Portage College would like to thank staff, community leaders from Indigenous and surrounding communities, elders and drummers, the media, an overwhelmingly supportive public, our culinary art students, volunteers, and the surviving Indian Group of Seven members, Alex Janvier and Joseph Sanchez, for making the Grand Opening of the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. Permanent Exhibition a resounding success. Each played a vital role, and the event was richer for each individual contribution.
The program began with public tours of the gallery, followed by an official ceremony in the McGrane Theatre. This included traditional hand drum singers, prayers, the Canadian anthem sung in five different languages, and a Q&A with Alex Janvier and Joseph Sanchez, graciously hosted by Michele Lavallee who is the Director, Indigenous Art Centre, Corporate Secretariat Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
Attendees also heard from Portage College and MOAPAA Board Chairs, First Nation, Metis Nation, and Metis Settlement Chiefs and Chairpersons, Mayors, Reeves, Councillors, MLAs Colin Piquette and Dave Hansen, as well as the Honourable Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations Government of Alberta. A special thanks is also extended to Dr. Trent Keough, Portage College President and CEO, for emceeing the event.
The ceremony closed with a ribbon cutting, officially opening the PNIAI Permanent Exhibition. Guests and the media then attended a dinner prepared by Portage College's Culinary Arts students. The food was served across 7 different stations, and each dish deconstructed an Indian Group of Seven work, becoming works of art themselves.
Looking forward, the PNIAI Permanent Exhibition will continue honouring the work and groundbreaking accomplishments of the Indian Group of Seven, as well as a diverse collection of Indigenous artists who use art to tell their story, convey their experiences and perspectives, and inform culture. It will also continue telling the story of Alex Janvier, Carl Ray, Daphne Odjig, Eddy Cobiness, Norval Morrisseau, Jackson Beardy, and Joseph Sanchez, keeping their accomplishments alive and opening doors for all Indigenous artists. Finally, it will serve as a resource for students and the public, to better understand and appreciate Indigenous peoples' cultures, histories, and their contemporary heritage as we journey on the path to truth and reconciliation.