VANCOUVER: Rennie Collection: Lalakenis/All Directions: A Journey of Truth and Unity

Photo: Bernadette Phan

On July 2, 2014, renowned Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw artist Chief Beau Dick along with 21 companions set out from the University of British Columbia on a journey to Ottawa which they called Awalaskenis II: Journey of Truth and Unity. Intending to raise awareness about the plight of the environment and to challenge elected officials to attend to the relationship between the federal government and First Nations people, the group brought with them many objects including a copper shield known as Taaw made by Giindajin Haawasti Guujaaw, the Haida carver and former president of the Haida Nation. Guujaaw had encouraged Dick to make this journey, having been inspired by the 2013 Awalaskenis I journey from Quatsino on the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Victoria.

Along the way, the travellers visited First Nations communities across the country to gather support and to increase the value of the copper through ceremony. Through social media, they drew attention to the journey. Many artists and communities contributed sacred objects collected from up and down the continent – some of them considered to be sentient beings – to be carried to the copper-breaking event. Lalakenis/All Directions: A Journey of Truth and Unity brings together these objects in a reconstruction of the site of the ceremony on Parliament Hills, and documents the journey through videos, photographs and narrative.

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo: Bernadette Phan.