Impressions of the Day

Dear Sir,
Where shall I start and what shall I say!? Well, I’ll start by congratulating you on the conference for providing this wonderful opportunity for people to interact. My high appreciation for your invitation [and complementary registration] can not be described by a simple thank you. Fun, educative, and interesting are not sufficient words to express my experience, I shall use nourishing instead. This event has somehow made me more Canadian, more settled, more human. It is a wonderful experience. From films to paintings to playwrighting to songs, even to food, we were profoundly introduced to the aboriginal communities who are not so distant after all. We share a lot of their concerns and we certainly lived a day in their milieu. In fact, this is what made the conference so special. How often does one live a conference? It was joyfully active, not at all passive. I’ll spare the details for our next encounter, for now, I would like to inform you of a spontaneous decision of mine; as soon as I am settled down (financially), I would like to make an extremely humble contribution by buying two student tickets for next year’s conference for you to offer to a couple of students who would like to attend the conference but can’t fit it into their financial agenda. It was such a noble gesture of you to feel that I should be at that conference, and my wish is that I could, in turn, pass this gesture on to other persons. Further my respect, gratitude and congratulations.

Hey Professor Ryan,
I just wanted to take the time to thank you for allowing me to attend this year’s 6th New Sun Conference. It was amazing. The contemporary art that was presented was a real eye-opener and surprisingly relevant to my current research. By surprisingly, I mean that although the presentations were on art, it actually fed into the cultural studies that I have been focusing on and introduced me to some new processes of thought. I also appreciated the different types of people that you invite to this event. It offered the chance for myself and others to engage in some very interesting discussions over the day. I am really happy that I have been able to participate in two of these conferences thus far because of the importance they have on my life. Next year I’ll be attending Trent University, but I can assure you that I’ll be making the trek back with the rest of the guests to attend the 7th annual conference.

Thank you so much again for the day, it was an amazing cultural experience that can break the stereotypes of what aboriginal art is and it’s a shame that other schools around Canada don’t provide the same opportunity. Great Job!

Just a short note to let you know how much I enjoyed the 6th New Sun Conference, March 3rd. Great ambience, food, and camaraderie… The big plus was an enhanced understanding of the art and cultural pursuits of our First Peoples. The Taima group was exceptional. Elisapie has a beautiful singing voice.

I enjoyed this year’s New Sun Conference. All the participants were excellent and the overall balance was good. Thanks for including Ryan Rice and Barry Ace; I think it’s important to feature new curatorial voices, a natural outgrowth of the artistic activity amongst aboriginal peoples.

Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunity to attend the New Sun Conference. I appreciate the conference very much as it was wonderfully educational for me, a new immigrant to Canada. The New Sun Conference has brought me another view of Canada, my adopted home country. Thanks to the conference, I have realized that there are many layers of history in this country that need to be excavated. How can immigrants like myself approach and appreciate the richness of aboriginal culture and history? Conferences such as this are rare but offer an extremely valuable opportunity for us to get together to appreciate what has been achieved and also to realize that we have a long way to go. It is hard to show enough appreciation for the organization of the conference. The part about Annie Pootoogook and her own narrative blurred the border of life and art. Annie’s drawings appear to me like breath. I appreciate that the New Sun Conference didn’t turn out like a normal academic conference, although the content of the discussions was very deep, rich, and sophisticated. I still remember very well what Annie said, “I draw what I see, I don’t draw what I don’t see.” Her drawings retain the level of honesty and simplicity, which touches people’s hearts. And what touches our hearts is what will stay. The selection of presenters and the messages, which have been sent out by the New Sun conference, reflected a vision which can be described as truly brilliant. Many thanks.

Thank you, Allan, for once again putting together a marvelous New Sun Conference. Even though I was only able to enjoy the wonderful lunch and following afternoon sessions, I picked up so many pointers through those presentations and being able to talk to those present. It will help me a great deal on my current projects concerned with the artistic expressions of the First Peoples.

Qwey Allan,
Congratulations on another successful New Sun Conference. These conferences are important dialogues on Aboriginal arts and culture to both Aboriginal and the academic/professional arts communities. What I particularly enjoy is the Aboriginal arts voice, experience and vision. You have had exceptional artists present from all the arts and the diversity of Aboriginal Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis). Thank you and Carleton University for hosting this important event.

This is an event not to be missed. This is my second year of attendance and I want to keep spreading the word. I also hope that this event gets it’s annual funding. Such a spirit of happiness and positive action is hard to find these days. The presenters are always first class and hard working, creative souls. The food is awesome, and I think the main event, but it all is so interesting that one is not tempted to leave after the meal. This year, I felt more at ease, and made some friends and exchanged e-mail addresses. I’m forever grateful that Dr. Allan J. Ryan, an old school buddy of mine, thought of me when sending out invitations.
–MD (Sent to Dean Osborne and President Mahmoud)

Since joining the ranks of graduate students at Carleton, I have had the great pleasure of participating in the New Sun Conference. Being raised in Nunavut, I am aware of how important public forums of sharing are to Inuit in the south. It is equally important to First Nations and Metis. Through this venue, Aboriginal diversity is celebrated, explored, and affirmed with the power of the arts. It is an important forum for non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal Canadians to meet and understand both history and history in the making. What better place for this than the nation’s capital? You have been highly successful in building bridges with various artistic communities, and you have included traditional and contemporary arts and artists: young and old, visual, aural, oral, culinary, and multi-media. Your excellent website gives the conference a year-round presence.

