February 8 to July 11
Niamh Dooley is an Anishininew (Oji-Cree) and Irish contemporary artist based in Winnipeg. She is a band member of St. Theresa Point First Nation (Mitheynigaaming/ Mariah Portage) in Treaty 5 territory of Manitoba (part of the Island Lake communities) but grew up in Treaty 3 territory in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.
Nintawin, which means “my home” in Oji-Cree, focuses on identity, family connection, inter-generational knowledge sharing, and reclaiming ancestral knowledge. Autobiographical works, painted from old family photographs, depict Dooley’s extended family and the objects of their culture. They focus on the passing down of knowledge, skills and practice through family and community.
Colonization, which manifested as forced assimilation, loss of land rights, and the residential school system, attempted to strip Indigenous people in Canada of their identities. Families were displaced and cultural practices suppressed. Through a process of discovery and a display of resilience, Dooley incorporates traditional materials such as beadwork, moose hair and sinew onto canvas primed with rabbit skin glue. Customary Indigenous art-making practices and the use of Oji-Cree language replace the colonial art history taught in the classroom, allowing Dooley the freedom to experiment with ways to express her identity.
It is important to note that Dooley’s work is unique and reflects her cultural heritage and lived experiences. There are many aspects of this experience that contrast with the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples in Treaty 6, around St. Albert and the extended Metro Edmonton area. Cultural contrasts are represented through artifacts sourced from Treaty 6. These objects provide a local connection to the work and are on loan from local families and the Musée Heritage Museum.
This exhibition was created in consultation and collaboration with local Indigenous community leaders and Elders. We are most grateful for their knowledge, expertise and wisdom.
Image credit: Niamh Dooley, ehema nintehi mikowinduhwihkow nitankoopabanak ekes meena kitakiiminan, From Heart to Ancestors and the Land, Oil on canvas with branches, beads, and animal hide, 2018.