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The Canadian – Part II

April 3, 2017

Second post from Indigineous artist-in-residence, Patrick Hunter, currently traveling across country courtesy of VIA Rail.

April 3, 2017

“Are you a boxer?” Is a question I’ve been asked more than once on this trip so far. The answer is a “hard no”, followed by a soft chuckle. Though I can understand their confusion. I’m 5ft 11″, 225 pounds, slightly beefy, scarred hands and huuuuge shoulders. “I’m actually an artist”, are the next words out of my mouth. The compete polar opposite of a boxer. The scars on my hands are from clumsy mistakes with exacto-blades, breaking glasses while washing them with my huge hands, and my most recent brush with mortality – getting my ring finger caught in my grandpa’s 50 year old fan. How did that happen you ask? I was attempting to dry my clothes faster THE DAY I began this train journey. Let me just say, they do not make fans like they used to. Without getting too far into the gory details I ended up in a walk in clinic in Vancouver and tried not to faint as the doc positioned some skin back in place and put three strips of tape on it in hopes that it will bond back together.   : |  Like a boxer perseveres through a fight, I didn’t let it stop me from boarding this train! (And luckily I became friends with a nurse named Mary from Kamloops who cleaned it up for me 😀 ) That was three days ago. We’re now winding through north western Ontario. The Canadian Shield to be exact, just a few short hours away from where I grew up in Red Lake, ON. By chance, the gentleman sitting behind me in the sky-car asks, “do you know where we are?” and in an instant we pass Red Lake Rd. I point and say, “that’s the road home for me!” I start thinking of home and what my family and friends might be up to two hours north of where the train crossed the highway. I’m thinking about how amazing it is that I’m able to travel across this country for Prince’s Charities Canada, gathering inspiration for paintings that I’ll create after this is over. The words, “Canada made us”, come to mind. Said by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, after her and King George VI’s cross-country visit to Canada in 1939. I can totally relate to those words, because I know for sure that this trip has made me too. Having Ojibway blood surging through my veins has always been something I’ve known that connects me to the land here in Canada. To actually experience and see the county though, is another thing that only deepens my connection. Reconnecting Indigenous people to their languages was something I was surprised by when I discovered the PCC’s initiative to do so. Prince’s Charities Canada found success restoring Welsh speakers in the U.K. which is very encouraging for our Indigenous brothers and sisters across Turtle Island. We are still in the ring after all we’ve gone through collectively as a people, it’s up to people like you and me to never give up!

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