Peter Morin and Janell Morin
Janell Morin is a Crow Clan Matriarch of the Tahltan Nation. Janell loves her Tahltan Culture and continues to be an active contributor to Tahltan Cultural Life/ways. She was trained in the culture by her Tahltan Elders. This was something that she prioritized in her home and in her life. At one point in her over 40-year career, she was the sole proprietor of JM Janitorial
Services; and for many years of her working history, she was a door-to-door salesperson selling Electrolux and Rainbow vacuum cleaners, water purifier systems, and pots and pans. Janell is the mother of four children – Robert, Cathleen, Nalaine, Peter. She met the love of her life Pierre Morin in Cassiar BC over 50 years ago, and they continue to walk together in this life. Didene K’eh Onye Edzūdzah (her name is Edzūdzah). She prioritized Tahltan culture in her home and in her life. She continues to be inspired by people and visiting.
Peter Morin is a Crow Clan member of the Tahltan Nation. He inherits these rights, responsibilities, and accountabilities from his mother Janell Morin. For over 20 years, Peter has worked as a performance artist, writer, thinker, curator, educator. This creative work has consistently been informed and shaped by the incredible efforts of his mom, Janell Morin. Didene K’eh EzekTah (his name is EzekTah). He was gifted this name by his Grandmother Dinah Creyke. Peter Morin works at OCADU, but his most important jobs are being a Son, a Brother, a Cousin, an Uncle, and a Community Member.
her name is Edzūdzah: Peter Morin and Janell Morin
My most important job is being a son. Our parents, Janell and Pierre, have worked so hard every day for us, their kids. Throughout my practice, I have been wanting to make something that honours my most important teachers like our Mom. Her name is the Tāhłtān language is Ezūdzah. She was gifted this name by Tāhłtān Elder Grandma Emma Brown. Our mom helped us, her kids, to know how powerful our Tahltan culture is. She helped us to know who we are in this world. She helped us to know our Elders. When we were younger, she would do all the driving to Telegraph Creek so that we could all be on our home territory together. She made sure we belong. She taught us to tell the truth and how to follow Tahltan protocols. Over the past 20 years, my artistic work has prioritized Tahltan ways of being as I’ve learned them from
our mom. This exhibition is my way of acknowledging her deep and important contributions to my practice and thinking. This exhibition is also a story about how Tahltan aesthetics and cultural power live inside all aspects of daily living.
This exhibition is also my chance to reflect on our Mom’s teachings and expert cultural practice. My earliest performances were inspired, and organized, based on how I watched her help at community feasts. This continues to this day when I welcome guests into the performance space. As I child, I watched our mom go to absolutely everyone in the funeral feast to say hi, to say something to make that person smile. She helped people to feel seen and loved. In some of the earliest works, I included washing (washing the walls, washing the floor) as a visual language because I loved that story of her washing her 11 brothers’ pants in the Stikine River, and because she used to clean rich people’s houses in Smithers BC to get extra money to buy her kids/nieces/nephews things that we wanted. I made the ‘World’s Largest Bannock’ (2005) because I would watch her make Bannock to feed us, and to feed guests who showed up at the house. I used her Bannock recipe to do this. she was going to be there with me but, last minute, couldn’t make it. When I made Peter Morin’s Museum, she came and gave a Tahltan Curator talk (2011). And together, she and I learned about button blanket making while sitting together to make a button blanket for our sister Nalaine for her graduation (2001). Every time I make a button blanket, our mother’s hands are involved because I learned to sew the button blankets with her. Our mom also introduced me to Billy Jack. We stumbled upon his movie one Sunday afternoon when we both lived in Smithers BC. she told me that Billy Jack was a half breed hero
who fought against injustice. This was important to me, and because of this I screened Billy Jack goes to Washington as a part of my Master’s Thesis exhibition called Circle (2010). She taught me to be passionate about good country music, and every time I sing a song during a performance, like when I sang Hello Darlin’ by Conway Twitty to the Totem Poles at the
Museum of Anthropology (2012), she was there with me in spirit.
I’m offering this story of a Tāhłtān Matriarch and Tāhłtān Art. I’m putting this story onto the walls of the Smither’s Art gallery so that we can stand inside of it together. This exhibition is my acknowledgment of our mother’s incredible strength, incredible courage, and incredible skill level. This story is also my offering to the Wet’suwet’en Territories and the Wet’suwet’en Nations who have walked with our mom during this lifetime. Our mom lives every day now in the Bulkley Lodge travelling along an Alzheimer’s journey. Our family continues to walk this road with her. It is my hope that we will witness and remember her strong contributions together. On September 15, I will be presenting a new performance art work to honour our mom’s continuing contributions to Tāhłtān Nation culture. This new performance is called She carried us to the territory.