Kwey, tansi, she:kon, tunngasugitsi, bonjour, and welcome to the 16th Annual New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts: An Energy Worthy of Healing. As in the past, we acknowledge with gratitude the hospitality of the Algonquin people on whose traditional unceded territory we gather today.
The theme of this year’s conference is taken from a reflection on last year’s 15th Annual New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts: Above the Noise, by Anishinaabe artist and presenter Robert Houle, who said the conference had “an energy worthy of healing.”
And so it did, but such energy is a distinctive hallmark of the New Sun Conference and the broader New Sun community gathered here today. It is a potent mix of excitement, anticipation, hope, empathy, solidarity, and support, coupled with a desire to be enlightened, inspired, entertained, and possibly surprised.
It is an energy manifested in a collective desire to actively engage in change and healing. In light of the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it offers an opportunity for each of us to assess (or re-assess) our own particular gifts—and we all have gifts—to see what role we might play in the healing process.
Healing through the arts has been an integral theme of the New Sun Conference since its inception in 2002, foregrounding the practices of artist-activists and cultural workers committed to healing relationships among individuals, families and communities. In this, their artwork acts as a catalyst or touchstone, serving to initiate important cultural and cross-cultural conversations on issues that might otherwise be difficult to articulate. And this healing tradition continues here today.
It is not surprising to find a strong connection between cultural and cross-cultural healing and education. As it celebrates its 75th anniversary, Carleton University is committed to an increased Indigenous presence on campus and increased incorporation of Indigenous ways of knowing and learning in the university curriculum. Support for the New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts is but one sign of Carleton’s commitment. It is also no surprise to find that all of today’s presenters are actively involved in education as instructors, mentors, scholars, public speakers and most definitely as role models.
Today, their voices, co-mingled with yours, will no doubt create an energy worthy of healing. Watch for this to happen, and enjoy!
All my relations,
Allan J. Ryan
A presentation of the New Sun Chair in Aboriginal Art and Culture
with the support of the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, the National Gallery of Canada,
and the generosity of private donors