The Alapinta Project: Indigenous Education Through Community Arts and Cultural Exchange (Wilfrid Laurier University)
An estimated 370 million Indigenous peoples live in more than 70 countries worldwide, representing a rich tapestry of cultures, religions, traditions, languages and histories; yet they continue to experience social inequities regardless of country or region. The processes of colonization have had a profound influence on the wellbeing, the lands, and the cultural and artistic practices of Indigenous peoples. As a result, many Indigenous artists consider contemporary artistic practice a process of education, decolonization, resistance and reclamation, and healing–all of which are key factors in strengthening and decolonizing communities. This project involves Indigenous youth from communities within Six Nations, and Indigenous and Non-Indigenous youth from the surrounding communities in Ontario, Canada. This project is also a partnered exchange between Six Nations and the Mapuche peoples (The A La Pinta Muralist Collective) of Chile. Together, we will participate in cultural healing and arts practice workshops to create our own community murals, one in Brantford, Ontario and one on Six Nations, exploring the interwoven themes of identity, healing, friendship, education, and cultural pride.
The objectives of this project are to: 1. To empower Indigenous youth to be leaders, teachers and researchers in community education through environmental and arts practices in their communities; 2. To build an international exchange for cultural reclamation and Indigenous education in partnership with Six Nations and the Mapuche of the A La Pinta Muralists of Chile; 3. To increase knowledge about traditional and contemporary Indigenous values, cultures, leadership, and knowledge systems through decolonization, the growth and harvesting of medicines; intercultural exchange, and community arts practice; 4. To build strong and healthy relationships between Indigenous and Non- Indigenous youth in our communities.
This project works with communities, and youth in particular, to create community education strategies that are relevant to their context. The data and art that are the result of these workshops will acts as education resources that can be shared with other youth, various communities within and outside of Six Nations, community service providers, and a range of other stakeholders. The workshops, and the research process itself, produce culturally competent educational resources and community-building strategies that are supporting young people to develop leadership skills and to contribute to their communities.