Lake Temagami, Ontario.
This Community Gathering was hosted by Christine Friday, Founder of Friday Creeations. Christine is engaging in a creative and cultural space project to build an arts space on Friday’s Point. This project framed the conversation around developing community creative space on Friday’s Point.
Dance Studio Lodge, an outdoor performance venue and studio space, will be the link to ensure on-going artistic creation with land-based activity within the community, while expanding the connection to Indigenous arts professionals and diversity of arts practice. This cultural space will be an environment that is professional, welcoming, accessible, and safe to inspire collaborative visions where artists are free to learn, create, and perform.
Vision: To inspire and serve the community with professional performance and traditional art practices to awaken storytelling rooted in land and individual creativity, connection and healing.
Mission: Based on true mind sovereignty influenced by land; Friday Creeations is taking power back with autonomic sovereignty through the arts and community.
Mandate: Friday Creeations is a multi-faceted First Nations professional arts and community platform that encourages creative entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency that connects to power and truth.
Community Gathering Circle
On Sunday, October 17, 2021, individuals came together in circle at Friday’s Point, located near Bear Island and Temagami, Ontario. Friday’s Point is the family land of the Gathering host, Christine Friday, Founder of Friday Creeations. Indigenous artists and community members from Temagami and surrounding areas such as Nipissing First Nation came together to speak to what is needed for future of Indigenous creative spaces to be developed in the community.
About Friday’s Point
Friday’s Point was originally the site of a former hunting lodge, managed by family members in its early years. In an act of violence and hate, the lodge was burned down. In the 1960s, the lodge was a point of tourism for visitors to gather and learn about. Christine Friday is in the process of reclaiming the land in many different respects, including developing a creation space on the family land. Doing this allows Christine to create a stronger artistic presence in the Temagami territory by engaging creatively with the community.
An image from the Friday’s Point Community Gathering.
The importance of family, love, and land framed the conversation for the day. Circle members shared knowledge around how Indigenous creative spaces can support community, the values of future Indigenous creative spaces, and the logistics of how a space could be structured.
How an Indigenous space can support community
The Gathering Circle shared thoughts and feelings around how an Indigenous creative space supports community identity and culture through its artistic programming, as Indigenous artists who use the space should not feel as if their cultural or artistic identity is harmed. An Indigenous creative space can support artists as a safe and culturally-sensitive place with arts-based programming that is rooted in traditional Indigenous practices and knowledge, giving space for artists to feel proud of their culture and art. There is a need for more spaces that provide this welcoming and culturally-supportive atmosphere, as the Gathering Circle reflected on settler spaces where there are restrictions in place that do not allow for cultural songs to be sung, for example.
Values of an Indigenous space
The Gathering Circle acknowledged that the presence of feasting and ceremony in a creative space can support community as an example of its dedication to traditional cultural values. There is a need for more Indigenous spaces to be developed that honor ancestors and the teachings of family through its programming.
Feeling physically and emotionally safe when entering an Indigenous sovereign space is also very important to consider. As an example of an Indigenous-led safe space, the Gathering Circle noted Aanmitaagzi’s Big Medicine Studio in Nipissing, Ontario. Aanmitaagzi regularly hosts arts-based programming rooted in traditional knowledge in the Big Medicine Studio, and there is a level of comfort that the space evokes.
Planning future spaces
The new space on Friday’s Point, or any Indigenous creative space, can exist outside of the common vision for a multi-million dollar facility. The Gathering Circle expressed concern that the funding models used to support large westernized arts facilities does not support the scope, financial risk, and governance needed by Indigenous organizations. All funding options should be considered when developing an Indigenous creative space as well; for example, if the band system does not fit the vision an Indigenous creative space, financing options outside of the band should be explored.