End.

Look, June made me crumble.  So much went on that I forgot I even had a TALONS blog.  From the ends of projects, to trying to make lasting memories, (to my birthday!!), to finals–this month has been absolutely insane.  It had its ups and downs, but these final moments will stick with me…  Kind of like when a cookie’s crumbs stick to your sweaty body in the summer.  (I know, I’m amazing with metaphors.)

The original concept behind this post was that it was going to be my ending to In-Depth.  Did you notice all those commas at the end of my In-Depth posts?  That was supposed to be an artsy and clever thing.  See, the commas were supposed to signify continuation, while this post containing a period meant an end.  I really had my life together back in January to figure this all out.  As you can tell though, things just got super busy and I decided to leave this post for the last day of school.  Which clearly is not today.  When we got out two weeks ago, I’ve been to occupied playing Webkinz (yes) to do anything else.  This post only came back to mind early last week.  I was going to start writing until I remembered… R E P O R T . C A R D S .  I decided to hold off writing this just in case I needed to change some of my final “thoughts” following my report card comments.  Luckily, none of my teachers have left me fuming.  Today, I finally got  myself together and am ready to write this post.  It has a little bit of everything in it–final thoughts on In-Depth, my box, my last words, and a bit of advice to incoming TALONS.

In-Depth

Final Meeting With My Mentor

Learning Centre

In-Depth night was an absolute blast.  While there were some things I could do without (*cough* overpriced mediocre pizza and dripping sweat everywhere *cough*), there were so many amazing experiences to come out of the night.  My learning centre was a booth where attendees could come get a couple of their nails done.  It was a really cool experience to do nails on those other than the people who I’ve been comfortable with.  My centre was super interactive and kept me busy the entire night.  I am extremely happy with how my project turned out.  I learned so much over the five months, and will continue using the skills in years to come.  Although In-Depth is long over, I have continued to try new nail art weekly and am very thankful that I have the skills to pick up these new designs quickly.  Additionally, I have just added nail art tutorials to I’m Hair For You, the blog I created during my Grade 9 In-Depth Project.  It’s amazing to see how my two school projects have now merged together into my biggest “extra-curricular” passion.  The blog has also grown into something much bigger than I ever believed.  If you want to keep up with my hair and nail tutorials, follow I’m Hair For You HERE.

New Design: Cupcakes

My Box

Image result for procrastination spongebobAs soon as I walked into the TALONS room in Grade 9, all I wanted to do was make my box.  Learning new things?  Doing cool projects?  Making friends?  None of those were important.  Plotting out my box, however, was.  From the beginning, I had a vision of my box being a Spongebob reference.  It all started with the image of Spongebob making a rainbow overlayed with text saying “Procrastination” (you know, like “imaginaaaation”).  However, I learned to manage my time decent enough and found this didn’t really represent me.  Also, I figured out that my artistic skill level wasn’t up to that standard.  Next up was “The”.  In the episode titled Procrastination, Spongebob really struggled to write his essay for Boating School.  In one scene, a montage of him working really hard is seen, but in the end, he’s only written the word “the” on his page.  Personally, I felt a strong emotional connection to this scene.  I stuck with the idea of simply writing “the” for quite a long time until I realized that the uncultured, non-Spongebob-watching folk would just think that I forgot to finish my box.  Image result for penny potato chip napkinTherefore, we move to idea three: “Penny, Potato Chip, and Wadded Up Napkin”.  This was going to be a really funny and three dimensional one, until I realized that the chip would probably get moldy and everything would eventually fall off.  During the time when it was finally logical to be thinking about my box, I was really not sure what I would do.  Until it finally came to me: EVIL KERMIT.  Maybe staying in my Spongebob state of mind was holding me back.  It was when I thought outside of the box (haha) that the best idea came to me.  My box reads “me: make a nice box to celebrate your time in TALONS. me to me: make it a meme instead”.  Underneath the text, I painted the iconic Evil Kermit image.  Out of everything I’ve done in TALONS, this is definitely the thing I’m most proud of.  I’ve never painted anything this nice, I’ve never been this funny, and (I believe) I’m the first meme to make it on the wall.  This is my legacy and I’ve never been prouder.

