By Rick Garrick
Rocky Bay artist Shaun Hedican shared his screen printing techniques with a group of Lakehead University students on March 10 during Aboriginal Cultural Week.
“We’re screen printing my Powerful Moose design,” Hedican says. “To me it symbolizes balance and connection to nature that everything has.”
The Powerful Moose design includes moose, trees, mountain and divided-circle motif elements.
“The divided-circle motif represents balance in our culture,” Hedican says.
Workshop participants learned how to transfer the Powerful Moose design first onto paper and then onto a tote bag, which they could take home for their own use.
“I always enjoy workshops at Lakehead,” Hedican says. “It’s a good balance of community members and students and staff as well.”
Aroland’s Damian Bouchard helped the participants to dry their screen-printed tote bags with a blow dryer during the workshop.
“I come out to these events — it allows me to interact with the community,” Bouchard says. “Art is about uplifting people’s spirits, connecting people. It’s building community and it’s fun. And you get to create something you can show, present and use in everyday life.”
Bouchard says the tote bag is environmentally friendly.
“As Indigenous people, we have to start really coming together around the environment,” Bouchard says. “It’s been a good day to be Indigenous.”
Moose Factory’s Natasha Wesley says this was her first Shaun Hedican workshop.
“I’ve heard so many great things about it, and how much fun they are,” Wesley says. “And they are really fun. A lot of my friends are here, so I just wanted to see what was going on. And you leave with something — I can use it to carry my books.”
Lakehead University Aboriginal Awareness Centre coordinator Helen Pelletier says Hedican is one of the students’ favourite workshop presenters.
“He’s always very good to work with and students really take to working with him,” says the Fort William citizen. “He’s very good with sharing his designs.”
Pelletier believes in connecting art with people and the land.
“It’s important to show Indigenous knowledge through art as well,” Pelletier says. “And I find it is really beneficial because we can connect a lot of people through art. It’s like a common connection.”
Hedican says the workshops allow him to reconnect with the community.
“One of the reasons why I returned to northern Ontario was to reconnect with the community and the people that live in our homeland,” Hedican says. “And the workshops have been a great way to do that. I’ve been sharing the workshops everywhere from Pays Plat to Catholic elementary schools. It’s given me an opportunity to meet … community members from all walks of life.”
Other Aboriginal Awareness Week activities included an Ojibway Language Talk on March 7; a Decolonizing Workshop “The Blanket Exercise”, The Northern Lights Painting Series and Honouring Women “International Women’s Day” on March 8; and “Story Telling Our Way Forward” with Ryan McMahon on March 11.