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Circle of life

Posted on June 16, 2022 by Maple Creek
Taking flight: With his arms outstretched, Lawrence Roy Jr. looks like he is about to fly.

Hoops seem as familiar to Lawrence Roy Jr. as his limbs.
They move in natural, circular motions, creating shapes that become animals, symbols and designs; it is a form of Indigenous storytelling.
Something glorious happens when Roy begins singing, his body cloaked in 30 whirling hoops, his arms outstretched like an eagle taking flight.
It is the climax to his performance at the Jasper Cultural & Historical Centre on Saturday and prompts spontaneous applause.
Roy, a hoop dancer from Saskatoon and member of Little Pine First Nation, was a special guest at a meet-the-artist reception with Wilbur Sargunaraj, whose photo exhibition “Exploring CQ” has been on display in the Richard Rooney gallery. The event coincided with National Indigenous History Month.
Accompanying Roy were his wife, Amber, and their daughter, Gabbrielle, who was celebrating her 5th birthday.
Before he took to the stage, Roy, who began hoop dancing as a boy in Saskatoon, spoke of the importance of the circle in Indigenous culture and how it is a sacred symbol of the interdependence of life.
After his performance, he invited people to join him for an impromptu hoop dancing lesson.
Earlier, Sargunaraj, a cultural intelligence facilitator raised in Tamil Nadu, India, mixed singing with talking to highlight themes in his exhibition. Three times he picked up his ukulele to sing self-penned compositions; one was about treaty acknowledgment, while another was titled “Dance Around the World”; the third one was made up of the word “thank you” in multiple languages.
Sargunaraj said people should not fear making mistakes while journeying towards greater cultural intelligence.
A common obstacle to meaningful interaction was “fear of the other”, he said.
“We all have an unconscious bias.”
Sargunaraj spoke of the four As of “reconcili-action”: aware; acknowledge; amends; and action.
In Canada, he added, it felt as if people were in separate corners.
Tolerance should not be the aim.
“There needs to be a transformation of the heart,” he said.
Wilbur Sargunaraj’s exhibition is on display in the Archie Eichhorn Gallery until June 24.

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