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Paul Kane Watercolour - Ojibwe Cermonial Drum
Painted Cree Frame Drum
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April 30, 2006 - Interview with Kathy Denny

Interviewer: Trudy Sable
Place: Eskasoni, Cape Breton,

TS:   Can you tell me your name and where you are from?

image KD:   Iím Kathy Denny. Iím from Eskasoni.

TS:   How did you learn to dance?

KD:   The late Sarah Denny, my mother, was taught traditional song and dance by her great
grandmother. She passed it on to my mother and my mother wanted us to experience that. We werenít afraid of the stage and she let us do what we wanted to do, lip-synching to songs and Indian Dancing. It helped us with our self esteem as we were growing up. I enjoy entertaining and passing on our culture.

TS:   You also paint regalia. How did you come to start doing that?

KD:   When I was 10 years old my mother sent me off to arts class. I started with oils and as I got
faster at mixing colours and getting them on canvas I switched to acrylics. Then I started helping my older sister with painting regalia. I helped the first time when we had to dance at the Canada Games. Now my cousin Madonna Johnson, she makes the regalia, and she gets me to paint the designs.

TS:  Where do you get your inspiration from?

KD:   I used to take pictures of animals. And I would use the images of the animals I see and
paint them with Miíkmaq colours, red ochre, yellow ochre, white and black or blue.  Incorporate the old ways and the new into one; that is what I am trying to do.  I usually use images like the Kejimekoujik petroglyphs on our regalia. We are trying to revive all that tradition, so that people can see and learn.

TS:   Do dancers sometimes ask you for specific designs?

KD:   When people ask me to paint their regalia I ask them what they envision, what kind of a
  figure they want.  I try to find out what is their spirit, and represent that in what I paint.

TS:   What would you like to say to people who see your group dancing?

KD:   When you see us dancing, come and join us. We are happy and willing to help everybody

TS:   Thank you Kathy.

   * * *

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This project was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through Canadian Culture Online

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