Our Spirit Name

Ishkaabatens Waasa Gaa Inaabateg (Little Smoke that goes far)

In 2017, the Visual and Aboriginal Art Department received the spirit name Ishkaabatens Waasa Gaa Inaabateg (Little Smoke that goes far) from Anishinabek Knowledge Keeper Barb Blind. The Visual and Aboriginal Arts program has made significant contributions to our local and University community. Our program is born out of the vision to honour Indigenous Art history, and that art contributes to wellbeing. This name is our commitment to building safer and braver spaces that are inclusive of the student body, pedagogy and Indigenous knowledges. Our spirit name, and the work connected to this name, is a part of our commitment to honouring the ‘Calls to Action’ written by the TRC Commission.

The work for our Naming Ceremony started months before Jan 2017. We approached our elders to inquire about Spirit Colours. The idea was to incorporate these colours into our work developing relationships with local community, as our collective acknowledgement of territory, outreach, and to demonstrate a deepening of our commitment to Indigenous knowledge within all aspects of our program. Barb Blind suggested that the department might also want to think about a Spirit Name. On Jan 6, 2017, the department of Visual and Aboriginal Arts hosted 45 Community Members, Faculty, University Administration and University Students to witness the gifting of the name and the spirit colours. Knowledge Keeper Barb Blind gave our department the spirit name Ishkaabatens Waasa Gaa Inaabateg (Little Smoke that goes far) and gave us the spirit colours Brown + Red = Silver. These colours refer in part to tobacco, fire and smoke. The ceremony took place over four hours at the Glen P Sutherland Art Gallery.

Barb Blind is currently our department’s knowledge keeper–in-residence. We offer students and community access to sharing circles and sweats, and we partner with the Indigenous People’s Centre on the BU campus to offer free weekly beading sessions. These sessions are offered year-round, and during the summer months we have offered moccasin-making and gauntlet-making classes to students and community members at no cost. When we host Indigenous artists, we often partner with Indigenous Peoples Centre to hold workshops for students and community members. Visiting Indigenous artists have led workshops in IPC on animal hair tufting, beading, quillwork, and collaborative painting.