Design workshop in Little Pine First Nation

On a cold September afternoon, Michael Peterson and I drove the 200 kilometres northwest from Saskatoon up to Little Pine First Nation to give a workshop to get community input into shaping our art and technology project. Our project explores how technology can be used to enhance art experiences. When we arrived, a small gathering of local artists welcomed us into the community. Small talk ensued over bannock and warm drinks. I was surprised about how openly individuals talked about themselves and their art careers and the challenges they faced in order to create art in their community. Beading, painting, spoken word poetry, and drama were among the media practised by the group. One individual strongly emphasized that she wanted art to come to her and she didn’t want to have to travel whether for workshops or gallery openings. It was very evident that time, money and distance were issues for these individuals in their quest to thoroughly enjoy art. During our discussions, it was mentioned that this was the first time that artists in the community had actually met up together and they wished they could do it again. As we were going through the workshop, many curious individuals from the community popped in to see what we were doing and introduce themselves. In response to our question about an enjoyable art experience, one gentleman talked about painting a mural in the old community hall and how rewarding it was that his community supported his work and took pride in it. A woman spoke of the negative responses she received from others around her wanting to follow an arts oriented career. All the women there spoke of the stereotypes and discrimination they faced as aboriginal women. Most of the artists really wished they had access to workshops where they could advance their skills. They wanted to attend these workshops in person rather than online. It was also mentioned that it would be wonderful to have art exhibitions that could travel to their community and perhaps be showcased in their community hall for everyone. One individual wished that being a serious artist had a more respected status in the community and beyond. I found it interesting how many of the responses from this small community were not so different from individuals’ responses in other communities. The group seemed very excited about our project and invited us to come back. 

Written by Caila Robson-Kullman, User Engagement Team Member