Creative Collaboration and Walking with Our Sisters

You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created. – Albert Einstein

Creative collaboration is a beautiful thing; it recognizes the true nature of reality that we are all interconnected and interdependent. When individuals offer something unique and creative to a project, there can be together a blossoming- a whole that emerges that is ‘other than the sum of the parts’. (Aristotle) When creative collaboration has social justice motivation it can be a powerful agent for change and societal transformation. The ‘Walking With Our Sisters’ art project stands as a wonderful example.

This commemorative art installation is dedicated to our 1200 missing and murdered aboriginal women. Loving, caring people everywhere- both aboriginal and non-aboriginal – have beaded, painted and quilted some 1400 moccasin tops called vamps, each created in honor of the women. In the exhibit, the vamps are displayed on the walls and floor, and through the display, the audience walks into a silent ceremony to show support for these women and their families and communities who have experienced so much pain and grief. This exhibit will be on display in Comox at the K’omoks Band Hall this August.

As elsewhere in Canada, there is keen interest in the project on Denman Island with some people donating funds, and others contributing creatively to a whole that is still emerging. Many of us who are participating in some way are already feeling a healing effect from this project that is difficult to describe. Building on the work of thousands of others across the country are some key and vibrant contributors on Denman Island. They include Maxine Matilpi who leads as a First Nations educator and artist. Elizabeth Chapman, Metis, has woven the two pair of beautiful individual vamps pictured here. She plans to start a beading circle to share her gift and to keep the spirit of the project continuing. Ella Day offers her land to host the powerful ‘Village’ workshop experience designed to remind us that the whole village raises our children and that people of different backgrounds can work together as one. The gifted Frieda Werden- co-founder and producer of the long-standing radio program WINGS (Women’s’ International News Gathering Service ) has jumped in to offer a Women’s Media Camp this July 29-August 3 on Denman Island, where women will learn to use their IPads and smart phones to create and edit videos. A central focus for the media camp will be to cover the WWOS in Comox. The small ballet group on Denman will dance to music from A Tribe Called Red at the April show ‘Taking Flight’….and on it goes…

People have and will connect with this project in different ways and some will aspire for specific political and legal change. For others of us, this project quite simply cuts through and brings us into heart, with new resolve to help make things better in whatever way we can. The care and the love that has been woven into each of these pair of vamps brings home the real and sad truth of the loss of each of these women. It is true that there are probably more murdered and missing aboriginal men in Canada, and certainly more people who have died in car crashes from drunk drivers. These and other issues are equally as important. But the missing and murdered aboriginal women represent the most vulnerable people in our society, and provide the ground for us to move together towards something better on this and other fronts. Improving together as a society is the greatest way to honor them; that way, in the end, their lives truly mattered.