A way of identification goes past first and final names. For Lana Whiskeyjack, co-owner and curator of Whiskeyjack Artwork Home positioned in Amiskwaciy (Edmonton, Alberta), her identification is tied to her household’s historical past and her connection to the land.
Whiskeyjack remembers the story of how her authentic final identify, kwêskácahk, was modified to a colonial model: Whiskeyjack. As a result of tough pronunciations, identify modifications have been widespread for a lot of Indigenous Peoples all through Canada, endlessly altering their self-identity. Regardless of that, the English identify turned an vital a part of her and her household’s lives. A lot in order that, on the fiftieth marriage ceremony anniversary of her grandparents, Whiskeyjack remembers an vital dialog along with her grandmother.
“She simply actually wished me to vow to by no means get married however I mentioned I couldn’t promise that, however I promise to by no means change my final identify,” she says.
Preserving the identify maintains a household matriarchal connection, Whiskeyjack says. “My household endured a lot grief and loss, but additionally energy, abilities and tales which are linked to our identify.” Whiskeyjack honours that promise to at the present time. “You will need to take care of our grandmothers. I’m grateful that we’re in a position to proceed carrying the identify.”
Whiskeyjack is initially from Saddle Lake Cree Nation from Treaty Six territory, however she obtained a fantastic educating throughout her upbringing: she is from this land, not a spot with a reputation. “Our Cree creation tales inform us particularly that we’re free,” she says. “Our spirit got here from the cosmos and the heavens, we’re made of 4 elements of the earth.” Whiskeyjack says she has a job and accountability to reconnect to the teachings of her tradition and the land. She goals to keep up the connection to each.
“Edmonton is a gathering place for a lot of of our nations and it’s vital that we come collectively and construct these relations (between teachings and the land).”
Whiskeyjack Artwork Home is a testomony to her ardour for reconnecting to her tradition and teachings. Whiskeyjack is enthusiastic about Indigenous tourism as a result of it supplies alternatives of connection and understanding.
“Bringing practices of kindness, sharing, being trustworthy and brave are rules into creating good relations by means of Indigenous tourism,” she says. “Indigenous individuals carry so many lovely teachings, traditions and tales of this land that the remainder of Canada and guests to those lands can study, and construct a more healthy relationship with the land.”