Two unique events April 14 and 15 at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre by the Community Arts Council of Williams Lake (CACWL) will use art to take action aimed at building community.
Venta Rutkauskas, CACWL program manager, reluctantly uses the terms reconciliation and decolonizing in her promotion of A Come-Unity Event – Storytelling, Making and Song. But she said she only uses them because they are recognizable, not because they fully express her intent.
While those are philosophical words, Rutkauskas said she believes the priority should be planning and taking action.
Therefore, she has put together a two-part event to centre Indigenous artists and stories to use art to listen, connect and build relationships.
“We know that art gets us thinking,” said Rutkauskas, noting Friday will be about storytelling while Saturday will be more about using our hands and taking action, but storytelling will be woven throughout.
On Friday, April 14, starting at 6 p.m., anyone can come and enjoy an evening of songs and storytelling. Rebecca Solomon, aka Beka Solo, Sonya Littlejohn, Danikka Murphy, and Aubrey Jackson will be performing. Admission is by donation.
Saturday, April 15, beginning at 9 a.m., stories, movement, medicine-making and more stories will take place. Herbalist Maggie Ranger will be leading medicine making, helping to ground participants back to the land. Margaret Anne Enders of Awakenings Anti-Racism and Cleo Beaulieu will also be facilitating.
The Saturday workshop is $25 and participants can register by emailing email@example.com.
Rutkauskas said the project is her brainchild, an idea which has been percolating with her for some time now. She has spent the last few years being mentored by two Secwepemc women.
“That process has just deepened my understanding of what’s needed or what we can try through arts-based lenses to encourage more understanding and awareness of Indigenous relationships in our local area,” she explained.
Her mentors are Helen Sandy, a local Tlexelc photographer, well-known for her knowledge around traditional salmon preparation and preservation, and recognized as an elder and Meeka Noelle Morgan, the artistic director of Two Rivers Remix Society, a music and learning platform.
The respect for both women is audible as she describes their many talents and depth of knowledge.