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Storytelling & Reconciliation through the arts

Engaging local Indigenous artists to tell their story of Reconciliation through visual art has been a focus of this year's Reconciliation Week. 

Through two opportunities for submissions, the City of Lethbridge and the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee (RLAC) have worked to curate a public gallery for the week.  

“Finding new ways to engage the community in learning and honouring Reconciliation is something we aim to do every year,” says Indigenous Relations Advisor, Charlene Bruised Head Mountain Horse. “By having this week-long, pop-up gallery in City Hall, we’re able to showcase works from Indigenous artists of all ages and abilities and provide a space for them to tell their Reconciliation story.” 

Working in a range of mediums, the artworks show the story of how each artist sees Reconciliation in Sikóóhkotok (Lethbridge). Piikani Nation artist, Deserae Ootoh’kotskinna (Yellow Horn), describes the story behind her Orange Shirt design.  

“The top reflection reveals how powerful children are after reclaiming ceremony. They have their identity and they each have a headdress signifying their power and potential,” says Ootoh’kotskinna. “The ceremony poles have a baby tied to each of them, reminiscent of the story of Katoyiss (Blood Clot) who was held up to the four main poles of the ceremony lodge/teepee and grew each time as held up to each pole, into Katoyiss, a man.” 

“He was sent by the creator, as the children are to heal the older generation by becoming great leaders for the next generation. Naato’si (the Sun) shines brightly on our future generations and the past no longer holds power and fades to gray,” continues Ootoh’kotskinna. “The bottom of the reflection shows a lack of light, love, family, life and identity amongst the children. The ceremony is dull and unwelcoming. It is meant to kill the child, in the child.”  

Local artist and recent Catholic Central High School graduate, Kellita Day Chief, says her submission shows the true story of Pochontas.  

“I created this two-part piece to showcase the real story of Pochontas,” says Day Chief. “I believe that the true origin should be known. She was one of the first recorded MMIW victims (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s-Girls-2spirit). John Smith was a full-grown man; she was just a little girl. (My works show her as) seen is her in her ”Disney State” and her in her “Real Life State”. She was just a child.”   

Residents can pick-up this year’s Orange Shirt by donation at Opokaa’sin Early Intervention Society, with all funds raised going back to the Society.  

The Reconciliation Week pop-up gallery is available for viewing at City Hall from Monday, September 25 through to Friday, September 29 from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 

For Public Inquiries:

Call 311 | Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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