By Jamie-Lee McKenzie
ROUYN-NORANDA –First Nations in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue area came together on June 7 for Dialogue Deux – an event that marks the shared desire for both the First Nations and the rest of the area to work together for culture, art and tourism.
In the past year, the seven First Nation communities and the two Friendship Centers of the region have signed the Charter of Commitment to CULTURAT, which shows their desire to make their culture known to the residents and visitors of Abitibi- Témiscamingue.
Chief Harry St. Denis from Wolf Lake First Nation believes this is an important step forward. Chief St. Denis explained that Wolf Lake First Nation began working on tourism 10 to 15 years ago without any partners and it was difficult. “The more people that you have, the more different cultures that are involved, the better product that you’ll end up with in the end,” says Chief St. Denis. “The more interesting it is for visitors, I think is basically what’s interesting for us.”
Émilien Larochelle says the First Nations will be working with Tourisme Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
“We are one step closer to one of CULTURAT objectives: bringing peoples together, getting to know each other better,” says Larochelle the Chairman of Tourisme Abitibi-Témiscamingue,.
The day also marked the opening of the art exhibition, Dialogue Deux which includes art pieces that have been created together by First Nations and non-First Nations artists. Each art piece was uniquely created through a collaboration of one First Nation artist and one non-First Nation artist.
Darrell McBride, a musician from Temiskaming First Nation believes that this is a great program.
“I think the Dialogue program is amazing so far, I think this is a great step towards a bright future in Quebec relations,” explains McBride.
McBride, a musician whose music has statements of Aboriginal rights and sociopolitical messages, worked with Christian Leduc a photographer, from Rouyn-Noranda to create a video art piece titled “1186” (One Thousand One Hundred and Eighty Six) which represents the missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. A topic that is important for many First Nations people.
“I’m surprised that no one’s done a piece like that a lot sooner, it’s such an important issue that has to be explored by the younger people,” says McBride. “So we felt the need to explore that and we did it as a band at first and then the opportunity came up to work with Christian and it came out to be a really cool project.”
The Dialogue Deux art exhibition will run thru to September 20.