Home » Arts of Conversation » Seasons for Rita

Seasons for Rita

Sharon Heading

Elder Rita Marten

Visual Arts — 8″ x 8″ birch on birch panel


Seasons For Rita is a mixed media piece on birch bark mounted on a birch panel. When I spoke to Rita she had a very positive attitude about her life and her love of the land was clear in every conversation. She loves the seasons and the different activities that come from the land with each season. She talked about living in large white tent that was made by her mother. They stayed there until it was too cold and her family then moved into a winter cabin. When she attended the residential school in Fort Chipewyan, her mum would make her a new pair of moccasins to start each school year. They would be taken from her when she arrived at school and locked in a cupboard until the end of the school year.

Each year she proudly makes a pair of moccasins for her grandson to wear for the Rock your Mocs program at his school. It is a wonderful way to keep him in touch with his heritage.

After listening to Rita’s story and her love of the land and the seasons, I created Seasons for Rita. The background is the familiar view of the Athabasca Delta that can be seen from the shore in Fort Chipewyan. The four birch bark cut-outs represent the four seasons. The beads represent Rita’s life through the seasons. The tiny moccasins represent her culture that can now be proudly on display.

It was an absolute pleasure meeting Rita on the phone. I look forward to meeting her in person and continuing to get to know her once this pandemic is over.