ᓇᒨᔭ ᓂᑎᑌᐧᐃᐧᓇ ᓂᑕᔮᐣ

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Walter Phillips Gallery Archway

Joi Arcand, "Northern Pawn, South Vietnam from Here on Future Earth" (2010). Photography. Collection of the artist

Joi T. Arcand, "Northern Pawn, South Vietnam from Here on Future Earth" (2010). Photography. Collection of the artist

 Joi T. Arcand

July 10, 2017 - August 2018

Walter Phillips Gallery Archway

 ᓇᒨᔭ ᓂᑎᑌᐧᐃᐧᓇ ᓂᑕᔮᐣ (namōya nititwēwina nitayān), by Joi T. Arcand, is the second in a series of public art commissions for Walter Phillips Gallery. Arcand is a Cree, photo-based artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in central Saskatchewan, Treaty 6 Territory, who currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario. Arcand explores the revitalization of the Cree language, and the many conversations that arise from her attempt to learn the language. This is expressed through the translation of the phrase, “I don’t have my words” into nehiyawēwin, or Plains Cree (Y dialect).

The interruption of intergenerational language-learning, as a result of the residential school system and other colonial attempts to remove Indigenous culture, has created serious barriers for access to language for subsequent generations. Emphasizing the discontinuation of the language within Arcand’s own family by rendering it hyper-visible in location and material, the work further questions how the public presence of language is connected to acknowledging Indigenous peoples. Visible from many parts of the Banff Centre campus, ᓇᒨᔭ ᓂᑎᑌᐧᐃᐧᓇ ᓂᑕᔮᐣ (namōya nititwēwina nitayān) takes the form of an illuminated sign that has been installed on the archway at the gallery’s entrance. Traced in LED lights, the translation of the text, “I don’t have my words” in Plains Cree (Y dialect) syllabics addresses questions of accessibility and the presence of Indigenous languages of Canada. 

Two companion works by Arcand are also currently on display at institutions across Canada. ᐁᑳᐏᔭ ᓀᐯᐃᐧᓯ (ēkāwiya nēpēwisi) (2017) is on view as part of the second gesture of Wood Land School: Kahatènhston tsi na’tetiátere ne Iotohrkó:wa tánon Iotohrha / Drawing a Line from January to December at SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art, Montreal until 29 July, 2017; and ᑭᔮᒼ (kiyām) (2017) is included in It’s Complicated at Central Art Garage, Ottawa until 31 July, 2017. The artist and Walter Phillips Gallery would like to acknowledge Dolores Sand and Darryl Chamakese for their generosity in sharing their knowledge of the Cree language and for their translations for these works. 

Artist Biography

Joi T. Arcand is a photo-based artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in central Saskatchewan (Treaty 6 Territory) who is currently based in Ottawa, Ontario. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 2005, and has exhibited across Canada, the United States and Europe. In 2006 she co-founded The Red Shift Gallery, a contemporary Indigenous art gallery in Saskatoon. In 2012, she created kimiwan ‘zine, a magazine for Indigenous artists and writers.