Inspirational trip starts Friday

  • Nov. 2, 2009 7:00 p.m.

By Judy McKinley–It’s Halloween afternoon. Joyce Bennett’s kitchen is bustling with activity, as women who span four generations de-stem, wash, and coat what will become 300 candy apples for trick or treaters, an annual tradition. Sporting a kid-sized apron, 6 year old granddaughter Isabel, demonstrates the technique for placing popsicle sticks in the apples. Aunty Clara (Hugo), with a flexibility that utterly belies her age, bends to retrieve apples in the relay line. And right there in the kitchen is the spirit of the upcoming Naanii and Jaadaa trip to museums to Vancouver, Ottawa and New York. It’s an intergenerational women artists’ trip to see Haida artworks, and to share in the inspiration and learning of seeing their ancestors’ work up close. “The idea of seeing all the old button blankets and weaving in storage give our work a whole new meaning”, says Ms Bennett.The night before there was a roast in the oven, and Ms Hugo was on her feet all night serving guests at a packed prime rib fundraising dinner and auction at the Tluu Xaad Naay Longhouse as well as making moccasins for the auction. “To have all those people support you, that was nice,” she says. The group has held a couple of other dinners, loonie toonie auctions, and after two years of fundraising, they head off on Friday for a week. “Lucille (Bell) started it, says Ms Bennett. They wanted to get the younger generation interested in Haida art. “Over the years I have seen many collections around the world and I realize that what a privilege it is”, says Ms Bell.The extraordinarily prolific Ms Bell (she is co-proprietor of the Haida Rose Café, curated virtualmuseum.ca and initiated various manifestations of traditional Haida stories, among her myriad achievements) is just back from a museum trip to England. “One of the best things about repatriation trips is seeing the collections and seeing peoples’ faces light up, and seeing them tear up at the incredible work of our people,” she said.The group includes weavers – in spruce root, cedar and Raven’s Tail, – an argillite carver, blanket makers and a curator. “To see how our weaving is compared to our ancestors’ . it’s an ongoing tradition,” says Ms Bennett. I’m anxious to see my great grandmother’s weaving (Isabella Edenshaw), to see the growth in my aunties’ and nieces’ generation.” And the generational connections go on. Three young women held their own fundraising activities so they could join the trip. Haidas who live in each of the cities will be welcome to join the group. “We’ll be on the look-out for Haidas in these urban centres and we look forward to inviting them along and sharing our art, language and cultural stories with them,” says Ms Bell.The group sets off Friday. Look for them when they come back. Ms. Bell promises: “When we return, all energized and inspired, we will create new weavings, carvings and regalia together for a fashion and art show.”