HIHTK Episode 015: “Cultural Education and Giving Back”-Diana Frost

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Diana Frost’s mission is to share First Nations culture and spirituality. The goal is to foster reconciliation and help indigenous and non-indigenous to better understand and appreciate each other.

Indigenous Art In Education

There aren’t a lot of Indigenous culture resources available for students. Diana says it’s important to get kids excited about indigenous art and language. Exposure to art, stories, and history leads to appreciation, naturally.

Who is Diana Frost?

Diana Frost is from Sherbrooke, Quebec. She is Metis. Her background, beliefs and life are diverse.
Diana’s parents raised her in the Bahai faith. She was born in Quebec, but she later relocated to Gabon, Africa. Her micro-biologist father moved there to set up a research station. So, Diana spent her teen years in Gabon.
When she returned to Canada for University she studied chemical engineering. She worked as a water engineer for over 20 years in South America. Diana started to question her work every time she boarded a plane. She asked herself why travel so far to help other people when Indigenous people in Canada need help?
Diana’s mother and uncles grew up in residential schools. Her mother was 8 years old when the government took her from her parents. Diana’s uncles went with the priests and her mother went with the nuns. They never returned back home. The goal of the government sponsored residential schools was to assimilate indigenous culture into Euro-Canadian culture. Because of this many indigenous peoples have since lost their culture and language. Due to this upbringing, Diana’s mother felt being First Nations was something shameful. To this day the ripple effects of the residential school affect them. The connection with her mother is not easy. Her uncle has suffered with mental illness since he left the school. Her other uncle became a member of the FLQ–a militant part of the Quebec sovereignty movement.
When Diana was a young girl her mother told her that she is First Nations but did not know which nation she belonged to. Through genealogy study Diana found out that her ancestry is Algonquin. She felt a need to look for others but had a hard time meeting other indigenous people until she moved to Alberta.

Reconciliation and Understanding Project

Diana has been on a journey to reconnect with her roots and support reconciliation. This has brought her to her current business project–Colouring It Forward. She said the idea came to her in a dream. Diana wants more material about the wonderful parts of indigenous life. So much of the material now talks only about the sadness and hurt of indigenous history. But true reconciliation comes from a place of love. That is Diana’s project. To share the beauty and healing of indigenous culture through art.

Colouring It Forward

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Diana is not only an engineer but also a portrait artist. She wanted to create a separate business and was looking for ideas but couldn’t find what she wanted to do. One day she woke up from a dream. In the dream she made a series of adult colouring books that featured indigenous artists. The books also brought the knowledge of elders in for authenticity. When she woke she knew exactly what to do–make a beautiful thing that honours culture and gives back. That was the start of Colouring It Forward. With each sale she gives a part of the proceeds to indigenous community projects. The work is growing and she is being asked to create further educational materials.

The Artists

Michael Fatt                          Ryan Jason Allen Willert       Christiana Latham

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Kalum Teke Dan

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Diana knew she wanted to create the colouring books but did not want to do the art herself. She wanted to feature the art of First Nations artist but didn’t know any. She reached out to someone she knew from the Moonstone Creation Gallery. At that time the gallery had an artist that was exhibiting there and they invited Diana to come and take a look. The artist was Michael Fatt. He was having a hard time selling his artwork and was new to the city. Diana and Michael connected and decided to set up a booth at a market to help him sell his work. By this time she had met another artist- Kallum Teke Dan – and she asked if he would help Michael Fatt. They both became her featured artists for her Blackfoot Nation book. That was the beginning. 

What We Can Do

For Diana, the Bahai faith of her parents encourages the unity of diversity. It set the foundation for her life beliefs. Her number one belief is that people can do it for themselves. She loves when others see that they can be their own creators. When they have the ability to do things for themselves. She wants that for Indigenous peoples. It starts with the individual. Take back the power to make change for yourself. 
Why does she support reconciliation? Because of the beauty we can gain as a culture and country.  Reconciliation will not come if we stay in a place of negativity, guilt and shame. There are many things that we can do to encourage connection and reconciliation. 
  • Try and do things that build relationships. Build friendships.
  • Set up more communication between indigenous and non indigenous children. 
If parents and teachers take these actions, there is power in that. We need to build the community. That takes courage.

New Projects

Diana now plans to offer a wider diversity of artists from across Canada.
Language revitalization is a focus for her. Many indigenous language speakers are passing away. She wants to find ways to motivate young people to learn and use indigenous language. One unique concept she’s seen is an animated film for children in the Blackfoot language.
She is creating a Cree colouring book and hopes to add an audio element in the indigenous language.
Where to Find Her:
Instagram: @colouritforward
Twitter: @colouritforward
Latest Projects:
Indigenous Christmas Card Box Set (One dollar from every box sold goes towards nutrition programs on reserves )

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