The name of Wetaskiwin City and County comes from the Cree term wîtaskîwin spatinâw. Loosely translated it means the place, or hills of peace.
For Alberta Culture Days, the Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum recently held a special event to open the Connect 4 exhibit, featuring Canada’s Indigenous Group of Seven artists.
Wetaskiwin Mall was honoured to be part of a select group to support such an important initiative celebrating Canadian Indigenous art, culture and history.
“We were one of five sponsors to make this exhibit happen,” says Brandy Pfeil, Property Administrator & Marketing Coordinator of Wetaskiwin Mall. “First and foremost, here in Wetaskiwin we are on Treaty Six land. This is land that was first touched by Aboriginal people. They paved the way for what this community is today.
“The opportunity for Avenue Living to sponsor an exhibit that celebrates the art from these communities is huge for us. Avenue Living is all about supporting and helping communities thrive. Being able to be part of something that literally is bringing history back to Wetaskiwin is amazing. Ultimately, it is an opportunity for us to show that we support and thank everybody who came before us and made it possible for Wetaskiwin to be the community it is today.”
The event was held September 27-29, but the public can view the art exhibit until November 2.
The Wetaskiwin & District Heritage Museum worked with Portage College’s Museum of Aboriginal Art and Artifacts in conjunction with the 2019 Battle River Lt. Governor of Alberta Arts Awards (LGAAA) for the Connect 4 exhibit.
MOAPAA houses the only permanent collection of the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. (PNIAI) group’s work in the world and loaned a selection of its collection to the Heritage Museum for the fall.The weekend was full of activities including guest speaker Joseph Sanchez, one of the last two living PNIAI members and Chief Curator of MOAPAA.
Organizers of the event said PNIAI is one of the most important alliances formed in Canadian Art History and includes the Indigenous Group of Seven (Daphne Odjiig, Alex Janvier, Joseph Sanchez, Norval Morrisseau, Eddy Cobiness, Carl Ray and Jackson Beardy, with honorary eighth member Bill Reid). The Connect 4 Exhibit included one representative piece from each of these eight artists. The overall exhibit theme was based on the medicine wheel metaphor and connections of four, which extend to the Maskwacis Cree Four Nations of Ermineskin, Louis Bull, Montana, and Samson. The artwork of the PNIAI was also connected through displays representing their influences, current professional Indigenous artists such as George Littlechild and Terry McCue, as well as those from the community and upcoming youth artists.
Pfeil says the exhibit also includes a portrait of young teenage Indigenous girl Autumn Peltier, a water advocate who recently made an address to the United Nations.
“An Aboriginal artist painted her portrait as he watched her address. It’s been all over the news. As soon as I walked in, I thought oh my goodness. This big, momentous portrait is right here, in Wetaskiwin.”