An Emily Carr University of Art + Design grad drew inspiration from her Indigenous grandmother to use animation to raise awareness about threats to wild salmon.
Frankie McDonald‘s short film, “Láwa7″, is being shown on the outdoor Urban Screen at the university campus at 520 East 1st Avenue in Vancouver.
McDonald loosely based the lead character, Nahani, on environmental activist Ethel “Stelomethet” Gardner. The Stó:lō member of the Skwah First Nation died in 2020.
“She never let anything hold her back from accomplishing everything that she did,” McDonald said in an ECUAD news release. “She was well-educated and fearless and that’s what really inspires me about her.”
In the film, a magical salmon named Láwa7 transforms Nahani into a fish. This enables her to she experience what these creatures must endure as they move up a river.
McDonald transforms traditional Northwest Coast formline art into a 3-D format to demonstrate how wild salmon face threats from sea lice, trash, and oil spills. ECUAD’s associate director of Aboriginal programs, artist and designer Connie Watts, narrates “Láwa7”.
Watch the short animated film “Láwa7”.
Libby Leshgold Gallery presents the film
“I felt that I needed to spread the message that we need to protect the wild salmon if we want to keep them from becoming extinct,” McDonald said. “I want to shine a light on the struggles the wild salmon go through. It’s not something people think about every day, and I want to bring awareness to what pollution, fish farms and pipelines do to our salmon population.”
The Libby Leshgold Gallery at Emily Carr University is presenting the film as part of the City of Vancouver’s public art program. (Pancouver recently published an article about the gallery’s new curator, Vanessa Kwan.)
McDonald also uses animation to teach the St’át’imc language to young people through a series called St’át’imc with Kaya.
On November 17 from 3:30 to 5 p.m., McDonald will join Watts at a free artist talk in the Aboriginal Gathering Place at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.