The signature image for the 10th Anniversary New Sun Conference is based on a design for a painted drum that Mike Dangeli, one of this year’s presenters, was commissioned to make for Buffy Saint-Marie in honour of her nomination for the 2009 Juno Awards.
Mike says, “The drum was called Shining Through. It embodies the Nisga’a concept of nłoomsk ts’üü siigyemk, which refers to the sacred strength of the sunbeam. It is one of our most important Nisga’a beliefs that we need to walk in the light that the creator provides. It nurtures our soul and strengthens our ability to manage our lives and treat our fellow human beings and the world around us in a positive way. Walking the path outside the light, a path of darkness and negativity, is sometimes easier, but in the end it does more damage to us. Some of the most powerful songs we sing are those that remind us that we need to go back to that sacred space, to ‘walk in the light,’ and maintain a positive and healing relationship to ourselves, our world, our universe.”
In light of these teachings, Shining Through seems an especially fitting image to mark this special anniversary in that it embodies many of the goals of the New Sun Conference itself: to provide a sacred space for celebration and reflection, to nurture souls (and hearts), to inspire positive actions, and foster healing relationships through the communal sharing of stories and songs. Judging from the copious feedback received over the past decade it would appear that these goals have been met many times over in ways both playful and profound. Thematically, Shining Through is a fertile verbal and visual metaphor that stirs the imagination. We can envision numerous streams of light, shafts of creative cultural brilliance, piercing the dark clouds of apathy and ignorance to affirm a vital and persistent indigenous presence. And in the process, bringing enlightenment, enrichment, and renewal. In this renewal, in the dawning of each new day—especially on this new day—what is clearly shining through are the radiant beams of a New Sun.
Today, the life-giving energy of this light is made manifest in the layered symbology of Nadia Myre’s film and beaded photo explorations; in the arctic imaginings of Mosha Folger’s verse and tricky hip hop songscapes; in the majestic sweep and curve of Douglas Cardinal’s distinctive built environments; in the triumph of the healing spirit in Armand Garnet Ruffo’s filmic odyssey, A Windigo Tale; and in the cultural exuberance that animates the life and artistry of Mike Dangeli and Mique’l Askren and the Git Hayetsk Dancers. It promises to be a memorable day. 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 and the New Sun Fund
administered by the Community Foundation of Ottawa, plus the generosity of private donors