Indigenous Youth Climate Art Contest Winners
Youth Artists and their Work
The Fraser Basin Council is pleased to introduce you to winners of the Indigenous Youth Climate Art Contest and the art pieces they have created, which were displayed at the Adaptation Canada 2020 conference and showcased in Canada’s national assessment report on climate change titled Canada in a Changing Climate.
Meet the artists and their work!
Please note that ALL artwork displayed on this page is copyrighted by the artists and may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of the artists.
Leah Anthony, Nak’azdli Band and her artwork zine UNEVEN GROUND: laying down complex root systems
Read UNEVEN GROUND in image gallery below
Here I wish to share with you my personal artistic take on the state of the environmental crisis in so-called British Columbia but of course, there is much more to be contributed to this narrative. The medium I have chosen to explore the topics of the climate emergency and the role of Indigenous knowledge and resurgence in creating a better future, is a zine. I use this multimedia format in order to connect with the topics in different ways, such as through collage, poetry and prose. This piece explores, in an abstract yet to the point way, why we have gotten to this place of environmental destruction due to colonization and the implementation of a capitalistic system. It also highlights the importance of the Indigenous resurgence movement and the empowerment of Indigenous communities in the present and future climate crisis. Indigenous communities across Canada are suffering because of senseless barriers to their self determination, self governance, ability to access their traditional lands and cultural practices. Change needs to happen in a collaborative way between community members and the current government, in conjunction with Indigenous peoples in each specific part of Canada whose relationships have continued with the land since time immemorial.
My name is Leah Anthony, daughter of Theressa Rachao and David Anthony. Granddaughter of Lyn Rachao, Maunel Rachao, Denise Anthony and Mike Anthony. I come from Dakelh or Carrier descent as well as Portuguese, French-Canadian and Anglo-Canadian descent. I currently study on the unceded territory of the Lekwungen speaking peoples at the colonial institution of the University of Victoria to pursue a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Environmental Studies.
Adrian Rain Flinn-Neeposh, James Bay Cree, Mistissini and his artwork "ᐅᑲᓇᐧᐁᔨᒧᐧᐁᐤ/ukanaweyimuweu"
View image gallery of ᐅᑲᓇᐧᐁᔨᒧᐧᐁᐤ/ukanaweyimuweu
The Eastern Cree word Ukanaweyimuweu means Protector, and in our dictionary it is filed under "Roles and Professions." My piece is a collection of parts that make the uniform of an Indigenous Environment Protector.
"Our Water" is a ribbon dress with an orca jumping over the Salish sun and three blue ribbons. Each ribbon represents one of the three Southern Resident Killer Whales who have been missing since the summer of 2019.
"Stop TMX" a beaded medallion that decries the pipeline that cuts through unceded territory, and empties into oil tankers that pollute the water where those orcas lived.
"We Can't Drink Crude" protest sign. And an elk and cedar drum that depicts the fight between Thunderbird and Orca. In the story, the giant Orca was waiting at the mouth of the river, eating every salmon that came to the river to spawn. The People were starving so they called Thunderbird for help. Thunderbird came and snatched Orca in its talons, saving the salmon run. To me this story is about greed. The Thunderbird is a Protector, like the Mountain Protectors at Kwekwecnewtxw — the Coast Salish Watch House.
This dress, medallion, sign, and drum is a replication of what we wear to rallies and actions as Indigenous protectors of the land.
About Adrian Rain
Adrian Rain is a Two-Spirit artist from the Cree nation of Mistissini, Quebec. Born into T'exelc and raised on Sto:lo territory, Adrian cherishes our BC ecosystem and advocates for the environment from Horsefly River to the Burrard Inlet. He has followed in his grandmother's footsteps in beading, and been taught by Anishnaabe and Musqueam elders in ribbon dress sewing and hand drum making. His project highlights the importance of protecting Our Water from pollution and greed.
Sarah Jim, Tseycum First Nation, W̱SÁNEĆ and her artwork "Saltwater Ways"
My philosophy and W̱SÁNEĆ teachings iterate that everything is connected. This painting portrays that idea: that all aspects of nature are reliant on one another. Orcas are a notable animal on the west coast of Canada and the resident killer whales off the shores of Vancouver Island are in decline. This is due to noise pollution, lack of food (salmon decline from overfishing and pollution), and many other factors that are direct impacts of climate change.
This design is representative of the dependence of each natural entity of this coastal system. A salmon is within an orca surrounded by native plants because the orcas are not only dependent on the salmon but the orca and salmon are both dependent on healthy land. When eagles, bears, and other animals eat the salmon, nourishment is added to the soil through digestion and these nutrients transport back to the waterways through runoff. This showcases the connectivity the land has with the water. On the flip side, land pollutants can leak into streams, rivers, and other bodies of water and this causes negative impacts to the health of the salmon, causing negative impacts to the orca. If one thing is out of whack then the whole ecosystem becomes unbalanced and therefore will suffer.
