On Thursday September 21st, Charlene Avalos, a dear family friend who has worked for the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto for several years, graciously invited me to an art exhibition. This event was supported by the Mooka’am Clinic to showcase the artistic talents of community members.
Charlene explained to me that these events play a crucial role in fostering a sense of community and highlighting the unique talents within it. This event is just one example of the many initiatives sponsored by the agency, all designed to bring Indigenous children, youth, and families together while strengthening their connections to one another and their Indigenous heritage. These gatherings promote a sense of belonging, boost pride and self-esteem, and nurture a profound sense of interconnectedness. The experience was truly heartwarming and inspiring.
The show was organized by the Mooka’am Team who work at Native Child and Family Services. It was Mooka’am‘s first ever Community Art Show. The team of counsellors wanted to create a venue for community members to showcase their beautiful art, share in that experience with others, and feel a sense of pride about their creativity and Indigenous identity.
All of the counselling rooms were transformed into mini art galleries, with pieces displayed on walls and fireplace mantles. Folks mingled, sharing the stories behind their art – and even creating new pieces at the art station in the family room.
For many community members, the inspiration behind their art is Nature, Culture, and Spirit. Tatjana Moffat, who titled her collection of pieces “Returning Home”, uses art and symbolism to keep herself in a constant state of learning and enlightenment. Kris Mte’skm, a Mi’kmaq artist from Lennox Island, PEI, said of the inspiration for her sketches: “I find pictures in trees. I’ll see a face or a figure. Or I’ll find it in an oil puddle. I find it everywhere.”
For Ernest Arsenault, another artist displaying several colourful pieces and even a sketchbook of his own work, he finds inspiration from artists Picasso, Matisse, and anything else that catches his eye. As laughter and joy flooded the rooms and halls of this small heritage building, it reminded all of the importance of sharing these gifts with others.
The Mooka’am Team hopes that this will be the first of many shows to come. The Native Child and Family Services of Toronto’s next event is scheduled for Saturday, September 30th, the 25th Annual Community Pow Pow at Dufferin Grove Park. The gathering will commence with a sunrise ceremony, followed by the Grand Entry at noon, in accordance with cultural traditions.
The Native Child and Family Services of Toronto is a multifaceted agency that provides holistic wraparound support for Indigenous children, youth, adults and families. Using the traditional Medicine Wheel framework, the multiple services and programs focus on well-being and healing Spirit, Mind, Heart and Body. The head office is situated at 30 College Street in downtown Toronto. For inquiries, please contact them at 416-969-8510. To make a donation, you can do so by visiting this link.