This year’s theme is Reconfigured Realities. But reality is a relative term open to interpretation: Whose realities are we talking about? And why do they need to be reconfigured?
If you depend on mainstream media for an accurate reflection of contemporary Aboriginal realities your grasp of indigenous experience will be sadly incomplete. Grim and gritty imagery continues to flood the airwaves, with rancour and disillusionment played out in endless solemn sound bites. More often than not, the creative, uplifting, and hopeful stories of cultural vitality and revitalization are overlooked. This may explain in part why the New Sun Conference endures and is now entering its second decade. Inspiring stories of struggle and triumph that find expression in the arts and touch the heart have been the lifeblood of the New Sun Conference from the beginning. A demonstrable hunger for such stories remains strong. Your presence here today attests to that.
In recent years, Elder Jim Albert has reminded us in his opening remarks, with the scent of cedar and sweetgrass still in the air, that we will be in ceremony for the whole day. In this, he affirms a widespread indigenous belief that the quest for knowledge and wisdom is invariably a spiritual one. This year, we embark on such a quest together as members of one community—the New Sun community. Our journey begins in a university classroom re-consecrated as a safe and sacred space of indigenous learning, where certain realities have already begun to be reconfigured.
Here, photo artist KC Adams will share with us her playfully subversive explorations of indigenous media stereotypes, complicating and reconfiguring our notions of Aboriginal identities along the way. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Christine Welsh will demonstrate how film can play a pivotal role in reclaiming the dignity and identities of Aboriginal women while honouring their accomplishments. Conductor and composer John Kim Bell will retrace his prodigious musical career as well as the founding of the annually televised National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, which have brought national recognition to countless individuals honoured for exemplary community service and excellence in the arts. Heroes and role models alike, they presage Skawennati’s Mohawk time-travelling superhero, Hunter, whose adventures in cyberspace both illuminate history and affirm a vibrant indigenous future. And finally, Stephen Leafloor and his hyper-energetic BluePrintForLife hip hop crew will testify to the healing powers of music and dance and the enduring cultural impulse to internalize and make meaningful, newly introduced art forms. Our journey concludes Sunday afternoon with screenings of the films Finding Dawn and Arctic Hip Hop, followed by a question and answer session. It will be a ceremony like no other.
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