Mikw Chyiam Arist in Residency
Wiinebeku High School - Wakaganish, Eeyou Istchee Land, Northern Quebec
Last fall, I had the honour of representing the Mikw Chyiam Art Concentration program and facilitating a great art-based curriculum project on the south-east shore of James Bay in the Eeyou Istchee territory in Northern Quebec, Canada.
Mikw Chiyâm is a Cree School Board initiative for the development of an Arts Education Concentration Program in high schools in Quebec and British Colombia. This interdisciplinary enrichment program aims to increase student retention by reinforcing Cree identity through artistic expression.
During my stay, I co-planned teaching units and activities based on graffiti, creative typography and poster designs that connected visual art to the school curriculum objectives. I facilitated the conception, creation and development of informal learning methods and creative educational activities. I also produced a collective mural that paid homage to the Waskaganish community and Wiinebeku School. For the mural, young kids, teens, teachers from the school and Jake, an elder and now good friend from Nemaska, assisted me.
This was an unforgettable experience. The nature there is beautiful and I got to witness unforgettable sunsets and landscapes. I had the privilege of eating at a local feast that took all day to prepare and included fresh smoked fish (I must have eaten at least 20 over my 6 week stay!), fresh blueberry jam and bantik (a succulent simple bread). I hung out with amazingly welcoming and warm community elders and various individuals, and most of all made some timeless friends.
I would really like to thank the whole Mikw Chyam, Team, Katie Green, Dave Hodge, Sabrina Bejba and Lina Moreno, the Cree School Board and Wiinebeku School for trusting me for this unforgettable opportunity.
This experience really helped shape my perception of First Nations communities and opened up a brand new world that I never knew existed before. They are the most down to earth individuals I’ve met so far in my life. Their love, knowledge and respect for our beautiful planet, their land and traditions are second to none and have me questioning my own identity as a black Haitian in Quebec.
I hope I will have the chance to meet all of you again and experience other Indigenous cultures around the world - I have grown as a person because of them.