Sunday, April 20, 2014

Because He Lives We Can Face Tomorrow

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Because He Lives We Can Face Tomorrowby Cree Artist Ovide Bighetty

From the reForming Relationships art tour website:

Kisemanito Pakitinasuwin - The Creator’s Sacrifice tells this foundational Christian story of Jesus’ death and resurrection - the story that makes all things new. Its vibrant imagery, familiar to some and unfamiliar to others - both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal—invites us to re-imagine how we think about and live out the relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples... Through these works of art, the Spirit of our Creator invites us to live in new ways - in re-formed relationships of peace and friendship. 

A funeral service took place Friday, March 28 for Ovide Joseph Bighetty, a Cree artist whose series of paintings “Kisemanito Pakitinasuwin -- The Creator’s Sacrifice” continues its tour across Canada.

Bighetty, 44, died peacefully on March 20 at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. His wife, Linda, and other members of his family were at his side.

The funeral service was held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pukatawagan, Manitoba.

Bighetty’s connection to the Christian Reformed Church started in 1994 when he visited the CRC’s Indian Metis Christian Fellowship (IMCF) in Regina, Saskatchewan.

He came into the ministry centre requesting assistance for a resume to accompany his application to teach art at a local elementary school, says Bert Adema, executive director of IMCF.

This began a long-standing relationship in which, says Adema, “Ovide and then Linda and then their children interacted with staff and community members at IMCF, creating memories for years to come.”

Also, he says, members of the IMCF staff  “were blessed with the opportunity to purchase good art for themselves and the ministry. Ovide donated pieces to the ministry for fundraising calendars.”

In 2000, Bighetty created a mural for the north wall of the ministry that was dedicated on National Aboriginal Day, held every year to recognize and celebrate the contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Metis people of Canada.

In late 2001, says Adema, the IMCF Council commissioned Bigghety to create artwork depicting the visions of First Nations elders, combining Aboriginal symbolism with biblical sources.

During the following months, he consulted with Pukatawagan elders before completing 17 images telling the story of “Kisemanito Pakitinasuwin -- The Creator’s Sacrifice” in his Woodland Cree style.

Painted in acrylic on canvas and framed  in cedar, these paintings depict the Easter story in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Besides exhibitions at Christian Reformed churches, the tour stopped last year during Holy Week at St. Joseph Catholic Church in downtown Ottawa.

It also has been shown at Kings and Redeemer colleges, at Reformed Church in America congregations, at a community center in Sarnia, Ontario and to delegates and others attending the CRC’s Synod 2012 in Ancaster.

A reflection on his Bighetty’s life is posted on the website of the Hemauer Funeral Home in The Pas, Manitoba.

Among other things, it says: “His family was very important to him and he loved spending time with them. He enjoyed telling them stories or simply just watching movies. ‘I'd walk around the world for my family,’ he’d say’.”

He was originally from Pukatawagan First Nation (`Fishing Place’ in Cree) on the Canadian Shield of Northern Manitoba.

He worked in logging and commercial fishing but “art and painting have always been the center of his being,” says the reflection.

-Chris Meehan, CRC Communications

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