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2020 Elders & Youth: Living & Loving our Cultures Workshop
Story by: Helena Jacobs

My mother, four of my children, and I were all blessed with the opportunity to participate in the first ever virtual FAI Elders & Youth Conference Living & Loving our Cultures workshops this year! My daughters and I were set up on a zoom call in our dining room doing the “Painting Our Ways of Life” workshop with Sylvia Lange (Tlingit) doing acrylic painting on canvas, my mom and son were set up on a Zoom call in our living room doing the “Cedar Bracelet Making” workshop with Debbie McLavey (Haida) and RoMay Edenshaw (Haida), and my other son was set up on a Zoom call in my office doing the “COVID-19 Mask Sewing” workshop with Mellisa Johnson (Inupiaq).

Sylvia asked each virtual workshop participant to choose something we wanted to paint, and then encouraged us and answered questions throughout. She shared about mixing paints, color theory, contrast, and techniques with different brushes or materials, while showing many examples of her work. It was so fun!

In reflecting on this workshop, my 7 year old said there were so many cool designs that people chose that had different patterns and colors that she felt inspired seeing what they made. She said it felt good to be able to be free to paint whatever she wanted. She had fun and loved this activity so much that she wanted to go to her grandpa’s house the next week to participate in a paint night activity led by Sugpiaq artist Sara Squartsoff online. As we were preparing our painting stations, my five year old excitedly exclaimed, “this is going to be the best day of my life!” because she was so excited to do this activity with her mom and her older sister.

Enaa baasee’ to The CIRI Foundation, to First Alaskans Institute, and to all our instructors and peers for this amazing opportunity!

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Alumni ・ Recipient ・ Participant

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