Intro - NicolePaul

Keeper of the Voice

BFA exhibition 2015

Language is the epicenter of any culture; it gives the ability to pass down knowledge from generation to generation.   A strong example would be the Indigenous cultures in Canada.  Without our native languages it becomes a challenge to connect with ourselves and create a positive Indigenous identity.  It is strongly believed amongst the elders and knowledge keepers that the Creator speaks to us in our mother tongue and without the ability to understand it, we lose our connection to the spirits.  The embodiment of aboriginal culture is our connection to the earth and the spirits; without that bond we lose who we are.

Generations of children were separated from their family and community, stripping them of their language and identity.   It was during the time of residential school placement that these children were forced to assimilate into Eurocentric ideals.  I was privileged with the opportunity to meet with and listen to the stories of many Aboriginal elders - all survivors of residential school placement.   One thing they all stressed was the impact that losing their language had on their cultural identity.  

It was through learning about these tragedies that I was inspired to create a body of work to bring awareness to the need to preserve and rehabilitate dying Aboriginal languages. I am challenging the institutional racism and ill effects colonialism has had on the people of my heritage.  I aim to bring a voice to those who are no longer able to speak by inspiring others to help preserve and bring our failing languages back to life.

Histories and legends are all passed down through tales and this is the beginning of my story.