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This article was published 17/7/2017 (1809 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
At 17, Mackenzie Anderson is already using her paintbrush to draw attention to the issues that matter to her community.
The University of Winnipeg Collegiate student and St. James resident was recently named a junior winner for the Historica Canada Indigenous Arts & Stories contest for her piece, Nikawiy Nitanis.
The acrylic painting shows a daughter and mother together, which Anderson said is meant to be a message about how important mothers are to Indigenous culture. It’s also a reminder that the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis continues to claim the lives of mothers and other women in the community.
"I myself have lost a woman in my life and I know so many other people and family members who know women who are murdered and how it’s not always investigated properly or sometimes, it’s just pushed under the rug," Anderson said.
"I wanted to show the importance that women have in the community, and the impact that happens when they’re taken away. One of the most important relationships to me is my mother. The mother-daughter connection is really personal and when that bond between a mother and daughter or mother and son is taken away, it really wrecks the future generations."
Art and painting have been a lifelong passion for Anderson.
"I’ve been painting for as long as I can remember… my older brother was always drawing and painting so I just copied him," Anderson said. "I would love to do it as a career. I haven’t really thought much about it."
Bronwyn Graves, project manager at Historica, said Anderson’s piece was the unanimous first choice.
"The (jurors) generally look for a couple things," Graves said. "Two big themes keeping with the goal of the contest, which is the exploration of Indigenous history and culture, and also the artistic rendering. This piece scored highly on both, because it was visually striking. It was beautiful, and dealt with an important issue."
Anderson’s win in the contest means she will receive the Governor General’s history award in Ottawa later this year.
"It’s a wonderful experience for (the winners)," Graves said.
Anderson said it’s still too early to tell where her love for art will take her, as she’s only about to start Grade 12 at the collegiate. For now, she’s exploring various mediums and taking inspiration from other Indigenous artists, such as Jackie Traverse and Kent Monkman.
"I don’t think I have one set style because I’m still young and exploring, but I’ve heard the word contemporary used for my art," she said. "(Traverse) and (Monkman) are two Anishinaabe artists who just show their culture and their views in such a beautiful way. They don’t hold back, and I really love that.
"That’s something I’ve wanted to do, to show my culture and my point of view to almost educate people."
Community journalist — The Metro
Alana Trachenko was the community journalist for The Metro