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Giant National Dreamcatcher on Display in Confederation Centre’s Memorial Hall

July 19, 2017

Dreamcatcher installation celebrates the hopes of young Canadians from coast to coast to coast (Charlottetown, P.E.I.) - The dreams of our youth are centre stage this summer as the TD Confederation Centre Young Company tour the country, celebrating the ambitions of the next generation of Canadians through the new musical The Dream Catchers.

The inspiration and central component of this Canada 150 Signature project is also attracting large crowds to Memorial Hall, where a large dreamcatcher hangs from end to end in the Centre's central gathering space. The 22-foot creation made by Mi'kmaq artist Nick Huard unites the dreams of young Canadians from every province and territory as well as those of Huard himself. For Huard, dreamcatchers are a tool for envisioning the future and the national dreamcatcher is meant to serve as a means for nation building, inclusivity, and starting a conversation. The piece is entitled, The Dreams of What Canada Should Be.

Many First Nations across Turtle Island - or North America - carry their own legends of the dreamcatcher but it is commonly recognized that they were passed down from the Ojibway through intermarriage and trade. The patterns of the dreamcatcher are similar to how some First Nations tied the webbing for their snowshoes. As the legend goes, the dreamcatcher is meant to help people reach their goals; the web will catch one's good ideas and dreams and the bad ones will fall through.

The creation of the national dreamcatcher and The Dream Catchers musical began this past winter with a workshop tour across Canada that engaged communities both rural and urban. Huard, his apprentice artist Watio Splicer, and a creative team from the Centre travelled to the thirteen provinces and territories, teaching youth about dreamcatchers and other dream traditions and exploring their hopes for the future with a focus towards environment, inclusion, and reconciliation.

Huard and Splicer helped the youth create their own small dreamcatchers that were later woven together into a united exhibition in Charlottetown. The completed art work, comprised of over 200 dreamcatchers, is now on display and can be visited through the remainder of 2017 during regular daily hours at the Centre.

The Dream Catchers project was born from Huard's vision of creating a national dreamcatcher through teaching youth about his indigenous culture -- a dream he has held for 30 years. Born in Restigouche, New Brunswick, Huard lived on reserve in the Gaspésie region before being sent to residential schools as a young boy. He emerged from these schools fluent in English and French, but having lost his own Mi'kmaq language.

In addition to spending a career as a broadcaster and cameraman, Huard has dedicated his life to the arts, creating dreamcatchers for many years, and his works hang in museums around the world. The materials he uses are all natural, handmade from rawhide and polishing turquoise into shells and into bone. No creatures have been killed or maimed in order to obtain elements used in the fabrication of his dreamcatchers.

To learn more about The Dream Catchers musical, or the legend of the dreamcatcher, visit dreamingcanada.ca/en/dreamcatcher.

The Dream Catchers is a Canada 150 Signature project, funded by the Government of Canada, sponsored by TD, produced by Confederation Centre.
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Photo cutline: Marsha Gallant photo from Memorial Hall.