The Coast Salish art form not only pays homage to my ancestors but it also establishes a sense of place and articulates where these specific animals and plants are from because the art is an expression of the landscape. Traditional pigments are made from plants and shells and the Coast Salish elements are interpretations of bones, ligaments, bark, and other natural patterns. I'm not one to visually portray climate change in a horrific way. I would rather show what is possible by creating an image that is optimistic, balanced, and beautiful.
Sarah Jim is an emerging artist from W̱SÁNEĆ. Her ancestry is mixed but her roots are in Tseycum First Nation. She has developed her skills and interests further by training at the University of Victoria and receiving a Bachelors Degree of Fine Arts. Due to her close relationship to the land, she has been making art that consists of local flora and fauna, Coast Salish elements, and dreamy landscapes.
Sarah’s intense interest and love for W̱SÁNEĆ territory has taken her down a path that allows her to interact with the natural environment by learning about the native plants of the area and working on the land through environmental restoration. These ways of learning have resulted in art that is a reflection of W̱SÁNEĆ ways of being. Her art practice consists of natural elements that are significant to the W̱SÁNEĆ territory. Sarah tries to stay true to the traditional Coast Salish artform, but adds a contemporary and individual twist to her artwork. Most recently, Sarah has been depicting botanically correct native plants and adorning them with Coast Salish elements. This establishes a sense of a place and gives them cultural significance.
Past projects include painting the façade of a longhouse for the One Wave Gathering in Victoria, painting multiple drums that depict native plants for clients, being chosen for the Commute exhibition in Victoria where her art is displayed on bus stops for a year, winning the Museum of Anthropology at UBC’s shirt design contest, collaborating with Project Reclaim to design an Indigenous Food Justice poster, and designing multiple logos for different businesses and organizations. Sarah’s climate action experience occurs every week in SṈIDȻEȽ. SṈIDȻEȽ’s ecosystem, which is Tod Inlet in English, has been destroyed by a cement plant that was there 100 years ago. SṈIDȻEȽ is culturally significant because it was the first W̱SÁNEĆ village site. SȽEMEW̱, the first W̱SÁNEĆ man, came down with the rain and built the first village and practiced the teachings of the W̱SÁNEĆ people. Sarah heals the land by removing invasive species and replaces them with native plants. This has given Sarah a sense of connection to the land, culture, and traditional art. Much of her art reflects the philosophy that everything is connected and the natural world is significantly important to all living things.
Coralee Miller, Syilx/Okanagan Nation and her artwork "Red Woman"
I have a painting that I feel speaks to the issues of climate change and our cultural beliefs in the importance of reciprocity and sustainability. My painting is called Red Woman. In my painting, a giant woman crouches over the land where she overlooks the life that is moving around her; there are trees, rocks, soil and animals that move about the terrain. There are also people colored to represent the four directions. In red woman, she is red like the earth, and her hair brushes the ground, becoming trees. Her body is see-through where her ribs can been seen representing the vitality and importance of the life we take from the land to sustain our own. As First Nations People, we understand the earth is a alive, and everything, whether it be rocks, roots, animals or bugs, all things have a purpose and play an integral role in continuing the functionality of our environment. As people, we must remember that nature doesn't need us, we need nature.
My name is Coralee Miller and I am a member of the Westbank First Nation.
I am of mixed heritage but have grown up as an Okanagan/Syilx with my family on IR#9 in Westbank.
I have always loved to draw, paint and sculpt and am always working to better myself as an artist. I am currently working towards my Bachelors of Fine Arts at UBCO and hope to graduate in 2020 so that I may focus my skills and become an asset to my community. I work as a museum assistant at the sncewips heritage museum and have been there for 6 years. I love to incorporate humour into my art as well as my work, I have observed that we often teach with humour and humility and I think that a good sense of humour is a powerful medicine.
I love and am inspired by my family, they are a strong and hilarious bunch or artists, musicians and storytellers and I want to make them proud.
Veronica Rose Waechter, Gitxsan Nation and her artwork mask "Legends of the Blue Sky"
View Legends of the Blue Sky image gallery
Legends of the Blue Sky is a song by recording artists Kimmortal (Filipinx) and The Northwest
Veronica Rose Waechter (Gitxsan) grew up in Terrace, BC, on Ts’msyen territory. From 2014- 2016, she attended the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art where she learned the fundamentals of traditional wood carving from prestigious carvers Ken McNeil and Stan Bevan.
In 2018, she graduated from Emily Carr University of Art + Design with a BFA, as the first-ever Freda Diesing transfer graduate, and soon after assisted working on totem pole carving in different locations around Vancouver. Waechter received the YVR Art Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award for 2018 and 2019, recently working one-on-one as an apprentice to master carver Dempsey Bob back in Ts’msyen territory.