LETHBRIDGE-Following September’s Reconciliation Week in Lethbridge, three local organizations are aiming to keep the discussion going through creative expression.
The second annual #YQL Expressions of Reconciliation art and media contest offers local artists of all ages a chance to win one of three cash prizes. The contest is being sponsored by United Way, the Lethbridge Indigenous Sharing Network, and the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Council.
“Last year, we received some great submissions,” said United Way executive director Janelle Marietta-Vasquez. “The pieces themselves were beautiful, but the artists’ notes also reflected the amount of thought they’d given to reconciliation and what it means for the community.”
The United Nations has declared 2019 the Year of Indigenous Languages, and all submissions to this year’s contest must have a focus on this theme. Submissions can include paintings, poetry, essays, sculptures, photography and various other mediums listed on the contest website.
Amanda Scout, Co-Chair of the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Council says that creating art is a unique way to explore the concept of reconciliation.
“Art encourages us to start the conversation inside ourselves,” she said. When we know more about a subject, we can use our creativity to share our feelings about it with our loved ones or people in our social circles.”
Marietta-Vasquez said that ultimately, the goal of the contest is to keep people thinking about reconciliation and to show that everyone, even the youngest community members, can play an important role.
“The recent adoption of ‘Oki’ as Lethbridge’s official greeting is great. I think we’ll start to hear more people use that Blackfoot greeting on a regular basis, which opens up the opportunity to have conversations. For non-Indigenous people, having conversations and being willing to learn are really important.”
Scout said that reading the City’s Reconciliation Implementation Plan is a good place to begin learning.
“It includes some of the Canadian history about residential schools, and the harms that were done, which many people still don’t know about. But more importantly, it outlines a number of recommendations, for Lethbridge specifically, to acknowledge those harms and begin to move forward as a community.”
The deadline to submit a creative expression is Friday, November 1 at 5:00pm. Following the submission deadline, a panel of judges will select the winners, to be announced to the public on November 19.