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Healing Art Donation For Kangiqsujuaq

Eva Wu

I first spoke with Candace Wilson at an Explorers Club meeting this past February. After learning about our Northern Lights project, this Toronto artist wanted to use her art to positively impact the community of Kangiqsujuaq.

Fast forward to April, I’m sitting in the living room of Candace’s colourful home. I came to pick up the series of chakras Candace generously agreed to donate to the wellness centre being built in Kangiqsujuaq. However - two hours later - along with the gorgeous paintings, I left with new knowledge about the ability of art to heal, and an increased appreciation for the importance of connecting with nature.

The donated chakra series includes 7 paintings, each a different colour of the rainbow. Candace explained the theory stating each colour resonates at a different frequency, the waves of which correspond to different parts of the body. For example, green heals heart-related illnesses, while teal supports recovery from throat or communication issues. In the paintings that are currently on their way up North, there are gemstones attached to the back, all of which are said to radiate healing energy.

Many of Candace’s works have found permanent homes in institutions like St. Michael’s Hospital and the Concussion Centre in Toronto. While creating healing art, Candace pays careful attention to details like using rounded instead of hard lines. I remember speaking to the students in Kangiqsujuaq about how shapes in photos convey emotions, so it was interesting to hear how Candace includes these techniques in her paintings as well.

What do a helicopter pilot, a sommelier, an entrepreneur, and a wilderness explorer have in common? Candace Wilson has been each one at some point in her life. As someone who has traversed both African deserts and Antarctic ice fields, Candace spoke passionately about the importance of spending time outdoors.

During her expeditions to the Canadian Arctic, she witnessed how the introduction of technologies (like TV and internet) have negatively impacted mental health in Northern communities. We discussed how the influx of Southern media creates feelings of worthlessness among youth. The media only showcases culture and beauty ideals from the South, not assigning any value to Northern people and practices. Candace believes these harmful influences should be replaced with traditional activities - like being out on the land - to boost self-esteem and hope for the future.

Our Northern Consultant, Ashley Cummings, had this to add:

“I think that the media portrays the bad in the north, but always only for brief periods of time rather than utilizing the power of media to get help...This gives youth the impression that the north is almost dirty, tainted with crime and sadness...I’ve heard friends say “I wish my skin were lighter” and “I really hope I move down south, I can’t wait to leave this place.” The media doesn’t show the beauty of the North in the landscape, culture, and most of all the people. It has just caused a lot of shame and instead of integrating the North and the South, it just segregated the two.”

At North in Focus, we believe that teaching skills in digital storytelling - through photography or videography - is one step towards empowering Northerners to share the beauty of their homeland. This will hopefully help strengthen Northern pride, as well as change perspectives in the South.

In conclusion, on behalf of the North in Focus team and the community of Kangiqsujuaq, I’d like to say a big thank you to Candace for her donation of healing art for the wellness centre. I’m confident the installation will have a positive impact on many.

Candace’s art (inlcuding gorgeous Arctic land and waterscapes) can be purchased on her website: www.candacewilsonartstudio.com

She can also be found on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CandaceWilsonArtStudio

Happy Spring everyone,

Gabrielle

"Art with Heart" Becomes "North in Focus"

Eva Wu

North in Focus Grass in Kangiqsujuaq

The Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. In our case, Art with Heart is setting in the south, and a new initiative is rising in the north. After experiencing great success with our Northern Lights project in Kangiqsujuaq, we have decided to rebrand our organization. This is in order to more effectively reflect our focus on promoting mental health in the Canadian Arctic. 

Enter "North in Focus". This new identity encapsulates our desire to use digital media to showcase both the beauty and the struggles of Inuit communities. North in Focus will continue to lead workshops for youth, where students are empowered to use photos and videos to share their stories and spark conversations about mental health. While knowledge and memories live on in the minds of workshop participants, the art they create serves to teach and impact other community members.  

We are also looking forward to incorporating other methods of mental health promotion into these workshops! For example, we will be placing a bigger emphasis on sport in our next project. After witnessing how important sports are in the lives of youth in Kangiqsujuaq - and learning about Clara Hughes' work with Right to Play - we are confident that incorporating sport into the program will allow us to reach more students. I can say from personal experience that engaging in athletics is a stress-reliever, a confidence booster, and so much more. I am excited for this next step in the ongoing development our mental health workshop program.

On yet another positive note, we have begun planning our next project! This workshop will take place in Nain, Nunatsiavut. Therefore, the project name will reflect our goal of putting "Nain in Focus". We are currently in conversation with youth in Nain so we can get this ball rolling, and customize the program to the needs and interests of students at the Jens Haven Memorial School.

Cheers to the dawn of the next stage in the life of this organization,

Gabrielle