“I've witnessed first-hand, the destruction and trauma that resulted from residential schools...”
Indigenous art has been a part of my life since birth.
My grandfather, the late Glen EagleSpeaker, was a renowned multimedia artist that traveled the world with me as a young boy. Today, my works draw upon the timeless teachings he passed onto me. One aspect of Indigenous life I felt wasn’t represented in art are traditional values (respect, humility, truth, bravery, honesty, love and wisdom). Sincere traditional values are the basis of culture, so as a result, I have always concentrated on showcasing their strength.
My graphic novel approach gives me the freedom to address aspects of Indigenous life that do not get proper attention (poverty, cultural “sellouts”, addictions, racism, unemployment etc). The graphic novel medium is truly innovative and allows me to fully express my artistic concerns, in the most traditional way of my ancestors - storytelling.
I've witnessed, first-hand, the destruction and trauma that resulted from residential schools and the horrific government policies which existed for all Canadian Indigenous people, all the way up to the 1980s (some schools were still open in 90s). From my great-great-grandparents, right up to my aunts, uncles and parents, residential schools have impacted those well beyond just survivors. This too, is reflected in my works.
My preferred art methods are graphic novels and comics (digital and print), pastel, watercolor, social media, interactive web design and smartphone applications - with a dual goal of revealing Indigenous-based values and enhancing awareness of contemporary/ traditional Indigenous issues.
Jason Eaglespeaker is a graphic novelist of Blackfoot and Duwamish descent living in Calgary.