I know, I’m iconic

Final Words

This isn’t even the final section of this post, but at this point, I’m not in the mood to rearrange my thoughts.  I just simply want to say thank you to everyone who’s made my TALONS experience so amazing.  From my classmates, to my spectacular teachers, to the memes that got me through it all, thank you for being there and making these past two years nothing short of memorable.  I’ve learned so many different things from all of you and I’m definitely going to miss the experiences we share.  ((I’m also going to miss coming up with TALONS conspiracy theories.))  While this one part of our lives has ended, there is so much more ahead for all of us.  Like I stated in our closing circle, we’re basically iCarly (aka the best show ever to air on Nickelodeon that deserves to get a reunion movie and is also turning 10 years old this September woah).  While our own great show has ended, we each still have amazing things in front of us.  Unlike the cast of iCarly though, ALL of us will have our own spinoff shows (that will actually get picked up by the network, unlike Gibby’s potential spinoff  that was robbed greatness).  Like Sam & Cat (which deserved more than one season), we will each make appearances in eachother’s shows as guest stars, and those episodes will definitely be the most memorable.  I can’t wait to hear about each and every one of your new shows–I’m sure they’ll be fantastic.  Now, at this point, I feel like I should put in some sort of inspirational quote or something.  Let’s see…  In the words of our queen Miranda Cosgrove: “So wake up the members of my nation / It’s your time to be / There’s no chance unless you take one / And it’s time to see / The brighter side of every situation / Some things are meant to be / So give me your best and leave the rest to me.”  (Listen to this sick track right HERE.  Want even better nostalgia?  Indulge in Leave It All To Shine, the best song ever from the craziest crossover in existence, right HERE.)

Advice For Future TALONS

I couldn’t leave this post without pitching in a couple words of wisdom for incoming TALONS.  In the months before joining TALONS, I know that I was aggressively stalking the TALONS blogs looking for any insider tips on how to survive the program.  This was my first mistake as people on their blogs seemed so intelligent and in control of their lives, while I was the complete opposite.  Therefore, by leaving the following three tips at the bottom of this post, I hope that at least one incoming TALONS student will go into the program with a little more confidence.

1) Take risks!  Try something new, step outside of your comfort zone, and let yourself experiment in the most supportive environment possible.  Let others in on your goals and use the many aspects of TALONS to grow and accomplish them.  Achieving greatness out of the things that you feared the most will always pay off.  They may even be your fondest memories of the program.  Most importantly, these risks will set you up for greatness beyond TALONS and give you the confidence you need for the next time you need to do something initially unsettling.

2) Take care of yourself.  TALONS learners are always amazing when it comes to taking care of one another, but remember to take care of yourself too.  Always do your best in whatever you do, but know that your health is more important than getting 100% on an assignment.  Take breaks, eat well, and most importantly SLEEP!  (I know you’re thinking “Pshh, sleep?  Who needs that?  No big deal.” but seriously, go to bed.  It’s not something you can just catch up on during the weekend.  You’ll be way happier when well rested.)

3) Don’t wear ripped jeans on the first day of school.  Please.  It’s for your own good.

Goodbye TALONS

lol bye :))

Spirit

blackout-poem

The Poem:

My poem uses words that can be found on page 60 of The Golden Spruce.  While the words of the poem are formatted in the style of a fridge magnet poem, all of the words are in sequential order, much like blackout poetry.  The text is as follows:

Pulsing.  Moving.

The bursting crowd rumbled outside.

Ravens hung motionless,

Singers rose into the air with grief.

Spirit was dead.

Spirit was leaving.

Flames rise.

For a long time, it were comfortable

But some cracks begin to show.

People break out and glide away

Engulfed by the fire.

The Image:

Accompanying my poem is an image that shows a dead forest, still surrounded by small flames and smoke.  Unfortunately, I am unable to re-find where I initially retrieved the image from, however; the same photo can be found on the here on the Rocky Mountain Catastrophe & Restoration website.

About:

I chose to create my found poem using words from the Golden Spruce chapter titled “The People”, as I found its detailed description of Aboriginal culture at the time to be quite interesting.  From our initial look into residential schools at the start of the year, to my recent confederation character, I have been spending a lot of my social studies journey this year looking into the history of different Indigenous communities.  I wanted to continue this theme during The Golden Spruce as well.  The reasoning behind choosing the specific passage from page 60 is that I found the description of the events at Skilay’s funeral to be very captivating and vivid.  The story paints Skilay’s funeral to be quite a joyous time — a celebration of life, instead of a time of mourning.  I really admire how the First Nations can take something that many perceive as negative, such as death, and make it into an extravagant and positive occasion.  Using the theme of duality, I took this happy(ish) celebration, and had it become something much darker.  I turned the Aboriginal’s positive outlook on the theme of death, and conformed it to the stereotypical fear instead.  I took the words that conceptualized this occurrence as peaceful and calm, and turned it around to become something haunting.

Alternates,

Photo:

Flowers with Gems

I can’t believe we have just over a month left until In-Depth Night!  I feel like I’ve learned so much, and yet I still want to learn so much more.  Since my last post, I have had two meetings with my mentor.  During these sessions, we have continued to try out new nail art styles and have been polishing up on some old ones as well.  As nail art can often be a trial and error process, through these past few months, Sandi and I have gone through a variety of different concepts and alternatives with our designs.

