Jennifer Leason

Blueberry Patch

“Nóngom kici-kakinahomaté wigamigong izáhin pigo-imá kitá-anokísanágan ci anokíhin kíspin izásiwan kakinahomatéwigamigong.”
“Post Secondary Education is important today, because you can’t get a job without education.”
MARY STRONGQUILL – KEESEEKOOSE FIRST NATION

Meenunyaaka

In 2012, I embarked on a journey to learn Saulteaux- Anishinaabemowen and to revitalize the language for myself, our generation, our children and for genrations to come. The artwork are the illustrations for our book titled “Meenunyaaka” which translates to “Blueberry Patch”.

It was first told in Anishinabemowen and was later transcribed and translated into English. It is my Uncle Norman Chartrand’s childhood memory of the community packing up their horses and heading East of Duck Bay to pick blueberries for the month of July.

It was through Uncle Norman’s story that I was able to reconnected with my mother, my grandmother, my granparents, great grandparents and the ancestors who continue to guide me on my journey. I truly believe they spoke to me through “spirit paint” (Norval Moriseau) and at times I felt their presence as they peered over my shoulder to tell which coloured they loved the most.

This project has been about intergenerational healing, transforming my emotions into art, and seeing/feeling the love and beauty of each day. The art is a celebration of the ancestors; identity; belief and belonging; colour and connection; self determination and definition; family and friendship; forgiveness and the future; land and language; persistence and patience; rest and reconciliation; sorrow and surrender; truth and time.

Artist's Statements

Grass by Moonlight
9″ x 12″
Acrylic on Paper
Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Dancing Fire” is a painting from Meenunyaaka and is a representation of bannock being cooked on the hot coals with fresh, clear water from the nearby stream. In the book, Norman Chartrand recounts his childhood memories of blueberry picking and the delicious taste of the blueberries with bannock from the fire. He recounts how he felt safe, loved and protected when he would sit under the stars with his brothers by the fire. One of my own favorite memories is sitting by the fire, under the stars and telling stories with my family and friends. The dancing flames represent stories that spark and fuel our imagination, creativity and connect us to people and places.

Grass by Moonlight
9″ x 12″
Acrylic on Paper
Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Grass by Moonlight” is a painting from Meenunyaaka and is a depiction of the community camp in the grassy fields. The grass was laid down and used as padding to sleep on. Imagine the smell of fresh cut grass as you lay down to sleep… and the sway of the field in the summer breeze and the twinkle of the moonlight as it reflects off each blade. Let grandmother moon restore you by night and the grass provide you comfort as the stars and ancestors bring sweet dreams.

Family Tree
9″ x 12″
Acrylic on Paper
Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Family Tree” represents our roots and connection to family, community and place. The turquoise bottom represents flowing water and the navy represents mother Earth. The hummingbirds represent family and the seven branches represent the seven Anishinaabek teachings (love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth) and our responsibility to the seven generations before and after us.


Meenunyaaka: Blueberry Patch
9″ x 12″
Acrylic on Paper
Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Meenunyaaka: Blueberry Patch” is a painting that reflects the coming together of families and communities throughout the generations to pick blueberries. This painting was inspired by Jennifer’s uncle Norman Chartrand and his childhood memory of blueberry picking east of Camperville and Duck Bay, Manitoba. The bright yellow background represents the summer sunshine, warmth and eastern journey.

Zhiishiibi-Zhiibiing: Duck River
9″ x 12″
Acrylic on Paper
Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Zhiishiibi-Zhiibiing: Duck River” is a painting of the shores of Lake Pittowinipik (Winnipegosis), which was a traditional fall gathering place with abundant fish and game. Around 1964, Manitoba Hydro started operation of the Grand Rapids Generating Station to provide power to the people of Manitoba. Unfortunately, Manitoba Hydro’s project caused and continues to cause alterations to the natural environment, which ultimately negatively impacted local trappers. This painting is dedicated to my family and ancestors who fished and trapped on these shores. Che miigwetch to the land, water, air, fish and game that fed and sustained our families and culture. Northern pike/jackfish have been found to be at least 8000 years old, and the two jackfish in the painting represent a deep and ancient connection to land, water and place, despite disruption.

