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The Role of Indigenous Artists and the Development of an Indigenous Pedagogy for Modern Artistic Expression

February 9, 20229 February 2022

Indigenous arts: Resources for imagining, thinking, and working toward decolonization

Primary Colours / Couleurs primaires


Joahnna Berti

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This blog post explores two main questions: “the role of Indigenous artists in community and how this role impacts training”. The report highlights how the historical development of Indigenous arts and arts learning provides the foundation of current arts learning initiatives.

The post offers a brief history of Indigenous artists and arts institutions, especially related to arts learning. According to the author, the history exhibits “a continuum of sustainability that enables intergenerational transmission of cultural knowledge and utilizes the strength of the established artists as a platform for the emerging ones to come”.

An important conclusion of the post is that Indigenous values, languages and lifeways must anchor an Indigenous arts learning curriculum: “It is the work of the professional artists and their mentorship, that populate our training programs and supports the emergence of new Indigenous voices across Canada. Their stability and availability [are] critical to high quality innovative and expressive new works that will inform training curriculums and programs across the country.”

The post outlines important challenges in Indigenous arts learning, both currently and historically: “while most Canadian art institutions were acknowledged and established through the establishment of National and Provincial Arts Councils throughout the sixties, Indigenous art institutions had to advocate and lobby to begin in the seventies when none of the arts establishment had seen them coming or made space for them, in terms of budgets and other practical allocations”. Further, “mainstream Canada has struggled to support a foundation and direction” of Indigenous arts, sometimes interrupting or interfering by “taking the lead” rather than truly collaborating.

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