Photo:

Pink/Purple/Blue Ombre

Two weeks ago, Sandi and I spent quite a bit of time working on ombre nail art.  I learned that the concept behind creating an ombre nail is actually quite simple.  We started by taping the area around the nail to prevent mess, then picked out three different polish colours, painted the base of the nail with the middle colour, painted a line of each colour onto a makeup sponge, before finally dabbing the sponge onto the nail.  After using this technique, we also came up with some different alternatives for various steps in the process.  For example, when I practiced ombre at home, I realized that certain colour combinations (ie. red, orange, and yellow) should begin with a base coat of the lightest polish, instead of the middle polish.  In terms of preparation, Sandi talked to me about the option to use a latex nail polish barrier around the nails instead of tape to prevent mess from the sponge.  However, we quickly decided against this option as the product is quite expensive, and latex allergies could be a concern for In-Depth Night.  Lastly, during our most recent meeting, Sandi showed me a way to blend colours before transferring them onto the sponge and later, the nail.  In this technique, a line of each colour gets painted onto a glass surface, such as a tile, and a toothpick is used to lightly blend the colours into eachother.  The sponge is then used to pick up the colour before again, dabbing it onto the nail.  I noticed that while this technique is useful to create a more unified blend (which is good for when you want a smooth transition between very different colours), it is more time consuming.  I can definitely see myself using this technique at home, but it might not be the most practical choice for In-Depth Night.

Photo:

Dragged Flowers

Another new skill we have started working on is dragged flowers.  Although we have previously spent time on a rose pattern, I wanted to learn a minimalistic flower design as well.  The design starts out with 5  dots placed in the shape of circle.  While the paint is still wet, a toothpick is used to drag a bit of each dot to the centre of the circle, creating a petal appearance.  Then, a different coloured dot or a gem can be used in the centre of the flower.  In my designs, I decided to add a couple additional dots to the nail to create a French tip effect.  In past posts, I have mentioned that an alternative to using nail polish is to use acrylic paint for nail art.  Sandi had brought up this alternative because often, nail polish is not opaque enough for designs to stand out.  Therefore, we’ve stuck to using paint for patterns in the past few sessions.  However, we noticed that this design actually turned out better with a polish.  Because this design includes dragging, the more watery and easy-to-be-manipulated polish is more effective.  It really helps to bring each petal to a point and also allows some of your base colour to show through.

Some of the smaller (but just as important) alternatives Sandi and I have thought about are as follows:

  • Popcorn
    • Add some yellow to the kernels to help distinguish the design as popcorn (as opposed to clouds)
    • Paint 1/3 of the nail red with white stripes to look like a popcorn box
  • Cherries
    • To easily create stems, mix the green paint with a little bit of water.  This will help the line “glide” when painting
  • Ombre
    • Use ombre colours as the basis of a design, for example, the base of a watermelon
    • Put design (like a flower) on top of the ombre
  • Dragged Flowers
    •  Place the flower near an edge, so that the design goes off the nail
    • Use two colours
      • Create a second dot flower within the first.  Then, when you drag the polish to a point, the colours will blend
      • Use a tiny brush to add small strokes of different colours to the inside of the flower
Photo:

Cherries

Photo:

Ombre with Dragged Flowers

Before my next session, I will continue to practice the designs I have learned so far and will play around with the alternatives for each.  Sandi has also asked me to come up with my 100% final list of designs I’d  like to work on before In-Depth Night.  While I had some decided for our last couple meetings, not everything was set in stone.  Now, I actually have to face the difficult decision of narrowing down my learning to a dozen, or less, designs.  I definitely understand why this is a good idea, but it will be hard for me have to set my focus to only a couple things, when there’s still so much out there to learn.
After this, my time will be spent strictly practicing all of the final designs for In-Depth Night.  I will need to work on my technique, my speed, and my organization of people for when they come to my station.  I’ll also need to figure out the most effective way to set up my learning centre, especially as it is going to be very hands on and I’ll need a lot of supplies spread out.  I’m really looking forward to In-Depth Night this year and am super excited to demonstrate all of the cool skills I’ve learned.  If you’re doing a stage performance and have time during the learning centres, be sure to head on over to my station to get a neat nail art demonstration!

Learning From Our Friends in New Zealand

From: http://zh-tw.tepuia.com/zh-TW/culture-architecture-and-pa-tw/

Background

Confederation is often explained as a great and progressive thing, and I mean, it is hard to deny its value to making our nation what it is today.  However, when we put confederation on a pedestal for its “inclusiveness”, that’s where we go wrong.  When we take a good look into confederation,  it is easy to notice that while many groups of people are included in the discussions, almost as many are not.  This was true for Aboriginal communities at the time.  What makes this particular exclusiveness even worse is that it was the Aboriginal’s land that was at stake.  They, more than anyone, deserved to be included in the process of confederation.