Keesis: Daylight 9″ x 12″ Acrylic on Paper Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Keesis: Daylight” is a painting that celebrates sunrise, waking up to the light, and new beginnings. The yellow represents the summer sunshine, warmth and eastern journeys. The layers of the sunrise represent a deeper awakening and increased consciousness. The seven blueberry branches represent the seven Anishinaabek teachings (love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth) and our responsibility to the next seven generations.

Shoes on the Tree
9″ x 12″
Acrylic on Paper
Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Shoes on the Tree” is a painting from Mennunyaaka and is a recount of Norman Chartrand’s memory of passing a place called my-tic-ano-chi-go-ki-ish-igit, which means “tree that grows weird.” There was a big Jack pine that looked like four trees grown into one. Several pairs of shoes were nailed to its trunk!

Kee-kee-shop-ne-wanish-ka-mim ke-poss-tass-o-mim ota-bana-kook me-shee-go-chee-ke- wa-yong kee-do-kosh e-me-mim-ima (my-tic-ano-chi-go-ki-ishi-git) kee-nitch-ja-ya-cee-bees ki-chi-asis-e-go-ma-mun-chee ta-bish-ko-nee-wim-my-ticok-awa-pess-sick-mytic am-isi-make-ka-ta-a-kee-pe-mosh-e-wat o-kee-sag-ana-wa wat-o-muck-kisi-yom-ima-mitic-gong

Seeds of Life
9″ x 12″
Acrylic on Paper
Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Seeds of Life” is a painting of blueberries and represents the seeds of the berries, as well as the seeds of the children to be. It represents the seeds of creation and the millions of oocytes (immature eggs) within the ovaries that a baby girl is born with. The pink represents the entry into puberty and the beginning of menstruation. This painting is dedicated to all the women; the seed carriers who carry the next seven generations within them. This painting is a celebration of fertility and everlasting love, hope and life.

Socks the Horse and Dick the Mule
9″ x 12″
Acrylic on Paper
Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Socks the Horse and Dick the Mule” is a painting from Meenunyakka: Blueberry Patch.

A-nee-kook gee-mim-jim-ee ma-ota-pan-ac-kong kee-kosh-kay-shim-miss-see-yay pee-yob-bibk-shee-go assin-eek-ka-pen-na-ka-kee-imit-ta-kook neesh mista-tim-nook pess-sick Dick kee-is-im-nee-kas-shoo agita mista-tim agita-ka-kon-eta-egat mista-tim-oose Dick mish-ga- ti-sit me-kai-ishi-ma mut-ta-pit ka-wim-wee-ko-gim-ma-see-eni ota-pan-na-koom-awa mista-tim waba-sh-ki-a-zee gan-num-ka pee-sa-ka-wat o-tee-ke-wa-gis-ka-mee ta-koo-os- kul-tick ween-okima-shee-go Dick keg-a-gashee

Fish for Life
9″ x 12″
Acrylic on Paper
Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Fish for Life” is a painting of the shores of Lake Pittowinipik (Winnipegosis). Che miigwetch to the land, water, air, fish and game that fed and sustained our families and culture. Northern pike/jackfish have been found to be at least 8000 years old, and the four jackfish in the painting represent a deep and ancient connection to land, water and place.

Night Swimming
9″ x 12″
Acrylic on Paper
Painted by: Jennifer Leason ©2018

Night Swimming” is a painting of the shores of Lake Pittowinipik (Winnipegosis). Northern pike/jackfish have been found to be at least 8000 years old, and the jackfish in the painting represent a deep and ancient connection to land, water and place. As a mysterious underwater creature swimming in the night, it represents the persistence and perseverance of our peoples and cultures who continue to survive and thrive, despite the darkness of the night.

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