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The Canadian – Part IV

April 13, 2017

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

April 13, 2017

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My last day on the train was 12 days ago. Since my return to Toronto, life’s been flying by at a much faster pace than the slow steady roll of the train. I’ve moved into the new apartment (it looks exactly like an artist is squatting in there, no furniture, just artwork and supplies). I’ve been catching up on orders for prints of my artwork and sending those out to people around Canada. Lastly, I’ve been prepping material for a Woodland Art course that I’m teaching at my old high school in Red Lake, ON.

I think back to that last day on the train, we were 6 hours behind schedule and from what I heard, that’s kind of normal. VIA Rail shares the tracks with the CN freight trains which have priority, and which hopefully means our economy is moving well. That day they fed us a complimentary lunch, which we all graciously accepted because the chefs during the trip were just so fantastic!

If anything, the train was a great place to reflect on my life and my role as artist in residence to the Prince’s Charities Canada. The opportunity to see the country on the train is not something most artists in Canada get to do. It’s not the smoothest ride in the world so creating anything beyond rough sketches was about the limit of artistic possibilities when you’re an artist of the Woodland art form, but included in this post are a couple I was working on during the ride.

As the artist in residence for the Prince’s Charities Canada it is for sure a fantastic opportunity to meet great people and travel, but then comes the important work. The work actually is a combination of a narrative that works to try and change minds about the word “reconciliation”, and the visual art that will accompany it. To me, reconciliation is creating a lasting memory of the hardships that were endured by the 7 generations of Indigenous people in Canada so that the next 7 generations will never have to repeat it.

At this specific point in our time here, it seems as though there are leaders and people around the world tearing down the bridges that unite us. If you pay attention to the 24 hours news cycle, it has become a series of head shake after head shake lately. For me, it’s been a call to action and I think answering that call as well has been the Prince’s Charities Canada. Their work in making it better for disadvantaged people in Canada and the world has been amazing.

As I sit here from my edge of the world in Red Lake, ON, I’m about to teach young minds about painting and artwork. I’m reminded about the fact that there’s more work to be done. It’s not fully the job of big charities or governments to make it better for people. It takes the work of just regular people too, to make it better for everyone because at the end of the day, we’re all on this earth together.

I have to thank the Prince’s Charities Canada for believing in my artwork enough to come up with this crazy idea to put an artist on a train for 4 days. The sights I’ve seen and the experience will be something that I’ll never forget. Stay tuned for future posts with more artwork inspired by my train trip across Canada! Brushes will be hitting the canvasses soon!

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