Meghan Benoit

Surrey artist wins top prize in national contest

Megan Benoit of Cloverdale is honoured at the Aboriginal Arts and Stories contest gala, held this week in Ontario

A Cloverdale artist has won first prize in a national art and writing competition for aboriginal youth.

Megan Benoit’s painting, Medicinal Healing, which draws on her Metis/Cree heritage and touches on themes of turmoil, pain and reconciliation, placed first in the junior arts category (ages 14 to 18) at the Aboriginal Arts and Stories contest.

The Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student, 17, was part of a strong showing by British Columbia at the national awards, held June 15 at the Art Gallery of Ontario, where indigenous leaders, youth, authors, artists and others gathered to honour the contest winners.

Surrey’s Justice Jacinto, 18, of Sagkeeng First Nation, won honorable mention for her painting, ‘little yellow house.’

The event, hosted by composer John  Kim Bell, included attendees such as Drew Hayden Taylor, Lee Maracle, Brian Maracle and Maxine Noel. It also featured an exhibition of winning work, along with a performance by Mino Ode Kwewak N’Gamowak, the Good Hearted Women Singers.

“The voices of young indigenous peoples bring us messages that relate to both yesterday and tomorrow,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, president and CEO of Historica Canada. “Those messages are crucial to the process of reconciliation.”

Winners were chosen from among 650 submissions from across the country. As a first place junior winner, Benoit, 17, will be honoured at the Governor General’s History Awards, set for Ottawa in October.

She will also receive a $2,000 cash prize, and the opportunity to have her artwork exhibited.

Benoit, Métis/Cree, says as a student at Lord Tweedsmuir, and resident of Cloverdale, she has been able to explore and honour her aboriginal ancestry through visits to places like Sechelt – where she was inspired by artwork – and Quebec, where she gained a greater understanding of cultural practices.

She says she finds glee in discovering facts about her family’s history and hopes to one day experience more of her distant culture – and see it showcased in a light and respect worthy of its beauty.

Her award winning work, Medicinal Healing [pictured], a painting done in acrylic and ink on canvas, is an abstract interpretation of the Medicine Wheel, which represents four main concepts: physicality, emotionalism, mentality and spirituality.

“While one cannot erase the turmoil and pain that the aboriginal people have experienced and still experience to this day, one can attempt to sew it back together through reconciliation,” her artist’s statement reads. “These core concepts  [of the medicine wheel] have been tarnished, and they will never be the same as before. But one can hope that eventually it will heal, leaving only a scar, instead of the gaping gash left within the culture.”

Aboriginal Arts and Stories is the largest art and creative writing competition in Canada for aboriginal youth.

The contest invites First Nations, Metis, and Inuit artists aged 9 to 29 to interpret an aspect of their culture and heritage through literary and visual arts.

A jury of aboriginal authors, artists, and community leaders selects the winning submissions.

The awards are presented by Enbridge Inc., along with sponsors Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, TD Bank, Canada’s History and Aboriginal LInk.

Historica Canada is a national organization dedicated to enhancing awareness of Canada’s history and citizenship.

Just Posted

Surrey district cop station closed by sewer backup

People seeking criminal records checks and other services can get help at any of the other stations

SURREY EVENTS GUIDE for Sept. 19 and beyond

Concerts, festivals, plays and more in our weekly calendar

Giant-Hawk name swap for Major Midget League hockey teams

League leaders last year, Valley West squad starts season on the road this weekend

ELECTION QUESTIONS: How do candidates form their opinions on transit in Surrey?

Who is on the right side of Surrey’s transit debate? That’s for voters to decide come Oct. 20.

Surrey wants BNSF to slow Crescent trains

Mayor Linda Hepner said ‘it’s the least we can do’

64 cats seized from ‘bad situation’ now in BC SPCA care

The surrender is part of an ongoing animal cruelty investigation with BC SPCA Special Constable

B.C. hockey product eyes shot at Olympic spot with China

Fletcher is one of 24 who travelled to Shenzhen, China for the first official Olympic dev camp.

Are you feeling lazy? That’s OK – it’s just science

UBC study shows that humans are hardwired to prefer being sloth-like

LETTER: Who do we blame for the tragedy of Marrisa Shen’s death?

The B.C. girl was killed in a Burnaby park last July

Competition tribunal to hear B.C.-based case on airline food starting in October

The competition commissioner argued Vancouver airport authority had exploited its market position

Trudeau says Canada wants to see ‘movement’ before signing revised NAFTA deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is back in Washington in search of a way to bridge divide

Seek compromise with U.S. on cannabis at border, lawyers urge Ottawa

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency sent tremors through Canada’s burgeoning cannabis sector

Young people need us to act on climate change, McKenna tells G7 ministers

Catherine McKenna led off the three-day Halifax gathering Wednesday

UPDATE: Man arrested in shooting on Abbotsford street near Aldergrove

Nobody injured in shooting, which is not believed to be related to gang conflicts

Most Read