Reclaiming Our Roots combines multi-media with traditional materials to present unique stories of Indigeneity

On April 5, Gallery Gachet, located in the Downtown Eastside, turned into a stage for the organization Indigenous Women Artists (IWA) for the exhibition Reclaiming Our Roots.

Each artist expressed their own ways of “reclaiming their roots” through their individuality. Some demonstrated this through paintings, some through photographs, some through crafts and woven fabrics and some through a multi-media combination.

By using natural materials such as cedar, sweetgrass and traditional woven fabric, Chantel Joseph-Bordeau made her pieces Healing, Shifting, Becoming and Helping, Healing, Uplifting unique.

The first work was about self-reflection, with the cedar playing a big role in representing the traditional way of ‘cleansing’ oneself. The second work illustrated the “second stage” of a healing process. She used red, which is a symbolic representation of power.

Joseph-Bordeau explained how the piece showed what she referred to as the “spirit of healing.” She illustrated the image of releasing energy from darkness into the air effectively by using vibrant reds and black.

Jacqueline West’s work, Respected Women #1, 2, and 3 expressed the dignity and the strength of women. She made three different kinds of headbands with woven cedar and decorated each one of them differently with feather, beads, shells, stones and animal bones.

These pieces showed the individuality of women’s strength, Indigenous beauty and even a high sense of fashion. However, more than that, through an exquisite fusion of traditions and modernity West also showed her own way of connection to her roots.

As each one of artworks represented artists’ roots differently, the exhibit showed that all of us have different stories to share — we just need to know the individuality that comes from our stories and surroundings.