Nocturne: Michelle Sylliboy - Elmi'knik ilkwija'lnoqtew ika'taqniktuk

Date Time: 
Monday, 12 October 2020 to Saturday, 17 October 2020

Location: Ondaatje Courtyard

Michelle Sylliboy is a L'nu/Mi'kmaq, Two-Spirit Pouin artist, poet, storyteller and educator who is dedicated to L'nuk cultural revitalisation, particularly through the komqwejwi'kasikl, or Mi’kmaq hieroglyphs, in her community-engaged art. The hieroglyphs are part of a complex communication system created and sustained by L’nuk long before colonization. Komqwejwi'kasikl, translated roughly to suckerfish writings – referring to the paths suckerfish leave on the river bottom as they move – is a symbolic language that was used by L’nuk for inscribing maps and tribal records — each character representing a description that is now translated through the oral and written (phonetic) aspects of the language.

Through poetry, photography, performance, sculpture and pedagogy, the heart of Michelle’s work is to learn, share and build relationships as she reclaims and expresses L’nuk way of life through tracing the lines and messages of the culture in the land and language.

In her book Kiskajeyi-I AM READY, Michelle created a komqwejwi'kasikl poem that connects to the late Mi’kmaq artist Mike MacDonald’s piece, Touched By The Tears of a Butterfly. Elmi'knik ilkwija'lnoqtew ika'taqniktuk, meaning “In the future, who will ease your heart in the garden?” creates a space for viewers to reflect on the nurturing and healing of their own heart so we can move forward in relation as co-stewards of this land.

Michelle’s work will be on view in the Ondaatje Courtyard at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia until October 30.

About the Artist

Credit Michelle SylliboyMichelle Sylliboy Award winning author and Interdisciplinary artist Michelle Sylliboy (Mi’kmaq/L’nu) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised on her traditional L'nuk territory in We'koqmaq, Cape Breton. While living on the traditional, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, Sylliboy completed a BFA at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and a Masters in Education from Simon Fraser University. She is currently a PhD candidate in Simon Fraser University’s Philosophy of Education program, where she is working to reclaim her original written komqwej’wikasikl language. Her collection of photography and L’nuk hieroglyphic poetry, Kiskajeyi—I Am Ready, was published by Rebel Mountain Press in 2019.