On April 19, the Cree School Board held its popular annual Art Exhibition. The event took place at École Wiinibekuu School in Waskaganish and displayed over 300 beautiful works of arts from the James Bay schools.

The exhibits included many types of art: paintings, drawings, pastels, papier-mâché, sculpture… and also photography, a progressive new art form that captures our youth’s sensitive impulses. Some images were stunning!

Seven communities participated in this year’s event and the exhibition committee was pleased to receive so many samples of Eeyou talent originating from all over the territory. The team took two days to set up the displays and made sure that the exhibits were presented by grade levels. The exhibits were identified from the back, concealing their ownership and point of origin, until they had been properly viewed and rated by the judges.

The three judges took to the task whole-heartedly, making the tough decisions at times, and following a strict order of criteria. Our sincere thanks go to Darlene Cheechoo (commissioner), Sherry Weistche (consultant) and Marty Cowboy for a job well done. All the exhibits were rated according to technical aspects (size, shape, texture) but also by content, statement and emotional response.

All agree on how important art is within our school curriculum. Besides the usual aesthetic qualities we associate it with, art is a transmitter of culture and race. Our communities should not neglect this form of expression and seek to promote it as often as possible. Needless to say, Native arts and crafts should be emphasized in our school programs, relentlessly.

But most importantly, art provides our youth with an extra means of expression, which allows them to reach us with important messages about themselves, their well-being and their hopes. Some messages are moving, some are touching, all of them are tale telling. When youth reach us, they teach us. When we take the time to really ask the students how they see the work that they’ve produced, their answers are often surprising and revealing of their spirit.