Aboriginal Program

A place to gather, reflect, practice, teach, and celebrate Aboriginal culture.

Emily Carr’s Aboriginal Gathering Place hosts students, contemporary artists, and informs curriculum and community.

It is a centre that reflects the cultural characteristics of our Aboriginal students, community and traditions. The Gathering Place allows our Aboriginal students to develop and strengthen their identities in a supportive, safe environment. We foster learning experiences and are committed to providing the necessary support to Aboriginal students to ensure their academic success. Our interdisciplinary Aboriginal curriculum encompasses both the traditional and contemporary artistic expressions of Aboriginal peoples, and is a valuable resource for students in accessing and exploring traditional materials and methods. Courses include studio practice, art history, critical theory and industrial application.

Join us at the Aboriginal Gathering Place for artist talks, Indigenous talking circles and special events.
Aboriginal include status, non-status, Métis and Inuit peoples. Students with Aboriginal ancestry are encouraged to self identify on their application forms and contact the Aboriginal Office.These are important resources and contacts for your application journey:

Cedar Harvesting with Brenda Crabtree, Urban Access Project 2016

Brenda Crabtree is the Director of Aboriginal Programs at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. She is a member of the Spuzzum Band and has both Nlaka’pamux and Sto:lo ancestry. Her art practice includes cedar and spruce root basketry, drum making, moose hair tufting and beadwork. Her work is continually shifting between traditional and contemporary representation and re-interpretation. She creates objects using traditional materials and techniques…and often incorporates politically motivated text to combat historical amnesia. Urban Access is a program designed to provide an opportunity for Aboriginal people living in urban areas to access and explore traditional and contemporary Aboriginal art forms and materials. The intergenerational participants reflect a diverse representation of our urban Aboriginal community. The program focuses on developing, promoting and perpetuating cultural material practice and technical skills. Participants explore and apply their own cultural context to the design of their projects. The tangible outcomes include deer hide drums, containers and rattles, beadwork, moose/caribou hair tufting, form line design, painting, drawing, cedar basketry and a diverse range of objects created from traditional and contemporary materials. Urban Access is hosted in the Emily Carr Aboriginal Gathering Place and is dedicated to promoting Aboriginal identity in a respectful, safe, and culturally welcoming venue that reflects Aboriginal philosophies and values. The research, development and implementation of this program has been funded by the Vancouver Foundation and Canada Council for the Arts and supported by the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. For more information about this project and for more details about the traditional art forms and practices illustrated in the videos, please visit http://aboriginal.ecuad.ca/urban-access/.

Totem Pole Carving: Storytellers Have Big Mouths - Luke Parnell, Urban Access Project: Aboriginal Gathering Place

Luke Parnell is an artist of Haida and Nisga’a heritage who, through the use of traditional techniques from the Northwest Coast, investigates contemporary social issues. Parnell also simultaneously acknowledges the historical implications of his method of working within his practice. Traditional Northwest Coast art was centred on the convergence of intangible and material wealth: an individual’s rights and privileges and the objects that represented them. Parnell’s work continues to address ideas of rights, ownership, and privilege in the context of his own experience. Parnell has been a professional artist for ten years. Having graduated from Emily Carr with distinction, Parnell is the recipient of the 2012 Winsor Gallery Graduate Student Award. He has exhibited work across Canada, recent exhibitions include: Transportation and Renewal at the Seymour Gallery in 2013, Vancouver; Re-contextualizing the De-consecrated at Winsor Gallery in 2014; and a feature at Winsor Gallery in 2015, entitled Concurrent. His work is included in notable collections such as the National Gallery of Canada, and private collection across Canada. Parnell is currently an instructor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Additionally, Parnell was a recipient of the 2016 BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations Art. An award that celebrates artistic excellence in both traditional and contemporary visual art. URBAN ACCESS TO ABORIGINAL ART (URBAN ACCESS) began in 2014 and involved yearly four-week intensive art and design programs that blended studio instruction with cultural studies modules and field trips. Fifteen aboriginal participants were selected each summer to learn traditional forms of art: Carving, Drum Making, Cedar Basketry, Beadwork, Moose Hair Tufting, and Form Line design. The program included cultural studies, visual communication, guest artist talks, and field trips to galleries and museums. Videos have been made of each of these traditional forms of art to share the knowledge and cultural backgrounds of these practices and the artists. Please visit http://aboriginal.ecuad.ca/urban-access/ for more information about this project. The Urban Access Project was generously supported by the Vancouver Foundation, the Ministry of Advanced Education, the Aboriginal Arts Development Awards, the Canada Council for the Arts, The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, the Rona Foundation and the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. The project was managed by Brenda Crabtree, Director, Aboriginal Programs, at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.