All of the exclusiveness at the time makes me wonder how things would differ if the Aboriginals were included in the development of Canada.  How would it have changed the relationships at the time or even our current relations today?  Would there be new benefits for all groups by working together?  How much of a say would the Aboriginals even get?  Although the answers to these questions would all be hypothetical, I still wanted to take a look into a topic that would help me further my thinking about these things.  Therefore, I have decided to look into the question:

  • How did a country that included Aboriginals in confederation differ from a country (like Canada) did not?

 Research

The country I decided to look into to answer this question was New Zealand.  Canada and New Zealand did, and still do, have many structural similarities, but also some significant differences on their relationship with Indigenous peoples.  Like Canada, New Zealand had complications with their Indigenous communities at first, but unlike Canada, were able to resolve their problems in a timely fashion.  The following PDF from the Cape York Institute was the resource I used to conduct my research:

A little background: New Zealand was home to Indigenous peoples before colonization occurred.  Once the British arrived, the Maori people were treated poorly; their land taken, discriminatory policies made against them, and the inability to practice their culture.   In addition,  the British brought over disease.  This resulted in the death of an abundance of Maori peoples, making them a minority.  Sound familiar?  This is similar to the early history of Canada in terms of their relationship with the various Aboriginal communities.  Unfortunately, Canada’s story does not improve as effectively as New Zealand’s does.

27 years before Canada’s confederation, New Zealand went through major positive change with the Maori peoples.  In 1840, approximately 500 Maori chiefs contributed to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.  This treaty is especially important to history as it was the framework for all future positive relations between the peoples of New Zealand.  As outlined by Cape York Institute’s paper, there are three key articles which are a part of the treaty:

  • “Article One declares that the native chiefs cede their sovereignty and authority absolutely and without reservation to the British Crown (although this is disputed, as the Maori text of the Treaty employs a concept that falls short of the English concept of ‘sovereignty’).
  • Article Two confirms and guarantees the Indigenous tribes ‘full exclusive and undisturbed’ possession of their properties as long as they wish to retain those properties; but says that the tribes yield to the Crown the exclusive and pre-emptive right of alienation at agreed prices.
  • Article Three says that ‘in consideration therefore’ – so in return, presumably, for ceding sovereignty and granting the Crown the exclusive and pre-emptive right to buy native land – the Crown grants the native people ‘royal protection’ and imparts ‘all the rights and privileges of British subjects’. Thus, Article Three gives the native people equal citizenship and equality before the law, but may also establish a duty of protection, whereby the Crown is supposed to act in the best interests of Indigenous people. “

The Treaty of Waitangi was a huge help in initially changing the national mindset to be respectful of Maori rights.  Through this treaty, New Zealand recognized themselves to be bicultural, with Maori language and culture being a part of the country’s identity to this day.  The New Zealand national anthem is often performed in the Maori language and Maori rituals are performed during various ceremonies.  Each are also taught in schools.  Furthermore, New Zealand celebrates “Waitangi Day” as a national holiday.  While we have Canada Day, New Zealand chose to have Waitangi Day (as opposed to something like “New Zealand Day”) to celebrate the signing of the Waitangi Treaty.

Years later, following the practices of the treaty, the Waitangi Tribunal was born.  In 1975,  the tribunal was created as a safe space for the Maori to share their stories.  In doing so, the remainder of the country is educated on Maori history.  What makes the tribunal worth looking up to is the fact that half of the members are experts in Maori affairs, while the other half are Maori themselves.  Thus creating a very valid representation of the group.  Cape York Institute explains the Waitangi Tribunal as follows:

  • “It is an important forum for the Maori to tell their story, and it provides a safe environment in which to air their grievances.
  • It has an educative role for the country as a whole (particularly through the reports that it hands down).
  • The process is empowering for the Maori: they are able to tell their history the way they want to—this enables them to deal with their emotions in order to focus on the best future.
  • The Tribunal’s role has changed over the years: it has a historical role, but also a role in keeping the Crown honest in managing the Treaty relationship, which has shifted from a focus on compensation to maintaining the ongoing relationship.”

