My diaconal ministry classmates and I were invited to join the DUCC conference outings on April 18th. Diaconal ministers and students from across the country spiraled out into Winnipeg, visiting sites about Truth and Reconciliation, social enterprise, Indigenous art, community ministries, corrections and justice, ally-ship, and courageous risking through art making.
At the Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibit Insurgence/Resurgence I was drawn to Ejinda-pushit, the stretched caribou hide that formed a huge drum amplified by a speaker. This piece was created by Tsēma Igharas, interdisciplinary artist and member of the Tāłtān First Nation.
I loved the traditional work with hide placed solidly and rightfully in the present day through the medium of the guitar amp. As people experimented with playing the drum, sound filled the exhibition rooms. This heartbeat was always in the background. I heard an art gallery leader telling a group of indigenous youth that the artist wanted people to play the drum as loud as possible – for the sound to fill the gallery and spill into the streets. What symbols does this artist want us all to drum into the world? The beauty and necessity of indigenous art, the heartbeat of Mother Earth, the joy of song and dance?
For me personally, the drum represented healing. Playing the drum brought me back to the YWCA activity room in my hometown where I attended Cree round dance drumming. I was grieving the death of my mom and on Monday nights for many months I went and sang alongside Cree folks in my community who welcomed me just as I was without question.
When it comes to our shared history and right relations, many of us are grieving for so many different reasons here on Turtle Island. We’re carrying the feelings that come with grief: anger, shock, denial, sadness, guilt, pain and depression. While this is necessary, can we also listen to the healing heartbeat of artists, of the land, of our own hearts? Let’s amplify this shared beat and dance together.
Alison Brooks-Starks is a student at CCS.
More reflections on Courageous Risking at the DUCC conference.