Over the last many months, 4e and our community partners have been working to develop and install 32 historical interpretive plaques and 7 new permanent public sculptures around the Township of Billings to create the new Billings Connections Trail: Nature. Art. Heritage. The trail attempts to integrate the local heritage and history of Anishinaabeg and non-Indigenous residents and represents the Township’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015) ‘Calls to Action’ for public education that integrates indigenous history into municipal programs. The sculptures, selected by a community jury, respond to remarks Justice Sinclair has made that artists have a role to play in helping communities to imagine different kinds of relationships and communities. It is a small, first step, within the broader context of conversations and change that need to occur.
Over the last year while artists were busy designing and fabricating their sculptures, 4elements facilitated several months of community engagement to build understanding about the history of colonization through a film series focused on Indigenous issues, including a film screening and talk by Shirley Cheechoo, guest talks by elders and historians like Alan Corbiere, and a community process to create one of the public sculptures with local students and community members.
We welcome you to Elemental Festival, which this year marks 4e’s 15th anniversary, as well as the culmination of a massive community effort to build the Connections Trail. Festival engagements will encourage participants to consider the relationships between land, environment, environmental change and Truth & Reconciliation.
To view the full Festival lineup, check out our booklet here: https://issuu.com/4elementslivingarts/docs/elemental_festival_booklet_2017_fin