Not many years ago a young boy was given a shaker by a whaler. The whalers were a common sight in the area as the young boy grew up. They came every year at the same time. Over the years, the young boy befriended many of the whalers, as he was always interested in learning new things.
After befriending one particular whaler, who apparently had a son about the same age. On the next trip, the whaler brought a shaker/rattle with him. When he saw his young friend he gave it to him, because he knew the young boy had very little and would find it intriguing.
It so happens that this young boy was also the grandson of a very powerful and respected shaman. The young boy would always sit in the front to watch his grandfather as his grandfather performed the traditional song, with his drum, the song which helped his grandfather transform into the creatures he wished to seek.
The young boy was never one to disrespect the laws and traditional laws and traditions of his people. In fact, he wanted to be just like his grandfather. He wanted to connect with the animals and to try and understand them better.
He grew to be a young man - and was well-respected. He helped as many as the people of his community as he possibly could by catching fish, darting seals, and hunting caribou - and by sharing everything he caught. The people of the community were very appreciative of his kind deeds. Many would make him clothing when there were plenty of animals.
Over time, the young man had accumulated many things and he had made a box to hold them from all the scrap wood he ha found. One day while he was putting away some more newly-made kamiks (skin boots) when he came across the shaker that was given to him many years before.
Sitting and reflecting on his past, an idea came to him - maybe, just maybe, if he tried hard enough to sing the song his grandfather would sing when he was connecting with the animals, he maybe able to connect with one as well!
Excited by this idea, he set off with his shaker and started walking. He walked towards the sun to see where that would lead. After a long walk, and not seeing many animals with which he could try his song, he stopped and decided to have some dried salmon and tea. As he sat and ate his salmon and drank his tea, he looked around scanning the horizon. Off in the distance to the north, he noticed something…some kind of creature…a creature never seen in this area before.
The young man walked towards the creature, making sure to keep down-wind, so as not to to have his scent scare it off. When he got close enough to see what it was, at first he as puzzled. But then he remembered books in which he had seen pictures of this very creature. It was a muskox - and a creature that was a long way from it’s home.
The young man thought to himself, ” this must be a sign. ” and at that, he took out his shaker and began to shake it and to sing his grandfather’s song at the same time. His only thought was to connect and be able to become part of this creature - to feel it’s heart beat and to feel it’s strength.
Massie’s work is a reflection of his mixed Inuit, Métis and Scottish heritage. In it, he investigates both traditional and contemporary themes. He has achieved renown for his innovative teapots that combine themes and symbols from his native Inuit culture with European traditions. Massie has been twice short-listed for the coveted Prix Saidye Bronfman and has an extensive international reputation. His work has been shown in North America and Europe, including the National Gallery of Canada. He was elected a member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011.
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