The sense of cultural identity lost to Marvin Terry as a child of the ’60s Scoop is emerging now through his art, helping him on his path to self-discovery.
“Art has become my medicine, my healing,” said Oakville’s Terry, one of nine Indigenous artists whose work was selected by the City of Burlington to be permanently displayed in Spencer Smith Park.
“I am a Sixties Scoop survivor who has lost their culture, language and now (I’m) in the midst of reclaiming that part that was taken from me as a child, along with my siblings. My birth parents were both in a bad way and we were just another challenge to them.”
An Ojibwe man from Treaty 2 Territory in Manitoba who spent his youth in foster homes until he was adopted at the age of 14, Terry has always “been drawn to art.” Many might recognize his name from editorial cartoons in major Canadian newspapers, including the Toronto Star. His artistic leanings go back even further though, from drawings his nurses asked him to sign as a young hospital patient to illustrating school projects for friends.
Mixed with his editorial cartoons were sports-themed comics and pet portraits for family and friends.
Art has always been a way to express his creative side, but never a career, said Terry, who is a mechanical salesperson by profession. It has only been recently that he’s had “a yearning for my own Indigenous art.”
In March of this year, he created his first Indigenous piece titled “Chinook Salmon.”
“I posted it on my Instagram and Facebook page and all of a sudden I had people asking to purchase a signed copy.”
As a knowledge-carrier, his sister Viola helps him with questions pertaining to the images he creates.
“One can't just throw something down on paper, add pretty colours and hope that people will like and will want to buy it. Each piece I create, I need to be completely immersed in the real meaning behind it. I am an Ojibwe person by birth but I know very little about the Ojibwe culture or history because I grew up in foster homes and group homes run by non-Indigenous people for the most part.”
His hope is that his art sparks conversations about Indigenous issues both past and present.
Terry is researching his Ojibwe culture, which he said will be reflected in future pieces.
“I am looking forward to seeing what becomes of all this. It's a continued journey of discovery.” (source)