‘Expansive’ range of Indigenous art, music highlighted during showcase

By Calvi Leon

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Indigenous solidarity is not just for one day.

That’s the message behind an Indigenous artists showcase being held in Old East Village last week.

“Everybody is always saying, what are you doing for (National Indigenous People’s Day on June 21)? It’s a holiday,” said Mikaila Stevens, a Mi’kmaq beadwork artist and designer with Rezonance Printing, an Indigenous-led print shop and education space in London.

“But what are you doing the day before and the day after?” she asked. “Indigenous solidarity doesn’t just start on the day that had been given to it. It’s year-round.”

Rezonance highlights the work of more than 10 Indigenous artists from London and surrounding First Nations at its shop at 629 Dundas St.

The Solidarity Showcase, launched June 20, is a chance for the public to explore an “expansive” range of artwork, much of which strays from what is traditionally seen, said Stevens, who uses she and they pronouns.

“As an Indigenous artist, everything you make is Indigenous art,” she recalls learning during their internship with Rezonance in 2019. “It doesn’t have to be feathers and eagles and all that.

It can be UFOs, plants, whatever you want.”

Visitors can browse through a colourful display of artwork _ from vibrant beaded jewelry to custom clothing and a selection of CDs and tapes from local musicians.

Beyond the gallery space in the back room, visitors can get a glimpse of how Rezonance works. The creative space has screen-printing supplies and equipment spread across the shop floor and murals painted on the back wall.

The idea to host a showcase began to take form a year ago, a month after the remains of as many as 215 children were found on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. As calls to mute or scale back Canada Day celebrations grew, scores of people entered the Rezonance shop looking to buy orange shirts that honour First Nations, Inuit and Metis children forced to attend church- and government-run residential schools that operated in Canada from the 19th century to 1996.

“We had many people coming while (the shop was) printing orange shirts for universities and Atlohsa (Family Healing Services), asking about Orange Shirt Day and having us re-explain it and educate people,” Stevens said.

What was intended to be a space to share, connect and learn became “emotionally draining” for Rezonance staff, Stevens explained.

That’s why the shop wanted to set a positive tone this year, making it “less about the trauma and education, and more about a showcase to uplift the diversity in the Indigenous culture even just in and around London.”

Stevens, owner of Flourish and Grow (?flourish.n.grow on Instagram), is joined in the showcase by Alex Hann of Ugly Goods and Services (?uglygoodsandservices); Robin Henry of Antler Press (?the.real.antler.press); Alexis Nanibush (?a.nanibush.art); Alyssa Green of Auntie A’s Creations (?auntieacreations_); Janet Antone of Ms. Antone’s Beadwork (?ms.antonesbeadwork); Rebecca Doxtator (?otsitsidesigns), and Mem Ireland of Memengwaans Designs (?memengwaans).

Bands and musicians featured during the showcase are Status/Non-Status (?statusnonstatus); Ombiigizi (?ombiigizi); Sub Drop (?subdropmusic); S.D. Henhawke (?pastures_pure_as_wonder); Thin Air (?thin.air.music), and Studio Habalayon (?studio_habalayon).

Calvi Leon  is a  Local Journalism Initiative  reporter working out of the LONDON FREE PRESS The LJI  program is funded by the Government of Canada

What: Indigenous Solidarity Showcase at Rezonance Printing

Where: 629 Dundas St., London

When: Weekdays, noon-5 p.m., Saturday, noon-4 p.m.

More information: ?rezonanceprinting on Instagram

 

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