Proceeds from Treaty artwork support charities
- Andrea Ledding | December 18, 2018
Ernie Scoles is known for his generosity in the community, and one of his latest collaborations is creating framed Treaty artwork with collaborator Debbie Thomas. Both of them are donating the proceeds towards charities. Kohkoms and Moshums Against Drugs and Alcohol (KAMADA) was founded by the late Roy Peekeekoot from Ahtahkakoop, and Elder Mary Rose Naytowhow, who is legally blind.
“The drugs issue is a big issue now, especially with the legalization of cannabis,” said Thomas. “Youth are watching the television and believe that the fast lane they see is exactly what happens here, but when they come here, they have a hard time finding jobs — it’s not as easy as they think it is — and a lot of them resort to drugs. The bar scenes and the fast life...some will get involved in gangs.”
So, Mary Rose and she discussed revisiting the medicine chest, because prescription drugs can be abused, and people get into addictions that way, as well as introduction from peer pressure.
“These drugs that are out there are really deadly, they’re not like they used to be twenty years ago. You can’t just experiment and expect to get off of them. Once you take it, you’re always going to look for it,” said Thomas, adding that weed legalization is making it so that youth are buying it online which can lead to overdoses and creating serious addictions. “You don’t know what’s in those online drugs, they’re mixed with fentanyl, they’re mixed with other things that are legal [but addictive].”
She added kids might say something is tylenol or antibiotics but it can be laced with cocaine or other products. KAMADA is getting Elders to speak to other Elders as well as youth, dealing with drug and alcohol issues, and creating communities to better accommodate youth and educate towards rebuilding communities, instead of prescribing to mainstream job demands which aren’t always the answer.
“Kids going out of their communities just makes them get lost in the system. Elders provide a lot of traditional life skills just through their experiences and stories from generation to generation, which has been impacted by the Residential Schools and 60s Scoop,” said Thomas. “Without an identity it’s really hard for the kids to have a strong pride of who they are, where they came from because it’s hard for them to talk to people more supportive of what they want to do.”
Dysfunction makes it difficult, and we are in a crisis that’s not being approached where the kids get involved, she explained. “And they’re the ones that are going to be involved tomorrow,” said Thomas. “I do a lot of craftwork, that’s how I deal with stress...it’s in English and Cree because it’s important to our youth, our communities, and even understanding Treaty and what it is.”
She added people need to understand the cultural and contemporary aspects of Treaty, so the beaded Eagle is the protector, the medium between us and the upper life; the beaded rivers, grass, trees, and sun are represented as well, because they are part of the wording of the treaties.
“We do it for a good cause, it’s both important to us, Debbie’s KAMADA and mine, Friends of the Park, to bring Indigenous youth out there through different programs workshops, film festivals, different aspects of fundraising we do. This is one of them,” said Scoles, who is known for his few words combined with endless generosity in donating framing and artwork to good causes and supporting other artists in all genres, while running many charitable projects himself.