Finally, what really helped to repair the relationship with the Maori peoples was seriously following through with Truth and Reconciliation.  In my last Document of Learning, I discuss Apologies vs. Actions in terms of the Aboriginal people of Canada.  I note that early on, continuous “sorry”s were said and acts without true purpose were made.  For example, “the way that the government and church chose to show apologies was through compensation packages.  These packages provided residential school survivors money in order to repay their bad experiences.”  While an apology and compensation packages are a nice gesture of reconciling, where is the truth?   Who knows it?  New Zealand faces the truth of their past head on, making it much easier for the Maori people to even agree to reconcile.  Why reconcile without the truth?

Conclusion

While we cannot exactly know how including the Aboriginal communities in confederation would effect our country presently, by taking a look at a country that has demonstrated how to be inclusive of Indigenous peoples, we can at least predict what our country could have been.  The quick and effective actions to fix disputes involving the Maori peoples in New Zealand have resulted in better relationships between people in the country today.  Not only does having a bicultural nation make the place more inclusive, but it also helps to create a more unique cultural identity.  If Canada were to follow New Zealand’s path early on (which we totally could have because New Zealand has always been a couple steps ahead), we could see our country living up to its “kind, polite, wonderful” name today.  Although it is unfortunate that we have not reached this point yet, it’s not too late.  Canada should take the time to look into the practices New Zealand has put forward to reconcile with its Indigenous peoples.  By learning from our friends down under, maybe we can be better friends up north.

Hats,

SIX HATS! SIX HATS! SIX HATS!  (Excitement because in my opinion, this is the most interesting chapter in How To Have A Beautiful Mind.)

For this week’s In-Depth post, our job was to record a discussion from a meeting with our mentor and transcribe it along with annotations of how we used the six hats in conversation.  In preparation for my meeting with Sandi, I cleared up some space on my phone and charged it all up so I knew that everything would work out perfectly.  Well let me tell you, even though you think you’re all good and prepared, technology will still choose to fail on you at the worst times.  While I got a good chunk of our lesson recorded, my phone decided to shut down (not even lock, it completely shut off) at some point during the lesson portion.  This didn’t bother me to much, as I knew I had the most important topics recorded.  Fast forward to this week when I was getting ready to transcribe our conversation and attempted to play back our recording; do you want to know what happened?  It didn’t play!  Although my phone still lists the recording in my library, it refuses to play back.  Even worse, later when I tried to sync the recording onto my laptop, the recording didn’t show up in my iTunes library at all.

I am beyond frustrated about this technical difficulty as I have been looking forward to doing this post for a while.  My solution for this problem is to write about my meeting with my mentor in a more paraphrased form, as I have every week.  Even though I won’t have any direct quotes, I will still talk about how we used the six hats in different parts of discussion.  While this isn’t exactly what this post is supposed to look like, I think it will still be sufficient in sharing my experiences of the past few weeks.

Photo:

Black & Gold Art for the Spring Music Concert

I had prepared for my last meeting with Sandi by downloading a bunch of nail art pictures off my camera and onto my phone.  I wanted to show her all of the work I have been doing at home over the past few weeks as a starting point for our day’s session.  I thought that if we took a look at my work so far, it could help us determine what would be best to work on for the day.  Before looking at my photos, I put on the blue hat and explained to Sandi what I hoped would happen as we looked through my progress.  I let her know that we should both be wearing our black hats while looking at the photos as I would really appreciate hearing her critical feedback.  The largest weakness that the black hat noticed was line quality.  Through a short discussion about the use of line, we both ended up wearing red hats saying that it might be better to limit the use of straight line in my designs on in depth night.  Going back to our black hats, Sandi noticed that early on, my dot-based designs were not the greatest (these were when I was often dragging the dotting tool, as mentioned in my previous post).  Fortunately, she did note that my dots were improving over time and it is just a matter of practice until I get them to 100%.

The next thing we talked about, as per Sandi’s suggestion in an email, was my plan for in-depth night.  She suggested that we determine what my medium focus will be for the event, so we can work on that more frequently.  Here, I had to put my red hat back on to discuss my feelings on what we have been working on so far.  Right off the bat, I let Sandi know that I would like to spend more time on hand painting nail art as that was the image I had in mind when I started off in-depth.  As neat as stamping is, it wasn’t really what I pictured myself doing and would rather not spend as much time experimenting with it any longer.  I let her know that I was really enjoying the hand painted designs we have worked on and would like to continue with that.  However, I also mentioned that I would still like to spend a couple more sessions trying out the things we have yet to thoroughly go over, such as striping tape and ombre, just so I can get a feel of the skills before deciding if they are a “yes” or a “no”.

Photo:

Roses on Sandi

Photo:

Cherries on Sandi

For the rest of the day, we were mainly wearing our white hats due to all of the teaching and information being shared.  Sandi taught me how to do two brand new hand painted designs — roses and cherries.  I absolutely love these two designs and am so thankful she taught them to me.  I have been practicing the two of them at home quite often and plan to offer them during in-depth night.  We also spent some time on different sized dotting practice by creating eyes, followed by creating stripes using a nail art brush, trying marble nail art, and using striping tape.  

