Friday, April 1, 2016
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  Lalakenis/All Directions: A Journey of Truth and Unity
Lalakenis/All Directions A Journey of Truth and Unity January 16-April 17, 2016 On July 2, 2014, renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artist Chief Beau Dick along with 21 companions set out from the University of British Columbia on a journey to Ottawa which they called Awalaskenis II: Journey of Truth and Unity. Intending to raise awareness about the plight of the environment and to challenge elected officials to attend to the relationship between the federal government and First Nations people, the group brought with them a copper shield made by Haida carver Giindajin Haawasti Guujaaw. On July 27, the shield was broken on Parliament Hill in a traditional copper-breaking ceremony, marking a ruptured relationship in need of repair and passing the onus of the wrongs done to Canada’s First Nations people from them to the Government of Canada. Once practised throughout the Pacific Northwest when copper shields were a symbol of justice and central to a complex economic system, this shaming right had all but disappeared until Beau Dick revived it in a similar ceremony in 2013 on the front steps of the British Columbia legislature. Along the way, the travellers visited First Nations communities across the country to gather support, using social media to draw attention to the journey. Many artists and communities contributed sacred objects to be carried forward to the copper breaking. Lalakenis/All Directions will present the broken copper shield along with the other five coppers, sacred and ceremonial objects taken on the journey and those gifted to the travellers along the way including pipes, medicine, thunder sticks and rattles, as well as the vehicle that carried them to Canada’s capital. Video, photography and narrative accounts will trace encounters along the way as well as document the social media presence of the month-long journey. Lalakenis/All Directions will reveal how ceremony and performance can be powerful tools of expression around very contemporary issues. This exhibition is made possible with the generous support of the Audain Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, and The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge the support of our Belkin Curator’s Forum members: Audain Foundation, Christopher Foundation, Nicola Flossbach, Henning and Brigitte Freybe, Michael O’Brian Family Foundation, Phil Lind Foundation, and Scott Watson and Hassan El Sherbiny. — For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at, tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689

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