Tuesday 25 August 2009

REVISED: Event Occurs Tuesday at noon. Raising A Totem Pole - A rare event in Ontario.

Don Yeoman's latest will be raised at the McMichael on Wednesday morning. First new totem pole in a GTA public building since 1984
There are few opportunities to see a totem pole raised in Ontario. For one thing, although there are First Nations' artists who carve Totem Poles in the province, their work is often classed as tourism-driven. Before the turn of the last century, pole carving was not considered part of the Woodland culture.
No, the tradition of totem pole carvings belong to the First Nation Tribes of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Totem poles are monumental sculptures carved from large trees, usually cedar, but mostly Western Redcedar, and the peoples of the west coast have been making them since the 18th century.
According to Wikipedia "totem pole construction underwent a dramatic decline at the end of the 19th century due to American and Canadian policies and practices of acculturation and assimilation."
Although the number of new poles created last century was very small, the tradition continued. And today a number of successful native artists carve totem poles on commission. So successful are these artists that it is hard to purchase a new pole ... their work is such high demand.
Back in 1984, Toronto's sesquicentennial a new totem pole was commissioned and raised inside the public space of the Macleans Magazine / College Park building in downtown Toronto. Since then there hasn't been a totem raised in public space. But, that is going to change next Wednesday!
A new, very modern (the totem includes images of ipods, cell phones and computers) totem carved by Don Yeoman is to be erected next Wednesday morning, indoors, at the McMichael.
I have assisted in both the repossession of an indoor totem in Windsor and the erection of a large two-story totem in Curve Lake, Ontario. Because Totem's tend to have wings at the top, their erection, especially when it is windy, is a very tricky and dangerouns operation.
With that in mind, the McMichael is restricting access to the gallery on Wednesday to working media, when Don Yeomans' 20ft tall totem is erected inside the McMichael's Great Hall. Here are the details.

Photo Opportunity: REVISED TUESDAY, September 1, 2009 at NOON

A Media Exclusive by invitation only! This is the only opportunity to cover the installation of the McMichael’s latest major art acquisition – a twenty-foot totem pole to be raised in the gallery’s Grand Hall.
WHAT: The McMichael Canadian Art Collection has recently commissioned a major acquisition; a full-scale totem pole by artist Don Yeomans will be installed in the gallery as part of its permanent collection. The installation and raising of the twenty-foot totem pole will take place September 2nd at 10:00 a.m. in the gallery’s Grand Hall, which will be closed to the public. Media will have exclusive access to witness and photograph/film this historic moment.
WHEN: Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. (photo op will take a maximum of 30 minutes)
WHERE: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Grand Hall. The gallery is located on Islington Avenue, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in Kleinburg.
WHO: Media are invited to attend to witness/photograph/film the totem pole installation and speak with: Artist, Don Yeomans; McMichael Executive Director & CEO, Tom Smart.
WHY: Don Yeomans is one of the most respected and renowned Northwest Coast Native artists. Born of a Masset Haida father and a M├ętis mother from Slave Lake, Alberta, Yeomans has studied and worked in the Haida style since he was a youth. He uses many materials in the creation of his artworks and his carving skills are exceptional and consummate his understanding of the Haida form. This latest thought-provoking artwork challenges many traditional native values by interweaving traditional iconography and totemic animals with today’s different modern modes of technological communication.
About the McMichael
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Culture. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of more than 5,500 artworks, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, First Nations, and Inuit artists.
The gallery is located on Islington Avenue, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in Kleinburg, and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors/students and $30 for families. There is a $5 fee for parking. For more information about the gallery visit www.mcmichael.com.
YOU MUST RSVP PLEASE. Media contact:
Stephen Weir, Publicist
Gallery: 905.893.1121 ext. 2529
Toronto Office: 416.489.5868
Cell: 416.801.3101

Monday 24 August 2009

End Run Publicity - Maroon Elections Look to Foreign Press For Boost At the Polls

cutline: Norma Rowe-Edwards and her election competitors
map showing Trelawny Town Maroons Accompong State of Jamaica

Mrs Norma Rowe-Edwards is on the verge of making Maroon history in Jamaica. Today August 23rd, she could become the first female Colonel (comparable to a city mayor)in the 454-year old history of the Trelawny Town Maroons. Although Jamaica's slogan is one love, truth is that there are two Maroon communities that consider themselves seperate states and believe that legally Jamaica is made up of three sovereign nations.