Photo:

Popcorn Nails

During the different lessons, a variety of other coloured hats got thrown into discussion.  The green hat was used by both myself and Sandi during a few different instances.  She used this hat by showing me how to use acrylic paint as an alternative to nail polish for when we were working on designs.  The paint ended up working much better than polish because its ability to be more opaque makes the small details pop.  Meanwhile, I temporarily put on my green hat when practicing roses.  While painting, I noticed that the basic design for roses looked similar to pieces of popcorn.  I mentioned this to Sandi and we have began to consider doing a popcorn-style design in future.  A final time we used this hat was when we tried marble art for the first time.  Through different types of experimental trials, we ended up concluding that the best way to create a marble design is to begin with a dry base of your selected colour, followed by a wet mix of the two you are swirling.  Coming to this conclusion only happened because the two of us came up with different, creative alternatives to try and then saw what worked best.

Photo:

Marble Nails

The yellow hat was used while I was, again, practicing roses.  Just like with dots, I made the observation that the great thing about roses is that they don’t need to be “perfect” or all the same size.  It is the uniqueness of the pattern that makes it interesting.  This is a big plus as doing a design with some leeway for in-depth night lessens the nerves.  Finally, when working with striping tape, the red hat was brought back out by both myself and Sandi as the two of us shared a similar negative opinion on the medium.  While guaranteed to create straight lines, striping tape is just plain finicky.  The tape is so thin and flimsy that it is very difficult to stick on the nail and then cut down to the right size.  In addition, Sandi mentioned that it doesn’t last very long on the nail and it is quite expensive to buy.  None of these things seemed very enjoyable to me, nor did it really go along with the hand painting theme we talked about earlier.  Therefore, striping tape is officially out.

Photo:

St. Patrick’s Day Colours

Photo:

St. Patrick’s Day Designs

Since this extremely productive meeting, I have been spending a lot of time practicing the new skills I learned. Learning all of these things right before spring break was also a big help because I actually had a reasonable amount of time to play around with my nails.  Some of the designs I worked on, as you can see in the photos scattered throughout this post, are almost exactly like the designs I did during my meeting with Sandi.  Others, like these St. Patrick’s Day sets, have different patterns, but use the same techniques that I have been working on already.  In conclusion, I feel like I have been making really good progress on my project, especially in the past few weeks.  I am excited to spend some time in the next couple months narrowing down and perfecting my designs before an awesome in-depth night!

07.19.1861

My time is coming to a close.  In the life I have lived, I have seen and been through a lot.  From the days of the Act of “Union” (questionable title) forbidding every language except English, to my participation in the fur trade, to the later acceptance of the French culture.  I have seen so many things go downhill and come back up again.  But why do things never improve with the Aboriginal community?

Through the process of Confederation, it appears to me that the opinions of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, and the Maritimes have all been included.  But the Aboriginals?  We have never been asked for our input.  How can we progress with Canada if we have not even been acknowledged?  My understanding of Confederation is that it is supposed to unite us all as one.  “Uniting our country” includes everybody, not just an exclusive group of people.  The Indigenous communities are just as important as any other community part of the process of confederation.  Why can’t we be included along with them?

I don’t think I’ll be around long enough to see the ending of this story.  I do, however, hope that my people will soon be included in the uniting of our country.  The Aboriginals deserve to be included in the planning of Confederation as much as anybody else.  Confederation effects us all.  Whether or not those in power will understand this and grant our wishes is a different story.  At this point, I can only hope for the best.  The best for my daughter and future generations of Cree, Metis, and all other Aboriginal peoples.

*Rosalie L’Hirondelle died on August 2, 1861.

04.17.1812

My name is Rosalie L’Hirondelle.

In 1788, I was born under the traditional name Mistawasis.  It was only when I turned 15 and was married off to a French man named Jean-Paul, that I changed my name to match his.  It’s normal that all intermarriages turn out this way.

I grew up as part of the Nehiyawak, or as the English say, part of the Cree.  I was born just south of the Hudson’s Bay, which meant that many of the elders I knew worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company.  They were, and still are, essential to the European’s success.  We are the ones who help them with the guiding and hunting.  It is us who retrieve the fur for others to trade.  Without my people, who knows what would happen to the fur?  And without the fur, who knows what would happen to my people?

At the moment, I am taking a short break from traveling with my family from Canada, to England and France.  My husband, Jean-Paul, has been assigned to travel with the fur trading Coureurs des Bois.  I have come along to assist in sewing clothing, making food, and of course, taking care of our young daughter Sophie.

