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April 22, 2024 — 

From March 24-27, law students from the Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts and L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic attended the second annual Northern Arts & Food Workshop hosted at University College of the North in The Pas. While in The Pas students stayed on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) at Kikiwak Inn. Learn about OCN and inspiring plans for the Opaskwayak community.

The Conference Program focused on Northern Manitoba and was organized in collaboration with Northern Manitoba communities, UCN, Creative Manitoba and Food & Beverage Manitoba. Over four dynamic days, students connected with all types of creatives, artists and individuals from organizations that support Northern arts, culture and food sectors and others involved in cultural and economic development in Northern Manitoba.

The event was focused on collaboration, with attendees engaging in both informal and formal spirited discussions to develop practical ideas for identifying needs, building and supporting means for greater cohesiveness, and inclusivity across the North and in both Indigenous and non-indigenous Northern Manitoban communities to be collectively more resilient and to reach new heights and opportunities as well as achieve more sustainable goals and financial stability. The conference included attendees from across Canada including Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon, with many from across all of Manitoba, from Ontario and elsewhere, who all came together to have meaningful conversations about the future, to learn and to share ideas on how to work together. For a full conference agenda and more information about presenters and breakout session hosts is on the conference website.

Here are just a few of many highlights from our Clinics journey:

Attendees were treated to truly inspiring stories from keynote speakers, all with the common thread of love for the arts, their communities, and livelihoods emphasizing its great importance and the need for support. Antoinette Greenoliph from Whitehorse, NWT, shared both hard and humorous moments from her life to underscore the power that art of all forms has to bring people together and inspire action and change for the better. Greenoliph also spoke of her prior award-winning restaurant business, the importance of resilience and working together. Teresie Tungilik, art historian, artist, arts administrator, and board member of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut who is also National President and Spokesperson of CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens) spoke about how Indigenous artists can protect their work, how non-Indigenous people can respectfully engage and collaborate with Indigenous Peoples and how we can all advocate for legislative change. She also spoke about the importance of artist resale rights and about how important intellectual property as a whole is to all artists. Christine Genier of Yukon Digital Theatre told her story as a Yukon First Nations artist, she emphasized that arts and culture must be supported within the conversation of language and culture revitalization.

Students discovered the importance of food and its relationship to Northern culture; and the intersection between arts, wellness, and the food and beverage industry. Students were privileged to engage not only with these keynote speakers but also with many Northern champions and others interested in collaborating to find solutions to challenges facing Northern Manitobans.

The students learned about many exciting initiatives and the people behind them, and at the same time, the gathering served as a great opportunity to share how the Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts and the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic can help individuals and communities in Northern Manitoba eliminate barriers of not having accessible legal information and supports needed in such areas such as intellectual property rights, contracts and other areas due to a lack of lawyers in Northern Manitoba; and, how law students at the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba, involved in the Business Law Clinic and new Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts, are able to help all Manitobans succeed.

Left to right: Emily Roberts-Young [BA/2022], Cassandra Marcotte, Crystal Kolt, O.M. [BMus/1984], Kassandra Taverner (2L), Stephan Possin (3L), Austin Sutherland (3L) and Scott Groot (3L).

Left to right: Emily Roberts-Young [BA/2022], Cassandra Marcotte, Crystal Kolt, O.M. [BMus/1984], Kassandra Taverner (2L), Stephan Possin (3L), Austin Sutherland (3L) and Scott Groot (3L).

Crystal Kolt, O.M. [BMus/1984], Director of Cultural and Community Initiatives for the City of Flin Flon and Emily Roberts-Young [BMus/2022], project manager for imagiNorthern Regional Development Project presented about an incredibly innovative, empowering and inspiring initiative of the Flin Flon Arts Council, known as imagiNorthern; and a trailblazing new initiative called – Shopinabox. It includes everything a remote Northern Manitoba community would need to set up a pop-up shop or standalone business in Northern Manitoba and connect with others in other remote communities, as well as elsewhere using the power of the Internet, and also expand their markets worldwide. Shopinabox includes Starlink high-speed satellite internet, a card reader, label printer, scanner, lightbox, scale, and access to an online platform and support, all so creators can reach other local communities and far more. This initiative using technology to empower economic and cultural revitalization is an example of how mutual support of Northern Manitoba communities can work together to enhance the achievement of sustainable development in these communities.

Students immersed themselves in a diverse array of Northern excellence, spanning cultural experience, culinary delights, captivating visual displays, and performances. For example, the 48th Annual Northern Juried Art Show exhibited 145 pieces of art from over 70 artists from across Northern Manitoba. The show demonstrated the power of communities coming together, with local businesses and other community members donating funds, gifts in kind and their time volunteering to make the showcase a success to highlight the incredible talent in Northern Manitoba. Students also met The Pas visual fine artist James M. Dean.

Workshop participants went on a walking tour from the University College of the North along a path where two incredible murals were standing proudly. The organization behind this initiative is The Pas Guest List, and the students met with co-founder Gabrielle Swan, who spoke more about this remarkable Walking Path Mural Project which over the next few years, will beautify the community with 20 murals. For more information, see: Art imitating the meaning of life in The Pas (wcmbnews.com) and A community group hopes to put up 20 murals around The Pas | Radio Noon Manitoba with Janet Stewart | Live Radio | CBC Listen

Gabrielle Swan like many in Northern Manitoba also wears many hats and is the Executive Director of The Pas Arts Council.

The workshop wrapped up with the Arts & Culture Tour at Round The Bend Farm where great food, music and company were shared, and eccentric entrepreneur and artist, Lars Stoltz demonstrated his art form using red hot butter knives.

Northern Artist Lars Stoltz burns designs into wood with a hot butter knife.

Northern Artist Lars Stoltz burns designs into wood with a hot butter knife.

Third-year law students shared their thoughts on the experience:

“Attending the Northern Arts Workshop was a great experience. Not only did I learn more about my colleagues, but I also had the opportunity to learn more about the diverse needs of artists, creatives and businesses in Northern Manitoba. This ranged from local artists in The Pas providing tourism experiences, to chefs and artists from other provinces. One common theme of the conference was the lack of funding, and legal support available to these individuals to protect their work. We had the opportunity to make great connections, ones that I hope will be retained by the next generation of Manitoba Legal Clinic For The Arts and L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic students. Overall, it was amazing to see some of the talent and expertise in Northern Manitoba.” – Austin Sutherland (3L)

“Our trip to the Pas to attend the Northern Arts Workshop was an amazing experience. We got to talk to many different people from Northern Manitoba and elsewhere, meet artists learn about their creations, and what inspires them to continue to create their incredible art. We were pleased to share how our Clinics would be able to provide free legal assistance to help artists in their creative discipline as well as others pursuing businesses in Northern Manitoba. Not many knew about us, but they were pleased to hear about our services. It was an excellent opportunity to learn and share information about the new Arts Clinic as well as our Business Law Clinic while experiencing Northern Manitoba first-hand which enhanced our understanding of needs of those living and working in the North” – Scott Groot (3L)

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the Northern Arts Workshop. The experience was not only enriching but also eye-opening, providing me with invaluable insights into the North’s complexities and the critical issues facing Northern Manitobans today. The knowledge and connections I gained have equipped me to better advocate for and contribute to the thriving communities in northern Manitoba. I am excited to implement the action items discussed and look forward to seeing the positive changes we can collectively bring to the arts in the coming year.” – Stephan Possin (3L)

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