Winners have been notified, and prizes have been awarded in the third annual #YQL Expressions of Reconciliation Art & Media Contest.
“It’s been a challenging year where a lot of events have been modified or cancelled,” said Connolly Tate-Mitchell, marketing and communications coordinator at United Way. “But we’re very glad we were able to move forward with this one. It’s an opportunity to remind our community that we need to be thinking about reconciliation beyond the City of Lethbridge’s Reconciliation Week in September.”
The theme of the contest was Indigenous Plants & Medicines to coincide with the United Nations declaration of 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health. Cash prizes were awarded to first, second and third place winners, and a “People’s Choice” prize was awarded based on the results of a social media vote on Facebook. The Southern Alberta Art Gallery also provided a one-year membership to each submitting artist.
First place contest winner Star Crop Eared Wolf is a multi-discipline artist from Kainai/Blood Tribe.
Contest winner Star Crop Eared Wolf said the inspiration for her piece came through her work at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, where she had been collecting flowers and plants for education programs.
“These were all plants traditionally used by the Blackfoot” she said. “I collected them from the plains area and the mountains to put together the shape of the Blackfoot person – the Matapi.”
Arranging the flowers and plants into the shape of a person represents the important relationship that Indigenous people have with the environment, both historically and today, and reinforces the idea that all humans are not separate from the land.
Second place winner Chataya Holy Singer’s pen and ink design was also featured on Reconciliation Week T-Shirts in September. The artist said she’s happy to see her work on display as part of the contest as well.
“There were people who didn’t get a shirt in September, so it’s nice that they can see it here,” she explained. “It’s great to be recognized as an emerging Blackfoot artist in the community.”
Although COVID-19 restrictions prevented a gathering to celebrate the artists, all of the six submissions will be on display in The Gallery at CASA through December. They are also available to view on United Way's Facebook Page.
United Way would like to thank the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee, the Lethbridge Indigenous Sharing Network, The Gallery at CASA, and the Southern Alberta Art Gallery for sponsoring the prizes, providing display space, and helping us to choose the winners from among a group of talented artists. We also thank each artist for submitting their powerful work, and allowing us to share their stories.