Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre

Whitehorse, Yukon

Experience Our Culture

Current Exhibit: Ancestral Highways

From June to September 2021, the Shakaat Artist-in-Residence program hosted eleven artists at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. The program offers a way to promote our living cultures and support artists to fulfill their creative callings. Artists worked in the Culture Cabins and the Elder’s Lounge for three-week sessions to provide interactive visitor programming, deliver public workshops, and create a range of multimedia arts. Artists worked alongside one another on the banks of the river to experience a sense of community that has been prevalent in our nations for thousands of years.

Ancestral Highways is a collection of artworks that showcases the diverse and introspective approaches each artist has to the water. Access to moving water has been an integral part of life since time immemorial. For Indigenous Peoples, the water continues to be our way of life. It provides us with sustenance, medicines, stories, and modes of travel. We see the world as a series of interconnected relationships. This is evident in the ways that the Shakaat artists have pulled inspiration from the waterways which run through the land like blood vessels; giving life and meaning through connection. The artists used photography, beadwork, stained glass, and tattooing to share their personal connections with the lifeblood of our cultures; the water.

Connection to the water can be seen through relationships with food, trapping, kinship ties and travel via the vast network of tributaries. The waterways act as gathering places for ancestral seasonal camps, potlatches, and many more activities. This exhibit draws on this idea and acts as a gathering space along the river to celebrate our connection to ancestral waterways.

Just as the water of the river is always renewed, our culture is flowing, evolving, and shaping us. We take inspiration from this to empower Indigenous communities through a celebration of our art and cultural heritage.

Hand Games Demonstration during the 2017 National Aboriginal Day Celebrations.