Inuk artist Susan Aglukark will be teaching two sessions at the Haliburton School of Art + Design (HSAD) this summer – and it won’t be singing or song writing, the Juno award winner told The Highlander this week.

She is presenting Ilitsiniq – to teach and learn with emotion – to Indigenous young people Aug. 14-18, followed by a course for non-Indigenous adults on the same topic Aug. 21-25.

The college asked if she might be interested in teaching a course after Aglukark was a student last summer. She told them, “but I need you to understand that I’m really not a teacher and I’ve never really taught.”

However, intrigued by the prospect, she told them she would love to try something if they would let her develop the concept she was envisaging.

“What I’ve created is Ilitsiniq, which is emotional learning versus learning in an institution. It’s more about learning than education,” Aglukark said this week from her home in Oakville.

She added the idea for the first session is using mixed media art as a tool, “to get a story out of the students as a way to decolonize the institutional side of education.

“I want to share what I’ve learned throughout my career,” she said, adding when she started out she was in a state of emotional fear. “When I understood what I was struggling with, it became easier for me to keep pursuing the career while working through the state of emotional fear.

“The hope with the first week of students is to use expression, or art and writing, as a way to ground us in that traumatized part of our brain to navigate that and focus on something. I want to see if what helped me will help them.”

With residential schools prominent in the news, Aglukark said it’s a perfect time for the course since, “we have to acknowledge the intergenerational trauma. The Indigenous learning environments are triggers for many of us.”

Aglukark said the second week is for nonIndigenous adults, “and that one is to work through correcting the narrative towards reconciliation.” She said it will address work for non-Indigenous allies as to their role in the process.

Aglukark said she feels fortunate to be where she is today with her career, and her personal healing. “I just want to share as much as I can about what I’ve learned.”

She added it is not a hardship coming to the Highlands for two weeks in the summer.

“I grew up a northerner on the land hunting, fishing, camping, I’m a small-town girl. When I’m away from the city, I can breathe again. I can exhale, I can relax. I get that feeling out in that area [Haliburton County] all the time. So, it’s like ‘you want to do something here? Yes, please.’ I feel the most like myself when I’m not in a city.”

Registration now open

The college has released the Summer 2023 course calendar for HSAD.

It said it will feature 55 new classes and workshops with programs covering everything from Art as Activism, to Contemporary Rug Hooking, to Forging-Damascus Steel Construction

“There are day camps for children and teens, and week-long workshops for adults yearning for an artistic getaway in the picturesque Haliburton Highlands,” HSAD said in a Feb. 21 media release.

It added HSAD is excited to welcome more than two dozen new teachers, including Aglukark, to the campus to inspire and teach students. Other instructors include Julie Moon, Naomi Smith, Daniel Scott Tysdale and Lisa Barry.

In addition, there will be art talks Wednesdays from July 5 to Aug. 9 in the Great Hall, featuring discussions on topics ranging from Mad Comics to the Story of Seedbeads. The public is welcome to attend a Walk About at the campus Thursday afternoons, watch students work and meet HSAD’s instructors. There will also be live music in the Great Hall Thursday evenings from July 6 to Aug. 10. The concerts are free and open to everyone.

Summer program registration began March 1. Contact the college at 1-866-353-6464 ext. 4 or email to order a 2023 summer program.