KANAWÊYIMÊW (she takes care of them)

Michelle Sound

May 10 to August 6, 2022

Cree and Métis artist Michelle Sound’s work reflects on her family history. A member of the Wapsewsipi/Swan River First Nation in Northern Alberta, Sound was born and raised on Canada’s west coast, on the unceded and ancestral home territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh peoples. 

Two bodies of work will be shown across both feature exhibition spaces in the Art Gallery of St. Albert. Chapan Snares Rabbits will grace the stairs – 14 rabbit fur drums, which have been hand dyed to soft shades of pink, blue and green. In Cree, chapan is a term for both your great grandparents and your descendants. Sound’s chapan was a midwife and healer, who supported her family with a trapline, a practice also taken up by Sound’s kokum (grandmother) for a time. Snaring rabbits, they provided food for their families, and sold the pelts to supplement household income.  

In the vault, projected onto an old-style pull-down screen, is the photographic series – nimama hates fish but worked in the canneryIn each image, Sound holds up an old family photograph against the coastal landscape of her current home. Steeped in her family’s history of enfranchisement, displacement and the loss of language, Sound’s work honours the sacrifices of past generations, and the role that stories had in maintaining familial connections despite the distance. 

kanawêyimêw (She takes care of them) is Sound’s homage to the strength, labour and sacrifice of her forebears and a tender tribute to maternal love. 

Image credit: Michelle Sound, Trapline, Dyed Rabbit fur, wood frame, sinew, dimensions variable, 2020.