Canada 150 Signature project in Memorial Hall
In Memorial Hall at Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown there hangs a 22-foot dreamcatcher made by Mi’kmaq artist Nick Huard. For Huard, dreamcatchers are a tool for envisioning the future and the national dreamcatcher is meant to serve as a means for nation building, inclusivity, and starting a conversation. The piece is entitled, The Dreams of What Canada Should Be.
Many First Nations across Turtle Island—or North America—carry their own legends of the dreamcatcher but it is commonly recognized that they were passed down from the Ojibway through intermarriage and trade. The patterns of the dreamcatcher are similar to how some First Nations tied the webbing for their snowshoes. As the legend goes, the dreamcatcher is meant to help people reach their goals; the web will catch one’s good ideas and dreams and the bad ones will fall through.
The creation of the national dreamcatcher began this past winter with a workshop tour across Canada. Huard, his apprentice artist Watio Splicer, and a creative team from the Centre travelled to the thirteen provinces and territories, teaching youth about dreamcatchers and other dream traditions and exploring their hopes for the future.
Huard and Splicer helped the youth create their own small dreamcatchers that were later woven together into a united exhibition in Charlottetown. The completed art work, comprised of over 200 dreamcatchers, is now on display and can be visited through the remainder of 2017 during regular daily hours at the Centre.
Born in Restigouche, New Brunswick, Huard lived on reserve in the Gaspésie region before being sent to residential schools. He emerged from these schools fluent in English and French, but having lost his own Mi’kmaq language.
In addition to spending a career as a broadcaster and cameraman, Huard has dedicated his life to the arts, creating dreamcatchers for many years, and his works hang in museums around the world. The materials he uses are all natural, handmade from rawhide and polishing turquoise into shells and into bone. No creatures have been killed or maimed in the fabrication of his dreamcatchers.
The Dream Catchers is a Canada 150 Signature project, funded by the Government of Canada, sponsored by TD, produced by Confederation Centre.