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Indigenizing Art Therapy at CATA Conference

The 2021 Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) conference begins this Friday, November 12th. This year's virtual conference will explore the theme of Emergence: Cultivating Hope, Creating Change.

We encourage you to attend a number of sessions highlighting the work of our WHEAT Indigenized Program Faculty including Indigenized Program Lead, Dr. Fyre Jean Graveline; Jean Tait, DKATI, RCAT, Indigenous Community Outreach and Practicum Coordinator; as well as Jen Vivan MA, re.Search Touchstone. We encourage each of you to join us in deepening understanding of the context, need, process, trajectory, and ways to support and honour Indigenous ways of knowing through the Indigenizing of Art Therapy in Canada. We are grateful for the effort, knowledge, and leadership of this team in this process.

Please be sure to attend the following sessions:

Jean Tait, DKATI, RCAT will be providing the opening prayer at 11 am CST on Friday, November 12th.

Dr. Fyre Jean Graveline's keynote address, Emergence Beyond our Colonial Shadow: When I Heard the Horrific News will take place 11:30 - 1 pm CST on Friday, November 12th.

Emergence Beyond our Colonial Shadow: When I Heard the Horrific News

"In order to Emerge Beyond Our Colonial Shadow, which is currently deeply darkening all of our capacity to relate in respectful and reciprocal ways within our shared communities, we must begin, as all healing does, by acknowledging our Pain. Grief, Outrage, Shame and Blame continuously is resurfacing with recent and continuing horrific news of now well over a thousand children found buried at sites of what once were Residential Schools in Canada, including 215 at Kamloops which made major headlines in May of 2021. To heal, we simultaneously need to honor both our trauma and our strength as Survivors and Descendants and continue to bring much needed attention to an ongoing legacy of Colonization, including Indian Residential School Era, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, and Sixties Scoop. As Art Therapists, Artists, Healers, Activists, as HeARTivists, we need to make visible continuing ripple effects into our shared worlds today, and commit to do our part in ongoing reconcileActions to bring awareness to and make change in all of our circles of influence. In June of 2021, we launched Memorial Gallery, with an Eco-Art Image, created with Food Paints, and an accompanying Poetic Inquiry. i will share my process and encourage all of us to create and contribute Response Art for our Gallery. We encourage you to send in heARTfelt creations to "

Transforming our Shared World, by Dr. Fyre Jean Graveline

Fyre, Jean, and Jen will also be leading the Emergence Beyond our Colonial Shadow: Indigenizing Art Therapy session on Sunday, November 21st at 11:30 - 12:30 pm CST, as well as Emergence Beyond Our Colonial Shadow: Two Circles Working Relationally session on Sunday, November 28th at 12:45 - 3:15 pm CST. Emergence Beyond our Colonial Shadow: Indigenizing Art Therapy "We are engaging in an ongoing journey of Indigenizing Art Therapy, a process that necessarily will continue to be both led by and in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and Communities. As we evolve, we are more deeply understanding that changes are required in all ways in which we think about, and do, Art Therapy, or as we reframe it, Healing Arts, or HeARTs. These changes respond to our practices, our teaching content and methods, our practice theory, our research, and current CATA standards that govern our practice. Given there has been no specific focus on Indigeneity in our past and current practice of theorizing, practice standards and educational guidelines for Art Therapy schools in Canada, there are several immediate and critical issues to be addressed. A shift is needed towards more decolonizing and Indigenizing perspectives in practice, education, and research regarding Art Therapy in Canada. We have identified four areas of exploration as crucial: Embracing Cultural Knowledge; Recognizing Collective Trauma; Honoring Indigenous Ethics; and Restoring Respectful and Reciprocal Relationality. A deepening and broadening of Art Therapy for emergence beyond our colonial shadow will require all of us to engage in Indigenizing our current knowledges and practices as Art Therapists, as educators, as researchers, and as a profession. We invite you to join us on this Journey. We will be hosting a follow-up Circles for those interested post-conference."

Emergence Beyond our Colonial Shadow: Two Circles Working Relationally "It is imperative that we find courageous ways to address both historical and current Indigenous issues like recent horrific news regarding unmarked burials on sites of what once were Residential Schools. Our painful history has highlighted that there needs to be an attending to all of our intergenerational and collective trauma produced and reoccurring throughout colonization. This requires an honoring and revitalizing of Indigenous cultural knowledges and resiliencies. While Indigenization of Art Therapy necessitates being led by, and in collaboration with, Indigenous art therapists and communities, there is also a strong role for Allies that needs to be established and clarified. This workshop will explore roles of both an Indigenous Circle of Art Therapists as well as a separate and relational Circle of Allies, including time for Two Circles to break out and begin to dialogue: how do we view our roles—respectfully and reciprocally collaborating, working and playing, journeying together towards honoring Indigenous ways of knowing and healing in Art Therapy?"

Our Indigenized Art Therapy Program leaders are looking to the CATA board to acknowledge, and hopefully adopt, their recommendations to Honor Indigenous Knowledges and Accept Responsibility for CATA’s role in Reconciliation. You can read their Calls for CATA below.

Calls for CATA
Download PDF • 298KB

You may register for the CATA Conference online at


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