I enjoy travelling with my husband because I am able to see so much more of the world than the other women I know normally would.  Many women of my age and from my community spend their days secluded, making clothing and furniture.  While all the work they do is beautiful and appreciated, that’s not what I want to do with my life.  I want to go out and see the world.  I want to have the same opportunities as Europeans and  men.  I want to make change.

But I can’t.  Because I am Cree.  Because I am a woman.  I am in the minority of a minority and it limits me beyond belief.  Recent talk started by a man named Durham has me even more worried about my future.  Limiting the language in Canada to strictly English is going to send even more discrimination in my direction.

Life within Canada cannot change so negatively.  My people and the Europeans have a steady trade relationship going. We need eachother, that’s a fact.  Forcing us to speak the same language will not make positive change between groups. We still rely on eachother all the same.

Questioning,

In the time between my last In-Depth post and my most recent meeting with my mentor, I made lots of new progress.  Right after my first meeting with Sandi, I set out to do my initial supplies gathering.  Using a combination of scrounging around my house and going to beauty supply stores, I have been able to get my hands on most of the basic supplies I’ll need for my nail art endeavors.  In the weeks between our two meetings, I spent some time trying out the dotting tools that she suggested I purchase.  The only prior experience I had with dotters was the 15-or-so minutes that we used to experiment with them during our session previously.  Therefore, my work at home was…interesting.  On my right hand (blue and gold), I did some of the basic dot-based designs that Sandi and I had discussed.  These styles being polka dots, flowers, and hearts.  I thought these styles would be a breeze, even when I was using my non-dominant hand.  I was wrong about that.  Although using a dotter for nail art seems quite simple, and definitely makes everything look more crisp and round than a brush does, it still takes some getting used to.  After finishing my not-so-simple “simple designs”, I moved on to painting my left hand.  I thought that if the dotter is so amazing, then maybe I’d be able to do better designs with it as well.  Wrong again!  I tried to do a Harry Potter set of nails (black and white), and while they didn’t turn out horrible, they took much longer than something of that quality probably should have.  After I finished, I realized that while dotters are a great tool for certain patterns, they may not be the universal design makers.

In preparation for my next meeting with Sandi, I did the homework she assigned me, which was looking for different nail art inspiration and designs.  Prior to my meeting, I emailed Sandi some of the designs which I found interesting, including a mosaic, an ombre butterfly, and some cherry blossoms.

At my next meeting with Sandi, I definitely felt a lot more comfortable than I did the first time around, making it easier for me to ask questions and for clarification.  The topics of the meeting were still quite introductory as I still need lots of practice with the basics.  The meeting began with Sandi giving me a finalized list of the supplies I should look into (including the places I could buy them).  I found it very thoughtful that she too is thinking about my project outside of our meeting hours.  It’s nice to have a mentor who is as dedicated as I am.  After this, we picked up where we left off last meeting with stamping and dotting.  Sandi and I both realized that my biggest obstacle with nail art is my speed, or lack thereof.  When doing stamps, the paint dries quite quickly meaning that the artist needs to move fast.  Because I am not confident in my technique yet, I tend to move quite slowly, resulting in the stamp transfer not being the best.  A similar dilemma happens with dotting.  When I place the dotter on the nail, I tend to linger.  Subconsciously, I think that this will make sure the dot is clear, but in reality, it makes the dot more smudged.  Sandi explained to me that it seemed that I was almost trying to paint with the dotter, instead of actually  dotting with a quick motion.  I thought about the experience I had with my Harry Potter nails from the weekend before because at the time, I was purposely trying to paint with my dotter.  I asked Sandi “When do you know when to use a dotter versus when to use a nail art brush?”  She told me that dotters are used for exactly what they sound like, dots!  Patterns or images that contain dots should be the only reason why you would use a dotter.  Anything else where you are dragging paint, such as lines, would need a brush.  The mini-lesson made sense to me and confirmed the previous thoughts I had about the topic as well.  Unfortunately, I still wasn’t feeling 100% about my dotting abilities.  I then clarified with Sandi the motion of dotting by putting it in my own words and reiterating my understanding back to her.  For those reading who are interested in using the tool, the most concise way that I can put dotting is that it is a quick up and down motion.  The concept is so simple, that I often feel there should be more to getting a perfect circle.  However, keeping things simple is what dotting is all about.

