Sept. 9, 2016
For Immediate Release
BRANTFORD – Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth will come together in a cultural exchange for a Wilfrid Laurier University-led initiative referred to as the TAG project (Transformation Action Graffiti). When the project is complete, two large-scale murals by Chile’s famed Alapinta artists – one on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, and one in the City of Brantford – will stand as a testament to the healing, friendship and cultural pride that the project hopes to engender.
Laurier faculty members Kim Anderson, Vanessa Oliver and Kari Brozowski, along with the university’s Aboriginal Student Support Co-ordinator Bonnie Whitlow, are undertaking the project in partnership with Six Nations, the muralists from Chile, and the Escuela Mapuche in Chile. Two youth coordinators have been hired to assist, and a youth advisory council has been formed. Organizers are actively recruiting individuals aged 14 to 24 to take part in a weekend-long workshop series that runs Sept. 16 to Sept. 18.
“The weekend workshop will bring together young people from Six Nations, Brantford, the County of Brant and beyond,” said Oliver. “Brantford-based participants will be bused to Six Nations daily where they will experience Indigenous traditions, social events, and sessions exploring topics like storytelling, art, healing, and decolonization.”
During the final afternoon, participants will reflect on what they learned throughout the workshops and collaborate with the artists to inform the images that will become part of the final murals. The murals themselves will be painted on the Six Nations Youth and Elder’s Centre and on the east-facing wall of Brantford’s Market Square on Laurier’s campus. Painting will take place on Six Nations from Sept. 19 – 25, and in Brantford from Sept. 26 to Oct. 5, and is open to all members of the community.
“Our hope is that this will support Indigenous youth who are leaders in their communities,” said Oliver. “We want to foster a positive exchange of culture and help build strong, healthy relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth.”
The initiative is funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grants, and is supported by UNESCO. In addition to the murals, organizers will be gathering research, determining what participants have gleaned from the process, and assessing how it has impacted factors like perspectives, leadership and cultural pride.
“We want to find out what they plan to do moving forward,” said Oliver. “Will this project contribute to reconciliation and spark a desire to continue to build upon what they’ve experienced?”
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