Indigenous Cultures Program
Funded by: An anonymous donor
Grant Program: Community Grants 2022
Founded in 1931 and located on the unceded territories of the xwməθkwəýəm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səĺilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations, the Vancouver Art Gallery is Western Canada’s largest public art museum.
The Gallery’s Indigenous Cultures Program featured a mixture of engaging online and in-person programming that has increased understanding of Indigenous lives and experiences in the community. A total of 90 community members benefitted from three Indigenous Beauty webinars and one Art Connects webinar.
The Gallery continued its efforts to decolonize by providing opportunities for Indigenous artists to showcase their work through special projects and exhibitions such as SPOTLIGHT: KC Hall (opened October 26, 2022) and Guud sans glans Robert Davidson: A Line That Bends But Does Not Break (opening November 26, 2022). A special Indigenous Blessing Ceremony was held at the future Vancouver Art Gallery building site on November 25, 2022.
The objectives of the Indigenous Cultures Program are multi-fold. First and foremost, we hope to increase participation of Indigenous Peoples in the cultural life of Metro Vancouver, as many individuals and groups have been denied opportunities to contribute in the past. Secondly, we hope to deepen understanding of the lives, experiences and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples among our community members, which helps to advance Reconciliation, create intercultural exchange and build a culture of care. Finally, we hope to increase awareness of the need for artistic institutions across the region to decolonize—through fair hiring practices, advocating for self-determination and the celebration of artistic achievements of disadvantaged groups—in order for Indigenous Peoples (and other people of colour) to feel welcome and accepted.
The Indigenous Cultures Program continues to be a key offering at the Gallery and a critical path towards Reconciliation with local Indigenous peoples. It provides opportunities for Indigenous artists and community members to be involved in the activities of the Gallery and to gain more visibility for their important artistic work and advocacy. The Program will continue next year with the installation of the Land Acknowledgement piece in the Lobby, two Indigenous-focused exhibitions curated by Dr. Richard Hill (who is of Cree heritage), and much more.