The theme of the 8th Annual New Sun Conference, Inspiring Resilience, is informed by the comments and feedback of previous conference participants, who frequently describe both presenters and presentations as “inspiring.” It is an apt description. The creative cultural spirit that infuses the work of contemporary Aboriginal artists is inspiring in several ways: on the most basic level, it affirms the power of the arts to touch us deeply, articulating the human experience in the most profound and joyful ways. Inspiring too are the diverse personal narratives of challenge and discovery, of struggle and achievement that command our admiration and respect. There is also inspiration in the celebration of Aboriginal voices—from seasoned elders to activist youth, in formats ranging from traditional teachings to novels and popular song. There is no shortage of role models in the Aboriginal community; moreover, the influence of such role models extends far beyond its borders. In the end, it is the resilience of Aboriginal culture itself that is inspiring, though not entirely surprising. In a well-known and widespread trickster tale, Coyote (or Nanabush) refuses to be killed or contained, repeatedly springing back to life with increased determination and creative drive. It is this creative cultural rejuvenation that we are here today to once again affirm and share.
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