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Indigenous youth in Montreal blend tradition, contemporary tricks in art exhibit at Botanical Garden

  • June 21, 2022

Indigenous youth are the driving force behind an art symposium that’s on display at Montreal’s Botanical Garden this week.

The theme of the exhibit is “We’re still here,” with First Nations and Inuit artists looking to display cultural traditions through contemporary art practices.

The symposium, which began last Sunday, is part of celebrations for Indigenous History Month.

It’s being organized by the youth council of Native Montreal — a friendship and urban Indigenous centre located in Montreal’s Sud-Ouest borough.

Johnny Boivin wanted to highlight the issue of access to clean water with his work at the exhibit. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

“The whole theme is actually resiliency and this exhibit is the perfect way to show that Indigenous youth are thriving and that we are still carrying on our traditions in the modern and contemporary world,” said Johnny Boivin, who is both Innu and Atikamekw.

“Some of the mediums used are more contemporary, but there’s still the traditional aspect to it like the beadwork and the images that are represented on some of the paintings.”

This showcase of small hoops with beads is meant to highlight the federal government’s inability to provide Indigenous communities with clean water. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

Boivin came up with the concept of seven small hoops, each of them with a different colour and partially covered in hides, with strings of beads flowing down.

“The first six ones are representing the six years in which Justin Trudeau was supposed to end all boiling advisories in [Indigenous] communities, but he failed to do it, so the last one is representing this broken promise,” Boivin said.

Jessie Arens, a youth navigator with Native Montreal, said the exhibit is helping build a sense of community among Indigenous artists in and around the city. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

Twenty Indigenous artists contributed to the symposium.

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