Students Draws on Métis Heritage for Award-winning PaintingKelly Duquette and her award-winning painting.

Kelly Duquette, a grade 12 student in Atikokan, and granddaughter of Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Atikokan and Area Métis Council Marlene Davidson, is the proud recipient of an Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) Student Achievement Award. The theme of this year’s prose, poetry, visual arts, and audio/visual animation competition was, “The right to speak, the responsibility to listen”.

The federation accepts student entries that are sponsored by their teachers. Kelly chose to depict the “seven sacred teachings” (love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth) in acrylics. Her painting is titled, “Disconnected” and shows an Elder passing the teachings to a youth; each of the teachings is represented by a different animal. However, the “disconnected” youth, lost in the world of his laptop, does not realize what is going on.

Drawing people and working in acrylics were a big change for Kelly who usually painted animals and scenery in watercolours. Her change of medium was inspired by her mother, artist Kristy Cameron as well as by Kelly’s decision to celebrate her connection to her Métis heritage,

Since her success, Kelly has completed two other acrylic paintings in the “Aboriginal style” as part of her portfolio for university applications. She has applied to various visual arts programs, but as a high school student who has never taken an art class, because art programs were cut from the curriculum, she finds herself with no graded projects, and assembling a portfolio has been an intimidating task. The fact remains that Kelly won in the Rainy River school board district, and then at the northwestern Ontario regional level and she is one of only four senior students across the province recognized in the “Senior Visual Arts” category of the 27th annual awards.