After spending some more time on stamping and dotting, Sandi and I moved onto a set of new skills.  Firstly, we went over adding gems to designs.  Gems are such an easy way to add an extra accent and complexity to nails,  without having to spend more time designing.  Adding gems is quite a simple process, it just takes practice picking up the tiny stones and attaching them to the nail.  After a couple of tries though, I felt pretty good about gems.  After this, we moved onto some of the techniques used in the sample designs I sent Sandi.  We did some more dotting based on a cherry blossom design before moving on to trying out ombre.  Like stamping and dotting, the trick with ombre is to move fast and with confidence.  Once again, I don’t describe myself as either.  The other tricky thing with ombre is creating a good colour combination that easily fades from one colour to the next.  As neither Sandi nor myself have tons of experience with ombre or creating the best colour combinations, this process was quite experimental.  Although the end result I created wasn’t the nicest looking, I think I at least have a good idea of how ombre is applied.  I just need to get better at actually applying it.  The last new thing Sandi and I talked about was a nail hack she saw online.  One of the designs that I sent to her was a plaid print.  Even though Sandi had never tried this before, she wanted to see if it was possible for us to create a plaid nail sticker.  The reason being that the look would be easier and more crisp-looking than hand painting would be.  Because this technique was such a first for the both of us, the end result wasn’t much of anything.  However, I really liked going through this experience because in a way, it showed me that Sandi is human too.  Even though she’s my mentor and an expert in the field, knowing that she’s still learning and willing to try out new things along side me, makes me feel like I can relate to her even more.

Throughout our meeting (and as you can probably tell through this post), a common theme kept arising – SPEED!  Not only did Sandi keep reiterating how speed is important in terms of technique, but she also mentioned how in the big picture, speed is going to be important as well.  Based on this repetition, I could tell that speed is a big value and skill in Sandi’s mind, and I can see why.  Clients can be impatient, they have things to do.  As the artist, you need to be accommodating of that.  Both myself and Sandi know that this will be especially true for my future “clients” on In-Depth Night.  Throughout our past two sessions, Sandi has kept my learning centre in the front of her mind.  I know that she wants my station to be productive and successful, which is why she is continuously reiterating the value of speed.  In order to achieve success on In-Depth Night, she knows that I will need to be very efficient with my demonstrations at my learning centre.  We have already had a couple discussions about the best way to go about doing this (ie. setting up a couple clients at once and going through them like a production line).  However, we still have a couple months to figure out the final logistics.

Before our meeting ended, I had a couple final questions for Sandi.  The first thing being “Where are places I can look for inspiration?”  I wanted to ask this because when I was looking for initial nail art examples, I was pretty much stuck on Google Images.  I was curious to know where she gets her ideas.  She told me that she loves using Pinterest and suggested I get an account.  That way I could look up inspiration myself, as well as follow her nail art board where she pins her inspiration.  Over the weekend I made my account, and I already have a bunch of new ideas I would like to try out.  She also pointed me to a couple Instagram accounts she follows such as TheNailBoss (quite advanced, uses acrylic not polish, still a good idea to look through) and NailsByJema (fun designs, uses variety of techniques including stamps, stencils, and hand painting).  The last thing I asked Sandi about before I left was “What do I need to work on for next time?”  Her main suggestion was to just keep practicing.  The key points she told me to focus on was using the dotting tool as well as using the paint brush to draw smooth lines.  I wrote both of these things down while we set up our next meeting, before leaving her house with a smile on my face from all the new things I learned.

Since then, I have begun my practice with dotting and lines, as per Sandi’s suggestion.  I also tried out some gem application of my own.  With the dotting specifically, I already feel a huge improvement compared to my last dotting attempt.  You can find these photos below.  As the reader, if you have any feedback on my nail art or have any cool ideas of things I can do in the future, please let me know, I would really appreciate it!

Photo:      Photo:

When was the Iroquois Confederacy?

Dating the Iroquois Confederacy (Bruce E. Johansen) was an article on the Confederacy that I found to be quite interesting.  The piece discusses how researchers Barbara Mann and Jerry Fields came to the conclusion that the Confederacy took place in 1142 AD.  They used a set of different perspectives and facts to oppose the common belief that said the Iroquois Confederacy came to be in 1451.  Unlike most other scholars, Mann and Fields took into consideration documents, eclipse data, and Iroquois oral accounts.

“Mann and Fields believe that scholars who argue the later dates dismiss the Iroquois oral history as well as solar-eclipse of data. Since such scholars use only documentary sources with dates on them, and since such documents have been left to use only by non-Indians, the Native American perspective is screened out of history, they argue. “It is capricious, and most probably racial, of scholars to continue dismissing the [Iroquois] Keepers [oral historians] as incompetent witnesses on their own behalf,” Mann and Fields argue in their paper.”

I was quite satisfied to know that the dating of the confederacy was eventually determined using a variety of sources that included the Iroquois oral history.  Now, I only wish that more researchers of history topics did the same with other Aboriginal accounts.

To read the full article, click here!