This year marks the 11th annual New Sun Conference, and like for the last 11 years, I was there. The New Sun Conference has been a part of my year for a while now and always is inspiring to me. Although I’m no longer a university student, I do still appreciate learning about other Aboriginal artists and broadening my horizons.
Last year’s conference was shortly after some health problems, it was good to get back to something familiar and invigorating. It was the 10th annual conference and during the lunch time performance a piece of Eagle down landed close by. We were told that this down was sacred and it was “lucky” for it to land on us. I put this little piece of down in a container which I keep with the drops I use to treat my eye disease. I also have a small shell that I got as a gift at Women’s World last summer. They remind me of good memories and to stay positive. It’s hard to believe a year has gone by but I’m definitely ready to start this new year!
This year’s conference was amazing, every year it seems to out do itself, it always makes me think and inspires me. That’s not to say that the topics are always easy, in fact, this year many of the topics were challenging. This year touched on so many things: about the role of women, murdered and missing Aboriginal women, reality, technology, health issues, about our communities, abuse, violence, equality, identity, stereotypes but, also, about hope and evolution. KC Adams started the morning off with a talk about cyborg hybrids and identity. I really appreciated how she chooses to appreciate her cultures. I have a similar cultural background and being bi-racial is definitely about balance and recognizing and appreciating where you come from and how that shapes who you are. I love her concept of the cyborg hybrid and creating identity that is free of racism and stereotypes.
Watching the clip from “Finding Dawn”, produced by Christine Welsh, was especially hard. This week I went to a talk with the aunt of another missing Aboriginal girl. Hearing her first hand account of what her family had gone through was heartbreaking. As was watching Ramona Wilson’s family honor her after she was murdered on the Highway of Tears. Where did these women go? Then John Kim Bell reminded us about our successes. I still remember going to my first Aboriginal Achievement Awards in Ottawa as a young girl – how excited I was to learn about all those receiving awards, seeing the amazing show and seeing what other Aboriginal people were doing. It was one of the first times I was exposed to new Aboriginal people to look up to. It was very inspiring to my young self.
At lunch we were all entertained by the crew from BluePrintForLife - the highlight, having two elders work the DJ booth.
The afternoon had great speakers Skawennati and BluePrintForLife – about community outreach that is culturally appropriate, reaching the youth in our communities – bringing communities together, in physical and virtual reality, through the arts.
So where is the hope? The hope is in programs like BluePrintForLife and in each of the presenters, who all have something to offer through their art, each reconfiguring their reality, and ours.