More than 100 people attended the oceanside ceremony and the feast at the CRAG

The sun shone on the closing ceremony of Mu’la, April 29. A beautiful celebration of gratitude and community, the ceremonial fire was led by Indigenous Artist Shawn Decaire. 

Decaire burned  the drum Goliath, which was featured in Mu’la. He made the drum back in 2013 with the help of Jorge Lewis, who has since passed away.

“Traditionally we don’t hang on to things once we are finished with them,” Decaire said. “Because that was a special drum that had ties with Jorge Lewis and myself, I wanted to send it to the spirit world to be with him, as opposed to being stuck on a wall and just thought of as a memory.”

The public was invited to bear witness to the ceremonial fire and the business that was conducted at the feast. Decaire said witnesses are important because in pre-contact times, when history was passed on orally, witnesses at events such as this passed the stories on.

“They were basically our log books through history,” Decaire said.

Photos by Wild Shay Photograpy

Following the fire, which took place at the Campbell River spit, people gathered at the Campbell River Art Gallery for a feast, prepared by Namwayut Catering.

The feast kicked off with some formal business conducted by Decaire. This included a traditional reconciliation ceremony, often conducted after parties have struggled through differences or conflict. This ceremony ensures that those involved move beyond those differences in a good way – something that was important to Decaire.

Following this, he and Sara Lopez Assu, Executive Director of the Campbell River Art Gallery, conducted a blanketing ceremony for members of the CRAG staff. “Some people treat their jobs as a job. These women, they come to work and give of themselves in ways I never thought possible. It was important that we highlight their commitment to the work we do, and the values we uphold. Especially when we look at their efforts with the Art Hive, and the love they show towards the most vulnerable in our community,” shared Lopez Assu. Overseen by Hereditary Chief Jake Smith, Decaire concluded the protocol by honouring Lopez Assu for her steadfast leadership and with a naming ceremony for some of his family members.

Mu’la showed in the CRAG’s satellite gallery January 28-April 29, 2023. The work explored gratitude and featured artists Shawn Decaire, Charles Jules, ‘Guy’ John Sharkey, and Jennifer Joseph. The show was curated by Nadine Bariteau.

“What I learned is that all together we are strong,” said Bariteau. “It’s the only way we can grow and succeed. I’m grateful to have learned this and found a group of humans that wanted to do the same.”

The work was created at the CRAG’s Art Hive, a weekly open studio that provides peers with lived or living experience with homelessness and substance use a safe space in which to practice art.