Adam Martin and Katherine Boyer, organizers of the three-day symposium, say it will offer something for everyone. Photo by Brad Bellegarde.

Artists from across Canada will gather in Regina Feb. 24 to 27 to take part in what could be considered the first event of its kind in the Queen City. The Indigenous Artists Symposium is being hosted by Sakewewak Artists’ Collective and the Plain Red Art Gallery of the First Nations University of Canada.

Audrey Dreaver, event coordinator, said she hopes the symposium will help build bridges in the community. “I love collaboration, I really think that collaboration is the way we have to go to move forward in a more stronger and effective way,” she said. “It’s much better when we work with others because it brings awareness and it helps us to build bridges and build a better Canada.”

The theme for the symposium is activism and education through the arts. It will feature more than 30 artists with half from Saskatchewan and half from other provinces.

The event is important to discussing the role of education for artists, according to Katherine Boyer, gallery and collections coordinator for the Plain Red Art Gallery at FNUniv.

“A lot of the goals (of the Plain Red Art Gallery) are to educate and as artists we’re often in a position to educate,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to discussing the importance of visual art in the educational system and how learning through art is a very special opportunity.”  

The event is scheduled to run in collaboration with Sakewewak’s 16th annual Storytellers Festival. “Why not wrap it all together?” said Sakewewak executive director Adam Martin. “Business during the day and some entertainment at night while everyone is here.”

“We can really showcase the collective and what Regina is all about because we are bringing artists from across the country,” said Martin.

This symposium is the product of discussions among artists who attended the 2014 Canadian Artists Representatives Saskatchewan Aboriginal artists’ symposium in Saskatoon.

“The artists gave recommendations that included bringing artists together to network and celebrate Indigenous art. (They said) this type of gathering should continue but the next time it should be organized by the Indigenous art organizations and artists themselves,” said Dreaver, who worked for CARFAC on the 2014 symposium.

The three-day event will feature panels with artists and arts educators on topics ranging from education in the arts and contemporary issues in Indigenous art to arts organizations and funding opportunities for organizations and artists.

In addition to panel discussions, the symposium will feature workshops about digital storytelling, prepping work for exhibitions and porcupine quillwork.

Martin hopes the symposium will help educators understand some of the struggles Indigenous people have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

“By putting activism and education together with the arts, I’m hoping that educators from the University of Regina, from FNUniv and even some educators from elementary and high school are coming out to this event to learn the struggles and understand why they happen,” he said.