Words by Lynette La Fontaine, BC Culture Days Ambassador (Prince George)
I would like to start off by introducing myself in my cultural, traditional Cree/Métis way. Muskwamostos kesigok iskew nisagason ekwa Lynette La Fontaine. My spirit name roughly translates as bear buffalo heaven woman and I was given the French name of Lynette
La Fontaine at birth, I was born in Burns Lake, raised on the traditional, unceded territory of the Stellat’en, near Fraser Lake, BC. I am Metis with family ties in northern Saskatchewan and the Red River settlement. I now reside on the traditional, unceded territory of the Lheidli T’enneh, also known as the settler city of Prince George. I am a mom of two teenage kids; I work as a community health nurse; I am an emerging Indigenous artist working in the media of Métis beadwork and acrylic painting; and I am currently finishing a yearlong artist in residence program with Studio 2880 in Prince George, BC. I was approached and asked if I would like to apply to be a BC Culture Days ambassador. I am glad I said yes and my application was successful!
As the BC Day Culture Days Ambassador in Prince George, I wish to introduce a remarkable endeavor by a group of emerging and established Indigenous artists in northern British Columbia. I feel honoured to be included in the steering committee for the Northern Indigenous Artists’ Collective formed in the past year, which is based out of Studio 2880 in Prince George. The NIAC steering committee and the NIAC’s goal is to give inclusive, accessible, and equitable opportunities for the advancement of traditional and contemporary Indigenous arts, as well as professional development opportunities for Indigenous artists. The NIAC is accepting membership by Indigenous artists of all ages who reside in northern BC and has created a website for information on events, applications for becoming a member and scholarship opportunities.
The other seven members who currently sit on the steering committee include: Darin Corbiere, Carla Joseph, Dianne Levesque, Len Paquette, Jennifer Pighin and Mona Rock. Ivan Paquette acts as a liaison between the Community Arts Council (CAC) and the NIAC; Ivan currently serves as the Reconciliation Officer on the board of directors for the CAC.
Excitingly, the NIAC is currently planning an Indigenous arts symposium in Prince George in March 2019 for Indigenous artists across Northern BC - the first of its kind in our region!
I wish to share an important statement by Ivan Paquette: "The founding members of the Northern Indigenous Artists’ Collective feel strongly that the time is now for Indigenous artists in both the urban and rural areas of the northern region of BC. Individually and collectively we have all experienced challenges and vulnerabilities that exist in the marketplace and that tend to be unfavourable for many Indigenous artists. We look forward to finding ways of improving this situation, in the spirit of the calls-to-action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to create an Indigenous arts industry in northern BC, where all Indigenous artists feel welcomed, supported and valued.”
Lynette La Fontaine is an emerging Métis visual artist with roots in Northern Saskatchewan and the Red River Valley. She grew up on the traditional, unceded Dakelh territory of the Stella’ten, in British Columbia. Her work is inspired by connection to land, heart, spirit, ancestors and teachings from elders and knowledge holders. With the intent to honour these connections, she utilizes her preferred mediums of traditional and contemporary beadwork, mixed media, acrylic painting and fabrics. Lynette aspires to continue to gather the skills and knowledge of traditional Métis art forms - horse hair wrapping, quill work, fish scale art, moose hair embroidery, and caribou hair tufting and sculpting- through self-study and knowledge transfer by master knowledge holders. In turn, reciprocating the transfer of knowledge to others, informally and formally.
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