Last week I had the great fortune to meet two amazing men. LOUIS BIRD legendary and tireless collector of stories from his Cree elders, in order to preserve, document, share and celebrate them and photographing him, here in Manitoba, the fabulous, self-taught pencil artist, GERALD KUEHL.
Louis Bird of the Omushkegowak Cree people from the Hudson and James Bay lowlands of Northern Manitoba and Ontario is in his eighties and has been documenting stories told by his elders since 1965. This afternoon I will hear him tell some of those stories. You can hear some, in either English or Cree at: http://www.ourvoices.ca/index/ourvoices-browse-action
Gerald Kuehl has been creating amazing pencil portraits of indigenous elders from the North and Far North since 1997. Don’t take my word for it, here is a link to his website where you can view some of his portraits: http://www.portraitsofthenorth.com/gallery.html
I feel humbled by many of the people I’ve met while I have been here, their creative drive, their urge to acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, their dedication to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration and also the generosity shown by strangers - apart from those car owners who don’t appear to see cyclists even when they are on cycle paths!
My sadness is the loss of all the young indigenous young women who have disappeared. Known as the Red River women because so many were killed or went missing close by that river, a recent protest had people hanging red dresses from trees in rememberance.
The Museum of Human Rights in downtown Winnipeg is quite an achievement. A Silver Level sustainable building, there are six levels of exhibits and galleries, education projects, book launches, an oral history project and much more. Examining Human Rights abuses and also achievements worldwide, there is also a section looking at Canada’s own past record, both positive and negative.
A few days ago I went to Fort Whyte with fellow writer, Ranee Parker, to see part of the geese migration and we just missed the birth of a baby bison. Drinking coffee, eating cookies, standing by the lake as it slowly grew dark; watching thousands of geese flying in to land on the water and chatter non-stop with each other - while moving around and creating intricate pattern formations on the lake surface - was a great experience.
Shared a lovely Thanksgiving Dinner with Heather and Robb, their family and friends last night. Lovely, talented and welcoming people.