Colouring It Forward - Discover Blackfoot Nation Art and Wisdom is more than a colouring book.
As an artist, I have always been drawn to the beautiful imagery and spirituality of Aboriginal art. As an Algonquin Metis, over time I’ve wanted to learn more about my roots. I’ve been searching for a way to both explore more of the wisdom Indigenous people offer and to offer something in return. They have a great deal of ancestral wisdom and I believe we can learn to live in betterharmony with nature and with each other if we open our hearts and minds to understanding andappreciating this knowledge. Indigenous people believe that we are all connected – people, animals, rocks, the earth, water and since we are all related, we should respect one another.
My search for a way to connect with my people and to give back turned into the Colouring It Forward project. Colouring It Forward -- Discover Blackfoot Nation Art and Wisdom is the first in a series of six books that will be published in the near future. Each book will be focused on a different First Nation and its artists and teachings.
For this first book in the series, I’ve had the privilege of working with Blackfoot Elder Camille Pablo Russell to gather Blackfoot traditional wisdom and with the incredibly talented Blackfoot First Nation artists Kalum Teke Dan and Ryan Jason Allen Willert, all of whom have been very generous and giving of their time.
To honour the gifts I have received through this project, a portion of the proceeds of sales will go to the contributing artists and to any elders sharing their wisdom. A further portion of the proceed will be invested in projects identified, selected and carried out in collaboration with First Nations people. These projects will create opportunities for employment, improve small businesses or lead to higher education.
Thank you - Meegwetch
About the Author
Along the way, I've travelled extensively and for several years both volunteered and working as an engineer overseas on projects to improve water and sanitation systems for small cities and mountain villages. As someone who has always been interested in other cultures, I've been lucky enough to work on projects in Colombia, Peru, China, and Rwanda.
I'm very proud of the work I did while with the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST). When I first joined the company, we were four people working out of the President's home. My job was to figure out how to disseminate information on household water treatment and build capacity sustainably in Latin America and the Caribbean. After many attempts, I found what worked and what didn't.
We evolved the model to a "train the trainers" model so that by the time I left, I was able to verify I had helped 500,000 people get better water by empowering local NGOs to do the work themselves. That number has grown exponentially because of the "Train the trainer" approach we took.
During my time at CAWST, I became aware of the poor quality of water on some First Nations reserves. I was unable to do anything about it because of the political situation and a lack of connections. From that knowledge and desire to help, plus the yearning to learn more about my roots, the idea for this project was born.
And so, out of all of this, the Colouring It Forward project began to grow. Along with my appreciation and love for the artists' work as an artist myself, the colouring book series has given me a chance to learn more about First Nations people, culture and wisdom. I also have the opportunity to 'colour it forward' with these books by giving a percentage of the proceeds from the books to the artist and the First Nations Projects that will be further defined in collaboration with the communities through my website www.colouringitforward.com.
Camille Pablo Russell was born on the Blood Reserve in Southern Alberta. His Indian name is Shooting in the Air, and he goes by the name Pablo. He grew up being very close to his grandparents. It was through them he learned a lot about his roots and traditions.
Over the past 20 years, he has lectured in Europe on Mental Health, Coaching, Traditional Herbs and Leadership Management. His workshops are based on the principle of "Follow the Buffalo". For First Nations people, the buffalo represents the qualities of perseverance, facing the storms of life and walking into them.
Pablo also works in Calgary, Alberta at the Elbow River Healing Lodge as a spiritual counsellor.
Kalum Teke Dan is a Blackfoot artist from Calgary who originates from the Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta. He was first inspired to create art by his grandparents, who were known internationally for their bead work and traditional regalia.
Mostly self-taught and working in both oil and watercolour, Kalum has become known for his strong portraiture and his stunning wildlife depictions.His portraits are based on real life people--those who portray the strength and the pride of the People as a whole. He captures the spirit of the animals he paints on canvas. His work is in the personal collection of several Canadian Premiers, international leaders and many of Canada's leading corporations. His work can be found in galleries across Canada and the United States.
Kalum has also been commissioned to paint several murals of significant size by organizations in both Calgary and Edmonton.
Table of ContentsIntroduction - Letter from Diana Frost
Blackfoot First Nation Elder, Camille Pablo Russell
Blackfoot First Nation Artist, Kalum Teke Dan
Blackfoot First Nation Artist, Ryan Jason Allen Willert
Colouring Art by Kalum Teke Dan
People of the Plains
Keep us Well
Chief Shot on Both Sides
Bones of our Past
Colouring Art by Ryan Jason Allen Willert
Walking into the Storm
Strength for Women
Chain of Prayers
Spirit of the Bird
Spirit of the Spider
Spirit of the Turtle
Spirit of the Butterfly
The Voice of our Elders
Thank you to the team