Nimiyosimacihon Ispihk

Lana Whiskeyjack

These murals are inspired by the interviews and paintings in Nimiyosimacihon Ispihk (exhibition in City Hall, City Room East). Contributers: Marcel Dejarlais, Camille Louis, Svitlana Kravchuk, Emery Whiskeyjack, James Lamouche.

Lana gives great gratitude for being an iskwew, a Cree woman, born of this earth and from the wombs of her mothers’ mothers’ mothers, many of whom were midwives, medicine women, hunters and gatherers, warriors, singers, artists, healers, educators, and helpers. She creates to honour the legacy they left behind for her to carry, acknowledging and sharing her gifts. She paints that which words cannot fully express. To create art is ceremony, connecting with spirit, activating the mind in ways that only art can. In this place of strength she also recognizes a reality of deep fear every day for the simple reason of being an iskwew. We live in a society where violence and exclusion in all forms are more likely to happen to an indigenous woman and child. Our vulnerability reflects modern society’s values. Although the artist lives with this fear, she recognizes her grandmother’s greatest teaching: to have courage to confront her fears with a deep sense of knowing and gratitude that she is an iskwew. She is born from the wombs of powerful iskwewak, Cree women. These paintings are to honour and reflect the brilliance, strength, and resilience of her relatives so they may leave a legacy to our future generation. These are powerful iskwewak reclaiming their beauty and sacredness every day in the work they do, the songs they sing, and the way they connect with all life.

Biography

Lana Whiskeyjack is a multidisciplinary treaty iskwew artist from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, Treaty Six Territory, Alberta. Among her early influences were her mother’s creative skills in traditional arts and her grandmother’s gifts in quilting and song. Lana studied visual arts focusing on ceramic sculpture at Red Deer College and University of Alberta, and environmental sculpture at Pont Aven Ecole des Arts, France. Lana followed the love of her life to Ottawa where she surrendered to academic studies, completing B.A. and M.A. degrees at Carleton University. She is currently reprogramming her brain and filling her spirit by completing her Doctorate, combining both academic and artistic skills at the University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills, a former Indian Residential School where both her mother and grandmother attended. Her research, writing, and art express the great beauty and intergenerational resilience of being a human of this earth “ayisîyiniw ôta asiskiy”.