Until October 3, the Alliance Française de Toronto presents Celebrating the Call of the Ancients for inner Peace, a dreamlike incursion into Métis culture and imagination through painting. The exhibition brings together paintings by Diane Montreuil, artist and director of education at the Council of the First Métis People of Canada. As is the case for many artists with Aboriginal roots, her approach draws on her discovery of her origins and a desire for awareness.
“When I was young, I was very confused because I was trying to understand what ‘side’ belong to,” says Ms. Montreuil. Born in Montreal, trained interior designer training, she spends the first years of her life without seeking too much to claim this unknown heritage. It was finally around the age of her mid40’s in Ohio that she made the leap into traditional Native teachings with Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha, a Cherokee Medicine Elder. Since then, she has engaged in a thousand ways to continue her education, but also and above all to share her knowledge.
For Ms. Montreuil art & crafts are long-time passions, it is natural for her to turn to expressing her attachment to Métis culture. In Canada, Métis realities are mostly associated, with the Prairies, for essentially historical reasons. It is only recently that the eastern Métis, to whom Diane Montreuil belongs, have begun to make themselves known and to claim. Although some rites and symbols are common to the majority of First Nations, others are more specific to certain peoples. The artist, is inspired by Algonquin traditions.
A theme especially dear to her ‘Grandmothers’. Diane lovingly refers to Parisha Taylor as “Grandmother”.
In general, it is women who ensure the perpetuation of customs and the preservation of a certain state of mind. First Nations see women as the guardians of life. Unfortunately, they also suffer a lot from socio-economic situation that exists in many reserves. These are all subjects that inspired Ms. Montreuil ’s paintings: intergenerational transmission of Ancestral knowledge among women, the tragedy of murdered or missing women, spiritual symbols of a feminine nature, etc. Regardless of the Nation from which they come, the majority of Aboriginal and Métis people will recognize these familiar themes. The others will not be left behind, as Diane Montreuil makes sure that these realities are understood by everyone. “It’s a way to give back to the community” says the Artist.
Sundance, Turtle Island, Corn celebration, etc: these stories and traditions are honored in the most beautiful way, synthetized by colors more shimmering. “For me, it’s an inner journey,” explains Diane Montreuil. For others, this exhibition is a wonderful introduction to the Metis world.