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Friends, as the title to my newest painting suggest, we always live in times of change.

In fact, that, change, is the only constant, that things are simply not bound to stay the way they are.

Don’t regret anything, because we all make our mistakes and that is how we learn, columnist Antoine Mountain writes. painting by Antoine Mountain

One of the ways in which being able to express yourself in more than one way comes in handy is even at the highest levels of learning.

To end the fifth year of Indigenous PhD Studies I had to complete the comprehensive exams on the 120 textbooks we use as reference, plus the supporting material.

At this level its simply not possible to just get by, especially not when your board of examiners are sitting right there, firing questions at you for an hour or more. Students get physically ill at these things.

Trent University’s Indigenous Studies program is the longest of its kind anywhere in the Americas, now enjoying its half-century 50th Anniversary.

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A result of my having completed these exams is that I can now include my art, usually in the form of the murals I work with the youth of my hometown, Radilih Koe/Fort Good Hope, on, summers.

I can also include my own images, like this one, to do with the five stages of grief.

One of the things I always keep in mind about our local people was what my late-Uncle, Charlie Tobac, always said, that we Dene are living in a time of grief, that we are missing our life on the land.

The first thing you go through in a time of grief, even now with the Covid-19, is the denial. We don’t want to take it seriously enough. Another is anger, we tend to want to lash out at those nearest and dearest to us.

The third stage of grief, and the one most clearly shown in this work of art, is bargaining. We want to somehow erase the present, even to the point of making a deal with God.

One definite advantage about using a visual, rather than words, is that it opens up a world of what you can do and say. Over time you learn how to get your message across as an artist and writer.

The last is the acceptance, giving in to what reality is all about.

I had my share of that, and now living a sober life for well over 25 years and counting, every single day.

Don’t regret anything, because we all make our mistakes and that is how we learn.

For now, keep well, friends and stay on the safe side. Mahsi, thank you.

Antoine Mountain

Antoine Mountain is a Dene artist and writer originally from Radilih Koe/Fort Good Hope. He can be reached at www.mountainarts.com.

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