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Education grad making waves in First Nations art world

By Heidi Wicks | March 18, 2009

Marcus Gosse has been busy since completing his bachelor of education.
Currently teaching in Shubenacadie, N.S., at Indian Brook First Nations, Mr. Gosse is currently awaiting publication of a children’s book written by the guidance counsellor at his school, and illustrated by him. Titled The Little Sunflower, it will be released this year. The text is in both English and Mi’kmaq.

Mr. Gosse has also created the First Nations Art Program, which meets the curriculum in Nova Scotia schools, has made numerous donations of his artwork (one included in the Curriculum Materials Centre here in Memorial’s Education faculty), including the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Since discovering he is one-quarter Mi’kmaq, he has devoted his career to the exploration of their culture, largely by working with children.

“I’ve completed five murals to date with my students,” Mr. Gosse explained. “They range from four feet wide to 37 feet long. They represent strength, courage, pride, spirituality, success, empowerment and joy. The students gain a real sense of pride by doing this, and can say to their relatives, ‘I helped paint the murals in our new school.’”

He also said that his school is in the process of obtaining a printing press so the students can produce mass volume limited edition linocut prints., and allow the students to complete more complicated and compelling projects.

“We recently had an art show to showcase all our wonderful art and to announce that we may have created the first Aboriginal/First Nations art program in Canada. The program explores how Mi’kmaq and other Native tribes throughout the world visually celebrate themselves, and we derive miages through thes tudy of historical images from many different cultures. We create Mi’kmaq petroglyphs, pictograms and hieroglyphs, we trace influences of various cultures on contemporary artwork, and we develop knowledge, understanding and appreciation of art and design in both historical and contemporary cultures.”

Mr. Gosse also noted that the program examines tribes from around the globe, from the Pueblo, Apache, Navajo (in Canada and the US), to Incan, Mayan, Maori, Aborigine and others.

He also believes that Newfoundland and Labrador’s rich native culture is not explored to its’ fullest extent.

“The textbooks in Newfoundland need more attention and focus,” he said. “During my internship I couldn’t believe the lack of information on native culture in Newfoundland. As educators, we always are told to remember that Newfoundland not only has a strong, rich and beautiful European culture, but also an amazing native culture. However, Conne River First Nations is our only federal status community or reserve. Other communities like Indian Head, St. George’s, Glenwood – hardly anyone knows about these.”