Nursey (Mrs Norma Rowe-Edwards) is having trouble getting press in Jamaica. She is a female candidate in a world that has been male dominated for over 350 years. Not one to simply take this lack of media coverage, she contacted lawyer Courtney Betty in Toronto, who in turn asked me to create a press release that would be picked up by media in Canada, the US and the UK. It is the old End-Run Publicity tact - get coverage outside your country and the local media will pick up on it, because if it is news in America, it must be news in Jamaica.

This strategy often works. Not sure how it will play out for Nursey, the tight time lines between the opening of nominations in Trelawny and the election date is just three weeks. We will see if the Jamaica press rises to the bait. Here is the release that was crafted for Nursey by myself and Dave Tollington.

August 28th election in Jamaica – Mrs. Norma Rowe-Edwards posed to become the first female Colonel in the 354-year history of the Trelawny Town Maroons Accompong State of Jamaica.

Jamaica, August 14, 2009 … Maroons living in the Trelawny Town Accompong State of Jamaica go to the polls on August 28th to choose a new leader. Candidate Mrs. Norma Rowe-Edwards (affectionately called “Nurse”) is poised to become the first female Colonel in the 354-year history of the Trelawny Town Maroons.
Nurse emphatically differentiates herself from the other contenders by the depth and expanse of the vision she has for Accompong. Among her plans are ideas for the redevelopment of Maroon cultural and political institutions, as well as the development of educational, physical and economic potential. But the issues that resonate most strongly with the emotions of every Maroon and also likely to prove the most contentious are Nurse’s plans to have the post-independence Government of Jamaica formally recognize all articles of the 1738 treaty with Britain, including the restoration of all Maroon lands to the Trelawny Town Maroons of the State of Accompong.
Although little known outside of the Caribbean, the State of Accompong has a unique status within the country – it is a nation within the nation of Jamaica. The citizens of Accompong (Maroons) are descended from the people who resisted Spanish and English slavery, having defeated the English and thus gaining freedom from being enslaved any longer. While their special status is recognized by the current government there are many many issues of law that have to be addressed.
The Maroon settlement of Accompong is perched high up in the mountains of St. Elizabeth in western Jamaica, bordering the western parishes of St. James and Trelawny. Demonstrating the best example worldwide of the Karst rock formation, the beautiful and rugged cockpit mountain range in this area of Jamaica provides the backdrop to a potentially intriguing development in the country’s contemporary politics.
After the British captured Jamaica from Spain on 1655, the Maroons (Africans formerly enslaved by the Spanish) resisted for eighty-three long years the numerous attempts by British authorities to re-enslave them, achieving their goal through the efficient application of guerilla warfare. After inflicting numerous defeats on the local British militia and subsequently crippling the plantation economy of Jamaica (then the most profitable European colony), the British were forced to admit defeat in the instrument of the now famous treaty signed in 1738 on the location of present-day Accompong town. The treaty acceded to the Maroons vast tracts of land that successive Jamaican governments since independence have refused to acknowledge as property not under their jurisdiction.
In the 354th year as a free and independent people, Maroon leadership has persisted under the title of Colonel, a position which historically has been an exclusively masculine domain. But now, the position of Colonel is poised to be occupied for the very first time by a woman. Mrs. Norma Rowe-Edwards (“Nurse”) is the frontrunner in what many observers expect may not to be a particularly close race, given that Nurse is challenged - as one would expect - by three male candidates, including two former Colonels.
The aura surrounding Nurse has become almost mystic - “unbelievably overwhelming”, according to supporters. Amongst Maroons, Nurse re-ignites memories reminiscent of Nanny, the legendary 18th century warrior princess who was sister to Kojo, the famous Maroon leader who signed the treaty signaling the formal surrender of the British colonial armed forces. “It is not just the militant and progressive stance that she has taken towards the issues affecting Maroons, but Nurse – like Nanny - practices traditional African healing methods,” said one supporter, an undergraduate student at the University of the West Indies.
Meanwhile, Nurse has strong international support as well. In Canada, former Ontario MPP and Speaker of the House Alvin Curling and prominent civil rights lawyer Courtney Betty support her campaign. “If Nurse’s ambitious plans manifest even a reasonable amount of success, posterity will mark the leadership of Nurse as the beginning of the Maroon renaissance,” said Mr. Betty. “This is a movement that not only continues to enshrine the Maroon’s language, culture and civil rights, but will also bring the community the best the 21st century will have to offer.”

Editor’s note. Please contact Courtney Betty for phone interviews with Nurse and Alvin Curling.
Issued by:
Stephen Weir & Associates