“We need all of that to survive”: Interview with Linda Young, artist and Traditional Knowledge Keeper – Canada

Veronica Yates, Director of CRIN, in conversation with Linda Young, artist and Traditional Knowledge Keeper for the Saskatchewan Public School Division in Canada. | This content originally featured in the magazine Power, which is free to download here: http://bit.ly/CRIN-Power

When we first met you told us about how you want to break intergenerational trauma and that this was one of your messages in your piece. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

The work that I started doing as an art student was always related to the Land, to residential schools, and to being an Indigenous woman. And Land or Earth, not land ownership, but Land as a place of grounding, a place where you go home in spirit and emotions and heart, and physically, that was important to me.

There was a term that used to identify my work which is a ‘reparative act’ and I liked that because the Indian Act was what destroyed us. The Indian Act put us in residential schools, it took away our languages, our culture, all of that, and so I really like the term reparative act because what I do in the process is I repair an incident that happened in history. […]

We need all of that to survive. But we don’t understand that as human beings. And that’s part of indigenous knowledge.

People always say scientists discovered this or know this to be true… we’ve known this for centuries, we’ve known this is true and we are all keepers in indigenous teachings: some people are responsible for the air, the fire, the water and the land. That’s how we see ourselves, [as] keepers of the land, and the land is being destroyed and that means we’re not doing our job. If you’re the keeper of air and there’s pollution, you’re not doing your job.

I think the important thing is to realise in this discussion that we are holistic people and so every time we do something as indigenous people, we are considering everything, everything around us, and I think we should do the same throughout the world. […]

Talking about land, Indigenous people have always been at the forefront of defending the natural world. You also mention the importance of land in your own artwork. Is this the case for many other Indigenous artists?

Every artist that I am aware of is addressing issues of language, addressing issues of land and their personal stories or their personal troubles. I think most Indigenous artists share their stories in their art, centred on causes that are meaningful for them.

As artists, we look at things holistically, we have a tendency to address all of those things. I think that we can have one story but we tell lots of stories, or one piece has lots of stories within that one piece. […]

Source: “The Power of Healing”, Linda Young, artist and Traditional Knowledge Keeper for the Saskatchewan Public School Division in Canada, interviewed by Veronica Yates, Director of Child Rights International Network CRIN, in “The Power of Healing”, 15 January 2020
URL: https://home.crin.org/readlistenwatch/stories/2020/5/6/the-power-of-healing

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