ᐄᓃᐤ ÎNÎW Indigenous Art Park

Welcome to this musical journey of the ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park. 

Tansi and tatawaw. Welcome to ᐄᓃᐤ ÎNÎW, the Indigenous art park. Today, we’re going to take you on a journey, a journey to maybe see the park in a different way than you’ve seen it before. And really what this journey is going to be, is it’s going to be connecting.

It’s going to be connecting with yourself. Connecting with the land. And that, in turn, will create a different experience for you at the park.

We are here today on Treaty Six territory in Amiskwaciwâskahikan, in Edmonton, Alberta.

And this land has been home for many Indigenous people. For time immemorial.

And we are excited that we can share this land and that we can experience the beauty of this land together here today.

What I want you to do is if you are at the art park, if you are watching. What we’re first going to do is we’re going to just take a deep breath. And I want you to reflect on when was the last time that you truly took a deep breath? And that you took a moment. A moment to be still.

We’re gonna start off this way because, in order for us to connect with the land, we have to be human beings. And not human doings. So I invite you with the drumbeat, to breathe in. And then breathe out.

Breathe in. [drum beat] Breathe out. [drum beat] Breathe in. [drum beat] And breathe out. [drum beat] Breath in. [drum beat] Breathe out. [drum beat] Breathe in. [drum beat] And breathe out.

I invite you now. To start moving around the art park, and there’s no particular way that you have to move around today.

Wherever you feel like you need to go, be there, but be present.

Oftentimes we find ourselves going about our life. [pause] Not really being present, not being within our body. And today, I want you to really feel your body. Feel your footsteps on the land. The land that many people have travelled along for time immemorial.

I want you to feel the air on your face, the same air that people have been feeling. For generations and generations.

I want you to look around and experience the land.

Look at the grass. But really, look at it. Look at the stems. Look at the colour.

Remember that everything has a spirit. Everything has a ahcâhk ᐊᐦᒑᕁ, a spirit. We believe that our spirit came from the stars, that we’re all star beings.

And that a long time ago, ayisiniwak ᐊᔨᓯᓂᐊᐧᐠ came down to the earth. And she became the ayisiniwak ᐊᔨᓯᓂᐊᐧᐠ. The people of the land.

And we believe that when we pass away our body stays on this earth then our soul goes back up to the stars.

And we believe that everything has this star being inside it. The tree has a spirit. The water has a spirit. And the land has a spirit. As you walk around, I’m going to share with you a song about the Earth. The biggest rock that we stand on, our Mother Earth. Our asani. asani means rock.

This song that I’m going to share with you is called asani. And feel free to continue to move about as you listen.

 [drum beat begins]

I want you to take a second, and look down at the river – nîpîy ᓃᐲᕀ

Nîpîy ᓃᐲᕀ means water. And we are born in water. We are made of water. Water is us. It is what connects us back to this land. The land that ÎNÎW is on, the art park is right beside the Saskatchewan River. Kisiskâciwani-sîpiy ᑭᓯᐢᑳᒋᐊᐧᓂ ᓰᐱᕀ the river that moves at a walking speed. And this river connects not only land, but it connects people. The rivers the whole reason why Amiskwaciwâskahikan exists. And the river is our cousin. And we must treat the river the way that we treat ourselves.

I have a beautiful song to share. And this song has a really interesting story behind it. There is a woman and she heard this song. This song is sung across nations. It’s known across nations, and it’s a water protection song. There is a woman long ago who wanted to know what language this song was in. She went all the way across Turtle Island asking about this song. And every elder, every person told her that song is in water language.

And sometimes we forget. That our relations, the trees, the swimmers, the crawlers, the water has its own language. So this song embodies the way that water is. Sometimes water is calm. Just like in a lake. Or sometimes it’s fast, just like it is in the Saskatchewan River. So this is a water song.

[drum beat begins]

The land that we stand on is miskinâhk ministik ᒥᐢᑭᓈᕁ  ᒥᓂᐢᑎᐠ. Turtle Island. And Turtle Island, North America, has a heartbeat. It’s the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

And it’s the heartbeat that when I drum that’s the heartbeat that I’m playing. And that is the sound, that is the first sound that anybody ever hears. And is the heartbeat of not our heart, but it’s, the heartbeat of our mother when we’re in the womb. And that sound connects us all. It connects everybody. It reminds us that we all come from the same place. And it reminds us, we also share the same heartbeat, as the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

[drum beat. drum beat. drum beat]

There are two parts to the heartbeat. There’s the weak part. And there’s the strong part. And that really reflects our life. There are times in our life where we’ll go through weak moments. But then we have to remember that they’re followed by the strong. And when we’re in those strong moments, that’s when we gather our group of friends and our group of support. Because they will carry us through those weak moments. There’s a lot to learn from the land. And sometimes we miss out on those teachings because we’re just not present. As you walk around the art park, I want you to think about a time when there wasn’t technology. And the only way that we got our information was through the land. [pause] And that creates a huge amount of respect for the land.

And it creates a relationship with the land that’s different than the relationship that we might have with it now. There is a time where we truly lived off the land and we truly loved the land.

And the land took care of us. And we took care of her.

This next song that I’m going to sing for you is a song about love. Love for our land. Love for our people.

And the song really embodies the different feelings that come with love. Those longing feelings or those feelings when you miss somebody that you love. Or those feelings when you’re happy. As you continue to walk around, I invite you to think about the things that you really love in your life.

Our time here today is coming to a close. But I want you to know that you can always come back to the art park. And you can always experience the land the way that you have, hopefully, done today. I hope this journey today has been good for you. I hope that you’ve been able to connect with the land and connect with this park in a way that you haven’t before. I hope that this was an opportunity for you to connect with the heartbeat of Mother Earth and your own heartbeat. And that today, hopefully, you had time to be a human being instead of a human doing. This last song that I’m going to leave you with is a song for you. It’s a song about love. And you have to remember that you also deserve love. And so I thank you for taking time out of your day today. To connect to the land and to be with me.

[consistent drum beat begins]

[rhythmic vocalization]


give me your love

yes I need you dear

hold me so close

and hold me so near

give me your love (your love)

and it burst through my soul

come lay with me

I won’t let you go

[rhythmic vocalization]

when you are down and

when you are low

my love will bloom for you

because I love you so

let me give you my love

let it burst through your soul

come lay with me cause

I love you so

[rhythmic vocalization]

[drum stops. rhythmic vocalization continues]

[vocalization ends]