Marianne Nicolson’s training encompasses both traditional Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw forms and culture and Western European based art practice. She has completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (1996), a Masters in Fine Arts (1999), a Masters in Linguistics and Anthropology (2005) and a PhD in Linguistics, Anthropology and Art History (2013) at the University of Victoria. She has exhibited her artwork locally, nationally and internationally as a media artist, painter, photographer and installation artist, has written and published numerous essays and articles, and has participated in multiple speaking engagements. Her practice engages with issues of Aboriginal histories and politics arising from a passionate involvement in cultural revitalization and sustainability.
About “K’ak’akwama -The Fireweed”
Created by Marianne Nicolson, with animation support by Kirk Schwartz
In June of 1914 the Hereditary Chiefs of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations gathered in Alert Bay to meet with the Commissioners of the McKenna-McBride Land Commission. This commission had been set up by representatives of the Federal and Provincial Government to address the Indian Land question through the allocation of reserves. During this process the chiefs were told that if they identified their lands these lands would be protected for them from settlement as reserves. Ultimately, the final reserve allocations were miniscule and the majority of requests were denied. During the process the commission denied that any notion of Aboriginal Title existed and refused to discuss it.
The animation style is rendered as pictograph painting or “writing on the land”, a sign of ancient land occupation by Indigenous Peoples. In the final scene a joined photographic image of Kingcome Inlet is shown with a single fireweed positioned in the foreground. The fireweed shows resilience and growth after decimation, having a preference for “disturbed land”.