Jewels of the Northwest

JEWELS OF THE NORTHWEST: Northwest Territories by Kiernan Antares | Acrylic on 24″ X 30″ Gallery Wood Panel | #17P-002-125-BW


Artwork Statement

This project began with an intention to contribute good will into the world, but as I move more and more into it, I am reminded that one of the things that was a part of me from when I was a little girl, was to go into the stillness, the silence and to sense, listen and feel the presence of God in all things.

The sun, the moon, the stars, the land; the rivers and creeks I walked and listened to, the lakes and oceans I would swim in or watch the ripples and tides, the trees and leaves that whisper in their steadfast presence… everything would connect and fill me somehow.

And, even though I am connecting virtually across Canada’s nation, I can still listen, feel, and sense the spirit of the place… then paint and write the impressions that come. So, now it seems to me that it is not I contributing to the energy, but simply being an interpreter… bringing forth the beauty, power, wisdom, love and grace of our Creator and the LAND-SEA-SKY.

Jewels of the Northwest—an abstract representation of the crown jewels of the Canadian arctic—the kingdom of the mountains, the Northern Lights, the Land of the Midnight Sun, and the ancient teachings of the One Drum. Canada’s wilderness, so majestic, powerful, and untameable, that it commands its own authority.

The Northwest Territories, where Canada’s largest river, Deh Cho (Mackenzie), weaves through an empire of peaks, I came to think of as giants sheltering the ancient ways with their broad shoulders. A land where the Aurora Borealis can be seen 250 days out of the year and herds of caribou darken the horizon. Where lakes are ocean-sized, polar bears roar and great whales spout. A land where people walk paths that connect them to the beat of the one heart, richer than the modern world can know.

My days of research and virtual explorations reveal that a visit to the Northwest Territories is a different sort of journey—more like a pilgrimage, an out-of-world and out-of-body experience, where you can walk the paths firmly anchored in the ancient earth and return forever changed.

Think…remote…sprawling…storybook landscape with tundra, ice, stone and water, forests and barren lands, big rivers, big mountains, and rugged islands, creating a unique pioneer culture. Travel is often by bush planes, dogsleds, or rafts. And, where ice castles and igloos are not uncommon to behold.

The Northwest Territories, while larger than all but a handful of sovereign nations, is home to only 44,000 people, half of which are Aborginal. First here were the Dene, who’ve roamed the boreal forest for millennia.

“The word “Dene”, when translated, is broken down into two words, “De” meaning flow and “Ne” meaning Mother Earth. This encompasses an understanding that we as Dene people flow from Mother Earth and we are a people of the Creator and Creation. While there are many distinct regional groups, each with their own territory and dialect, all Dene share a common ancestry and come from the same language family.

In the Northwest Territories, there are 5 regions, which make up what is known as “Denendeh” which means “the Creator’s Spirit flows through this Land”. The Dene have always lived in harmony with the land and their respect and knowledge for the land has allowed them to thrive in one of the most demanding environments on the planet. “

~ The People of the Deh Cho


“There was a time when it was believed that everyone was the same – animals, birds and humans. It was believed that a creature or human could change from animal to bird, human to animal, bird to animal. It was also believed that with the change, animals and birds had the power to speak”. ~ Edward Nazon


For years, my life experiences and creative endeavours have been teaching me about Living in Harmony with all there is, and all my art contains nuances reflecting this message from our ancestors.

In the rugged wilderness of the Northwest, living in harmony with the land and all its energy is a must.
“Dene history, legends and lifeways are woven into the Northern landscape. As you travel, you’ll encounter place names that are rich and resonant, from Tsátłį́ęhgotsee (“lake where there is a lot of beaver”) to Nich’itkat Jàł K’ìt (“girls jiggling place,” where women jiggled bone hooks on string to catch fish in the fall). Pay attention and you’ll realize Denendeh is not a frontier or a wasteland but a long-inhabited homeland, where every hill and river-bend holds a different human story.” ~

Oh to actually sit in circle with the elders of the Dene… to listen to their stories… to close my eyes and be transported to the visions appearing in my mind’s eye as the sun comes up and the legends become real, dogs barking echo in the distance… and shadows dance around us.

A Message from this Painting

Deep deep inside there lives an arrow master who knows the mark, when it is in range, and when to shoot for the stars from the full force of the bow. The winds may take the arrow where it will, but with a mind and heart aligned with spirit, a target will be reached.

In the lands of the ancient giants, the ancestors, the rhythms, stories and wisdom of Denendeh ring out across the sprawling worlds, to reach the ones who long to weave a new tapestry of legends.

Jewels of the Northwest—on a good clear night when the moon is right, you’ll see that light shining up the frozen crystals dancing on the rocks—in this place of the arctic tundra, I imagine, on a mountain peak there exists an ice castle hidden from the rest of the world where one can glean the riches of the ancients. Can you imagine it too?