The signature image for the 7th Annual New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts dramatically symbolizes this year’s theme, Reaching Back + Reaching Out. The photograph of dancer Santee Smith is a rich visual metaphor for a communal act of reaching back into the past to affirm the strength of traditions, to honour the knowledge of elders, to rescue stories from the shadows, and to revitalize art forms for a new generation. The photographic image is no less a metaphor for reaching out beyond the Aboriginal community to a myriad of other communities in a spirit of generosity and celebration.

At this year’s conference Six Nations dancer/choreographer Santee Smith will perform an excerpt from her work Kaha:wi and will discuss the challenges and rewards of a life in dance. In tandem with her presentation, well-known actor/choreographer Michael Greyeyes will screen the film Triptych, an exploration of residential school fallout which he wrote, choreographed, and performed in. Film is also the favoured medium of Kahnawake native Tracey Deer whose documentary treatments of urban Aboriginal youth have earned her a devoted following. Her recent award-winning film Mohawk Girls resonates with the experiences of youth far beyond the Aboriginal community. No less compelling are the smart and sassy lyric poems of performance artist Taqralik Partridge whose wry observations of urban Inuit life surge with a restless rhythm and energy. The rhythms and energy of contemporary Aboriginal life are given added context and historical depth by heritage language conservationist Clealls (John Medicine Horse Kelly), and ethnomusicologist and pianist Elaine Keillor, who will trace the development of the encyclopaedic websites www.native-drums.ca and http://native-dance.ca. Joining them in their presentation is singer Beverly Souliere, a contributor to the latter website.

It promises to be a most rewarding day.

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 and the New Sun Fund
administered by the Community Foundation of Ottawa, plus the generosity of private donors