Johnny is happy to announce that his application to receive a CRD Equity Grant was a success! And, many thanks to Ptarmigan Arts on Pender Island for being his Sponsoring Society to enable him to apply!
With this grant, Johnny Aitken will create a short film addressing the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans, and 2 spirit individuals across Turtle Island.
The film will focus on interviewing four white cis-gendered heterosexual men to find out what level of knowledge they may or may not have on this topic. What is their view on why so many from this demographic go missing and are murdered? Johnny projects that the level of their knowledge or understanding will be low. If Johnny is correct, he will explore future opportunities for discussions focused on this aspect of this issue.
Johnny will be interviewing two men from Mayne Island, one from Galiano Island and one from Pender Island(s). Johnny is also going to have an Indigenous woman listen to these interviews and Johnny will videotape her response to what they have to say (or not say). It is Johnny’s hope that this Indigenous woman will be able to help guide future ways to encourage more men to seek knowledge on this topic. Johnny is also going to use archived photographs from his last film, “Washed up” to integrate throughout this short iMovie to add necessary visuals related to the topic.
The completed film will include footage from the interviews with the four men, footage from the interview with the Indigenous woman, and archived images. The target length of this short film will be 10-12 minutes.
February 2019: John Aitken and Marie Weeks
Santa Fe Art Institute Residency
Fumbling Towards Reconciliation
John Aitken and Marie Weeks began collaborating in the summer of 2017, but their lives had always been intertwined due to their connection with the community on Mayne Island in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia (part of the unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish people). They share a passion for social change and exploring ways to shift the many power imbalances that exist in our current society. They both have a deep desire to be active participants in the evolving relationship between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in Canada.
John, (Coast Salish Nation) and Marie (British, Irish, French descent settler) had separately been bringing settlers together to facilitate the education and understanding that is required to create sustainable change. John’s activist work is drawn from a broad skill set including First Nations family services, community outreach, physical acting, dance, script writing, carving, film-making and photography. Marie’s focus has been on group facilitation, relationship building and academic research through the First Nations and Indigenous Studies program at the University of British Columbia.
Marie and John are thrilled to participate in Santa Fe Art Institute’s Truth and Reconciliation Residency 2018-2019, and look forward to learning and growing with the community of artists convening at the residency.
Johnny Aitken is a physical actor, carver, film-maker, photographer, and educator. He identifies as Indigenous with a mixed ancestry of Coast Salish, Haida, and Scottish.
Johnny has a rich background in performing arts, including dance, acting, and film production. He is also a prolific self-taught wood carver, working within Coast Salish traditional styles as well as exploring his own contemporary style.
As a dancer, he has been a member of Stages Dance Company in Victoria BC. He has also danced and performed extensively with renowned contemporary dancer and Victoria native, Lynda Raino.
Johnny’s work in film and video has focused on issues of great social and societal importance. While working with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, he produced and directed a short documentary titled “Breaking the Silence of AIDS.” He also directed a short documentary for the Songhees Nation titled “Diabetes Then and Now.”
All the work I create as an artist has some spiritual connection to who I am as an individual. Art is an external manifestation of my core being and reflects my values as a member of society.
We are all teachers to some degree. Some people are catapulted into positions where their personal life experiences can be utilized to educate others. I believe I am one of those people.
I feel compelled to take action in regards to Indigenous, Metis, and Inuit issues. I need to engage with the community in some way which moves society as a whole towards reconciliation.