To the Editor:

In a weekend that was touched by inspiration, light and truth – and the Feminine Divine – I was struck by how things are changing in our beautiful village of Vankleek Hill. I have not been here long – only three years – and from the start I was inspired by this magical community.

To this day, I am in awe of the changes that are slowly bringing even more light to this community. This weekend at the Arbor Gallery, we had the honour and immense pleasure of welcoming two strong and gifted storytellers, Nathalie Coutou and Lynne Hanson. Each one shared her truth using her own talent and gift: one a visual artist and teacher, storyteller passionate about reconciliation between her own Indigenous culture and non-Indigenous people; the other a poet, singer-songwriter, whose songs touch the heart and speak of life. Both these women spoke of a higher source, Ether and Sky Spirits; both spoke of connection between humans, and love.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of the giants who preceded us on the multiple iterations of the Arbor Gallery boards – from Phil Arber to present. It is wonderful to see how welcoming this community is to newcomers – from cities, from other countries, refugees and more. This inclusiveness is one of its greatest strengths; it is with new eyes that we can see and create things that are new. The upcoming generation also inspires me. They are wide-eyed and so sensitive to justice, respect and bringing us to the next levels of reconciliation and inclusiveness.

This is why I wanted to take a moment to express my personal gratitude, as president of the gallery’s board of directors and as a member of this community. Thank you to all our gallery friends. Thank you to our volunteers who help maintain us alive and well. Thank you to the new student volunteers who will help build a succession. Thank you to all local merchants who have helped us and are always so ready to lend us a hand, often exceeding our expectations and wishes. Thank you to all of you who open your mind and heart to others – I sincerely wish that through our own gift of art and culture, and with your help, we can continue to contribute to build awareness, to break prejudice and racism, to make this society a better world.

Sylvie Bouchard,
President of the Board, Arbor Gallery Cultural Centre
Vankleek Hill