This week I'm embarking on a new Artist in the Classroom project called Taan's Moons. Taan means bear in Haida language.
Inspiration for the project
In the book ‘Tluuwaay ‘Waadluxan’, Joanne Yovanovich describes the traditional Haida names and descriptions of each month of the year. The months were marked by seasons and food gathering times and carry names like Taa Halxa Kuu.ngaay - food gathering month, May, Ts’uu K’al WiiGuuxaay Kuu.ngaay - cedar bark weaving month, September and Taan ChaaGan K’aadii Kuu.ngaay - bear hibernate month, November.
Alison Gear, a local writer and early learning coordinator, was inspired by these descriptions and wrote a poem called Taan's Moons, describing twelve full moons through the eyes of a bear. The poem brings to life the activities that happen each month on Haida Gwaii, traditionally and currently.
Support for the project
Alison invited me to embark on a creative journey with her to find a way to illustrate her poem through felt creations with the help of the children of Haida Gwaii. We brainstormed and came up with a plan to work with the Kindergarten classes of the six elementary schools on Haida Gwaii this Fall. We received support from Literacy Haida Gwaii and School District 50 and applied for a grant from ArtStarts in Schools.
Earlier this month Joanne Yovanovich, Principal of Aboriginal Education, Beng Favreau, Executive Director of Literacy Haida Gwaii, Tawni Davidson, Early Learning Coordinator and myself joined Alison for a Sharing Circle. This meeting was held to acknowledge that we're working with traditional knowledge and to become grounded in an understanding of what we're doing and why. We shared our hopes, goals and visions for the project, we talked about the role of elders and traditional knowledge holders within the project, and brainstormed about activities in the classrooms.
This week Alison, Tawni and I will be visiting each school for a brief introduction of the project, to meet the teachers and children and to engage them in their first creative explorations of the Taan's Moons story.