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The Art of Religion

Rev. Elizabeth Frazer, examines paintings with Will Kunder and Teresa Jones. The Manitou Chapter of the United Church of Canada has launched a unique art tour to mark the anniversary of their first official Apology to Aboriginal peoples.


Rev. Elizabeth Frazer, examines paintings with Will Kunder and Teresa Jones.

The Manitou Chapter of the United Church of Canada has launched a unique art tour to mark the anniversary of their first official Apology to Aboriginal peoples.

Twenty years ago the church formally acknowledged its role in the pain and suffering caused by the their involvement in operating residential schools and religions assimilation .

There art tour titled “The Manitou Collection: Celebrating the Spirit of the People,” celebrates respect and understanding between First Nations peoples and other cultures.

Artists featured are Don Assinewai, Leland Bell, Blair Debassige, Doug Fox, James Jacko, Melvin Madahbee, Stanley Panamick, Randy C. Trudeau and Tim Trudeau

Full details are contained in the release below.

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Anishinaabe Art Tour commemorates United Church Apology to First Nations

A touring exhibition of 38 original acrylic works by nine Anishinaabe artists from Manitoulin Island will be launched at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation centre at M'Chigeeng. The Manitou Collection tour will visit nine Ontario venues over 18 months.

The paintings will be available for viewing beginning Monday, May 15 at the OCF Centre, where official opening ceremonies are scheduled for 7 p.m., Friday, May 26.

The touring exhibit--- titled “The Manitou Collection: Celebrating the Spirit of the People”-- will highlight the gifts and talents of Anishinaabe artists Don Assinewai, Leland Bell, Blair Debassige, Doug Fox, James Jacko, Melvin Madahbee, Stanley Panamick, Randy C. Trudeau and Tim Trudeau as examples of the significant contribution First Nations artists continue to make to the cultural, social and economic fabric of Canadian society.

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada's first official Apology to Aboriginal peoples for the Church's role in perpetrating cultural and spiritual assimilation. The Manitou Collection tour is being co-ordinated by the United Church’s Northeastern Ontario Manitou Conference, and the WKP Kennedy Gallery in North Bay.

Rev. Will Kunder, Executive Secretary for Manitou Conference says, "We want to celebrate the creativity of these artists and enable more persons to see this art. It also our hope this exhibition will serve as a catalyst for building respect and understanding between First Nations peoples and other cultures."

In 1988, Dr. David Humphreys of Timmins donated the Manitou Collection paintings to 26 Northeastern Ontario United Church congregations in response to the church’s first Apology. In 1998, the United Church issued a second formal Apology for the pain and suffering specifically caused by the denomination's involvement in operating residential schools.

Leland Bell, one of the artists whose work is featured in the tour says, "To have my work exhibited by the United Church was very interesting for me. People ask me how I could allow my work to be used by a church, but I feel my work being displayed by a church is great. My work transcends social conditions. People see how resilient we are, how we have survived in the face of enormous pressure to disappear. We are still here. And a church acknowledging their role is important. I myself simply realized that I am not a victim. I am not in ‘survivor’ mode. I am in ‘life’ mode."

Rev. Elizabeth Frazer, Chairperson of the tour’s organizing committee, speaks of how the art affects her: "The art moves you and reminds you to slow down. It invites you to look with new eyes and to remember to give thanks. … It connects you to basic things and it speaks to your spirit. Hopefully we will have 10,000 visitors at the Exhibition who will think so as well."

After the May 15 -July 25 showing at The Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, the tour will continue to The Thunder Bay Gallery, Aug 13-19; Art Gallery of Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie, Sept. 14-Oct. 14 and the Temiskaming Gallery, Haileybury, Oct.23-Dec. 2. In 2007, WKP Kennedy Gallery, North Bay, Mar 3-31; Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford, Apr 9 – May 4; Fielding Park, Sudbury, May 14 – Jun 3; Timmins Museum, July 5 – Aug 3 and Nipissing University, North Bay, Aug 8-12.

The Manitou Collection tour represents a collaborative effort involving support and assistance of the national United Church, the Ontario Arts Council, Nipissing University, Lynn Johnston Productions, and a host of other businesses and organizations providing in-kind donations.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Teresa Jones, Coordinator
The Manitou Collection: Celebrating the Spirit of the People
terjo@vianet.ca; (705) 474-8517

Or

Dermot Wilson, Director/Curator
WKP Kennedy Gallery, North Bay
dwilson@capitolcentre.ca; (705) 474-1944 x 227

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Photos courtesy of Kevin Schofield



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