My name is Paul Seesequasis. I am originally from the prairies of Saskatchewan, and have lived in many parts of Canada and the world. I am Nehiyaw (Cree) and Ukrainian. I have lived on both reserves and cities. I am blessed with two gifted children and some dear friends.
The arts have always been central to my life, not only as a creator but also as a critic, consumer and observer. Words and stories are at the core of what inspires me, especially Indigenous words and stories, the creative acts of survival.
When the Idle No More movement arose in Canada last year, I was happy to see this seemingly swift manifestation of political resistance and Indigenous pride. But the title troubled me. I know my Mooshom and Kokom were never idle. I know my great grandparents were never idle, nor were my parents or aunts and uncles. Theirs was a resilient strength, a hard work ethic and a pride in being human in their own unique way that transcended the harshness of the time or de-powering institutions like residential schools. So this week, I plan to curate archival photos of the recent past century. The photos generally speak for themselves; few words are necessary. The images demand respect. They reflect upon us a timeless energy, a unsurpassable strength of spirit.
Beyond Indigenous creators, I look to Borges, Cortazar, Neruda and Marquez, who see beyond what just seems to be reality. Finally my own ancestors who give me strength, and responsibility, and are the reason I have the many blessings I have.
Dignity of the human spirit. The right to live in peace. The right to create and realise one’s potential. The right to be oneself and live without fear. Those fundamental human rights should also be matched with a respect for all living things, the sacredness of the earth and stars, the need to find a harmony with nature. In our self absorbed contemporary world, it is too easy to miss the natural beauty that surrounds us.
That the acts of our modern day storytellers, of all mediums, help us to achieve a reality in the Indigenous worlds where poverty, neglect, addiction and self-dislike, are manifestations of the past. It is that simple.