Pîkiskwe-speak Virtual Art and Film Installation:
An Invitation to Conversations in Reconciliation

Artist's Statement

Through 2017-2019, the Pîkiskwe-speak Art and Film Installation: An Invitation to Conversations in Reconciliation toured across Canada, making stops at major centres in the east, the west and the north (See Tour Stops). This important cross-Canada tour was a collaborative arts project undertaken by filmmaker Beth Wishart MacKenzie and Indigenous artist, Lana Whiskeyjack, in commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of Confederation in Canada.

An anniversary gives us occasion to look back on our past while at the same time looking forward to new possibilities. For Canada’s Indigenous peoples, however, acknowledging Canada’s 150th was deeply problematic because during this period of time more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children passed through the doors of Indian Residential Schools (IRS) designed to remove them from the cultural influences of their parents and communities and to assimilate them into mainstream Canadian society. The damaging effects of the system on IRS survivors and the children of survivors were brought to light by the careful work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The authors of the TRC Final Report write, “Getting to the truth was hard, but getting to reconciliation will be harder.” They go on to say, “Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem; it is a Canadian one.”

In this “Time of Reconciliation” Pîkiskwe-speak seeks to engage audiences in Conversations of Reconciliation through ART; conversations that will explore the enduring effects of Canada’s IRS system with the aim of writing a new chapter, painting a new vision, and creating a new protocol for Indigenous and Non-Indigenous relations in Canada.

With the cross-Canada tour complete, we are now pleased to offer the content of the Pîkiskwe-speak Art and Film Installation online and to continue the Conversation in Reconciliation we began with the tour.  This VIRTUAL installation includes photographs of the ARTWORKS created by Lana Whiskeyjack for the tour: the powerful mixed-media triptych, Lost My Talk, and other artwork related to the theme of the installation. It also includes the award winning documentary FILM, Lana Gets Her Talk, created by Beth Wishart MacKenzie.

“Pîkiskwe” means “Speak” in the Cree language. Our ONLINE audience is invited to join the continuing Conversation in Reconciliation through WORD and through ART.  Together we can carefully and creatively work to heal the wounding that occurred in our shared history and build community across this wide land.

PÎKISKWE-SPEAK ONLINE is an initiative of Beth Wishart MacKenzie created in cooperation with Lana Whiskeyjack.



Creation of the Installation documentary film, “Lana Gets Her Talk”, was made possible with the support of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter Program.

The cross-Canada touring Art and Film Installation, Pîkiskwe-speak, was “one of 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter Program (in commemoration of Canada’s 150th). With this $35M investment, the Council (exhibited its support of) the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada” (CCA Communiqué).  The final leg of the cross-Canada tour to Vancouver, BC was made possible with the additional support of the Edmonton Arts Council.

Pîkiskwe-speak ONLINE is made possible with the support of the Edmonton Arts Council and the Alberta Media Arts Alliance Society.

With gratitude to Lana Whiskeyjack and collaborators: Richard Gustavsen (Cinematographer), David Cunningham (Picture Editor & Co-Writer), and Johnny Blerot (Audio Post-Production), for the creation of the film “Lana Gets Her Talk”; and Rebecca Lippiatt (Photographer) and Tynan Boyd (Web Developer/Designer) for the creation of Pîkiskwe-speak ONLINE.