aboriginal Day, and concludes on June 25.Dudemaine said the festival was split because of other events planned in Montreal this summer that may have overshadowed the educational portion of the festival.ìThere are several reasons to celebrate this festival,î he said. ìThe first is to be a showcase of aboriginal creativities from the First Nations people.îDudemaine said the festival also provides a space for intercultural dialogue.ìWe know the city of Montreal is becoming more of a diverse place because we have a lot of people moving here from other countries,î he said. ìWe have a lot of diverse cultures living with one another. It is important, as the first people of this continent, that we be involved and send our own message of welcoming.îThe festival began with an exhibition opening at the Canadian Guild of Crafts. The work of 11 artists from Nunavik was on display and for sale. The opening was also a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the guild, which frequently gives aboriginal artists a place to show and sell their work.ìThese are masterpieces that were done especially for this exhibit,î said Diane Labelle, management director at the guild. ìWe asked them to bring their best sculptures or create their best sculptures for the show.îThe exhibit, entitled ìMetamorphosis,î brought together 11 sculptors, judged by their peers to be among the most important sculptors in the region. Made of serpentine, a major rock-forming mineral, the sculptures are varied in size. Many artists showcased several small pieces or a few large sculptures, which sell for more than $10,000 apiece.ìWe want to show the public what real Inuit art is,î Labelle said. ìItís more than just bears and walruses.îThe guild has worked with the First Peoples Festival in the past and Labelle said itís a good way to make connections with new artists.The festival, which seeks to educate the public about the indigenous people of North America, also included a symposium on Haida art.Robert Davidson, Haida, was the featured artist at the symposium. Davidson is a painter, printmaker, wood carver, jeweler and sculptor who was born in Hydaburg, Alaska, and raised in Old Massett on Haida Gwaii. Various pieces of his work are on display at the McCord Museum in Montreal, which will run through Oct. 15. Davidsonís father, Claude Davidson, and grandfather, Robert Davidson, are also famous for their work as Haida artists.ìI celebrate the art of my ancestors,î Davidson said. ìI feel very blessed to have come from a very culturally rich family.îDavidson and other scholars spoke to a diverse crowd about Haida artwork and techniques.ìWe donít have a word for ëartí in our language,î Davidson said. ìI think the trend right now is to emulate the old masters.îMore than 50 films by or about the indigenous people of North America were included in the festival. Several of the films were world premiers, including the launching of ìAvoir un indien de reserve,î a film about John Tenasco, an Algonquin from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg reserve near Maniwaki, Quebec.Tenascoís paintings were on display at a luncheon before the premier of the film directed by Frederic Leterrier.ìYou can hardly call this an exhibit of Johnís paintings,î said Dudemaine at the luncheon. ìThis is more of an honoring of his great work.îOther films, in French and in English, will play through June 8 at two of Montrealís cinemas and on the Mohawk reserve, Kanehsatake, Dudemaine said.ìWhen we started this festival 16 years ago, we barely had 10 films and a budget of $7,000,î Dudemaine said. ìAnd now we have a wide variety of films and about a $700,000 budget.î