Issac Murdoch helps participants silk screen paint. Photo by Heidi Atter.
“We’re in a climate crisis,” says Isaac Murdoch. “The scientific community is actually saying we’re headed to an extinction if we don’t stop. Something that our elders have been saying for years.”
Isaac Murdoch was one of the featured artists at the Sacred Earth Art Build for Climate Justice, held on December 1 and 2 at the Gathering Place in Regina.
An art build is a group painting of a large banner, meant to block a road during a protest. While some paint the banner, others silkscreen print different designs onto dozens of canvas sheets. The two featured artists, Murdoch and Christi Belcourt, led participants in painting a five feet by 20 feet canvas banner and canvas sheets.
The art build brought together grassroots environmental groups to raise awareness about the environment on Treaty 4 territory. It included public open mic discussions, painting, silk screen printing, music, prayer and storytelling.
Belcourt and Murdoch are part of the Onaman Collective, which is a group of environmentalists and artists whose theme is respect and reclamation of their traditional ways. They are known from their visual images from the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016.
After being made in Regina the banners and canvas works are taken to the “front-line actions” against pipelines or resource extractions.
Belcourt has done art builds in San Francisco, Colorado, Michigan and Vancouver, and a mural in Los Angeles. “The only chance that we have is to come together as people,” Belcourt says. “It doesn’t matter to me if they’re Indigenous or non-Indigenous, all that matters to me is that they want to see a better future for their children and grandchildren.”
Murdoch says he has been to many art builds than he can count. “If we can get as may images out there for change, we’re hoping that it’ll help change the social conscious of humanity,” Murdoch says. “Of course we’re not going to do that ourselves, but if we can contribute to that, that’s something we can do.”
Murdock says after art the next step is action. Murdock hopes people will go to the “front-lines” and be inspired at home to make changes. “Sometimes the biggest front-line action that we can possibly have is with our own selves in our homes.”
Organizer Chasity Delorme said she wanted to have an art build because she considers it a part of her life purpose as an academic, a Cree woman, and a mother. Delorme wants to advocate for the land her children will have, because it’s her duty as an Indigenous woman.
Delorme says she wants to connect people. “We have many small groups that are doing things in the communities to advocate for the land, and we need to come together now because we’re stronger together.”
Stacey Fayant hangs silk screen painted canvases to dry. Photo by Heidi Atter.
Stacey Fayant brought her 10-year-old daughter to the Gathering Place, the Treaty 4 education center, and home of Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services, because she wanted her daughter to meet Christi Belcourt and see Indigenous culture and activism. “Here in Regina, there’s so few opportunities to witness political activism,” Fayant said.
“We can do better, human beings. We have the capacity, we have the technology to be able to go green and we’re just not doing it,” Christi Belcourt says. “We need to switch our thinking around.”