The conference audience includes academic and non-academic people. It is a community outreach for the university that is unequaled. You have very successfully managed to build on topics conference by conference. This multi-faceted event is entirely unique. With funding issues putting the New Sun Conference’s priority to the university in question, I want to say six years of networking and building is a wealthy foundation that is a true asset to Carleton that should be considered. The small amount of maintenance funds have a greater return each year, through the growing impact of the conference. I have also been personally successful (and motivated) to raise funds each year to donate tickets to students and community members in need. It is a valuable experience that I want others to share. As a graduate student from Nunavut, it is a little piece of “home” for me, but for the broader student community and participants it is also an exchange and an experience that books, reading, and curriculum cannot provide. This year’s conference was one of the best—I sincerely hope it will not be the last. Let me know if I can assist in any fundraising efforts.

This is an amazing event of great cultural spirit and always happy people. The learning curve is high and you get energized to create and increase the circle of hope and understanding in our multicultural society. I will be back next year. Thank you for supporting the arts in our world.
–M A D (sent to President Mahmoud)

I just want to let you know that—once again—you have done a fabulous thing! The New Sun Conference was wonderful. We enjoyed every speaker, I am keen to learn more about the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective (in time), and the entertainment was amazing. Thank you so much.

Congratulations once again on another successful New Sun conference! It was all fantastic as per usual—well organized, great speakers and performers, enlightening insights (and don’t forget the fabulous food)!

Thanks for the great program today. It was a very inspirational and informative day… very enjoyable.

Hi Allan:
just wanted to say thanks for inviting me to participate in the conference. It was another great day. A lot of good work. Take care.

Thank you for a wonderful day filled with pertinent information, excellent entertainment, and good food. The presenters were well chosen and interesting. I have marked my calendar for the 2008 New Sun Conference and look forward to attending.

Hey Allan,
that was a very good day; despite the fact that I almost didn’t make it because I had the cold that Elisapie spoke of. I thought all the speakers did a great job but Ernie Webb and Elisapie were totally exceptional! Not to mention the music, what a great voice! I’ll keep this short because I’m sure you’re getting swamped with congratulation emails but… Congratulation on a great “conference.” I hope to make it with family or friends next year.

Dear Dean Osborne and President Mahmoud,
I would like to take this opportunity to commend Dr. Allan Ryan for this year’s New Sun Conference Survivance: More Than Mere Survival. I was one of the participants who spoke on our new arts service organization, the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective (ACC/CCA). The conference was extremely well organized, and I was particularly impressed with the number and diversity of those in attendance, the high calibre of presenters, and the interest and engagement of the audience. Overall, it was extremely successful event, and it was an important opportunity for us to speak about the ACC/CCA, and the innovative work we are conducting for our Aboriginal curatorial and critical community. I commend Dr. Ryan for his diligence and tenacity in working hard each year to ensure that this integral and successful annual event takes place. I truly believe that the New Sun Conference has now reached a new level of critical importance to the educational and artistic communities writ large, and also, to the Aboriginal community as a significant annual educational and critical gathering.

For the future, I would recommend that the New Sun Conference continue to receive the essential fiscal support it requires, and also, the integral policy support of senior management at Carleton University that together have made this conference the important event it has become. Perhaps too, the conference could be expanded to two days, with a publication documenting the conference presentations, as a contribution to the development of critical writings on the Aboriginal artistic discourse.

In closing, I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to present on behalf of the ACC/CCA at Carleton University, and I trust that you will join with me in commending Dr. Allan Ryan for the important contributions he is making to the Aboriginal community and Carleton University.

–Barry Ace, Director and Co-Founder, Aboriginal Curatorial Collective

Hi Allan,
This was another successful conference. It was weather-proof, because storm or not the room was full of good energy and great people. I was very glad to be there. Thanks again. “Good job, Allan and Rae.”

Dear Allan,
I have just returned from the Arctic and apologize for my silence since my return from Ottawa—it was a hectic week between the two trips. I cannot thank you enough for inviting me and for being such a gracious host. Congratulations on this conference series. You have obviously worked very hard over the years to establish it and keep it fresh, and, based on my experience this year, it is not only an enjoyable gathering but one which I feel is very key to allowing both non-aboriginal and aboriginal audiences to realize the talent and wide scope of contemporary expression in the community.

I have sent a letter to both Mr. Osborne and Mr. Mahmoud regarding the conference. For your information, the text is below.

Thank you again, and I look forward to attending the next one!
–Patricia Feheley 

Dear Mr. Osborne,
I had the opportunity to attend, for the first time, the Sixth Annual New Sun Conference at Carlton. I had heard of it prior to this year but had never had the opportunity to attend. It was such a wonderful and positive gathering however that I would hope never to miss it again!

The range of presentations gave a comprehensive overview of the many different cultural areas in which aboriginal artists are involved and literally making history as they go. As the President of the Art Dealers Association of Canada, I work with the Visual Arts and specifically with aboriginal art, and am therefore aware of the scope and success in this sector. It was most enlightening to realize that the same energy and creativity is found in film, music, literature and museum studies. This type of cross-sectoral conference on such a professional level is not only enjoyable but very important both for shared knowledge and as a means of increasing awareness among the general public.

Dr. Allan Ryan has created a momentum with these conferences. It was evident that the success of this year is building on a strong base from prior years and that the audience is growing. Carlton University is to be congratulated on this initiative and will, I hope, support it fully in the future.

Yours sincerely,
Pat Feheley
Feheley Fine Arts, Toronto

A presentation of the New Sun Chair in Aboriginal Art and Culture
with the support of the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences and the New Sun Fund
administered by the Community Foundation of Ottawa, plus the generosity of private donors