This dream catcher, which hangs on the east wall of Osgoode’s Office of Admissions and Student Services, was created in 2004 by Nak’azdli First Nation artist Darlene Isaac-Downey.
A friend of Isaac-Downey’s – Ramona Sutherland ’04 – connected the artist with the Law School, which was looking for an authentic Indigenous arts and crafts piece to serve as a welcoming focal point at the entrance to the Admissions office.
Isaac-Downey, who works full-time at a financial institution, finds “peace and serenity” in creating one-of-a-kind artwork that generally consists of acrylic on canvas, drums, paddles or leather.
“The dream catcher is usually hung where the person sleeps,” Isaac-Downey says. “All of our dreams are caught in the webbing and in the morning when we wake, the bad dreams are burned off with the morning sun and the good ones are filtered down to the feathers to be re-dreamed.”
There are various meanings for the four colours – white, yellow, red and black – used in Isaac-Downey’s dream catcher. Some artists use the four colours to depict the four seasons (spring, summer, fall and winter) or the four directions (north, west, south and east), for example.
“I use the four colours to teach unity and anti-racism,” Isaac-Downey says. “The circle I painted in the middle of the leather is referred to as Unity. The four colours represent the colour of our skin. White is for the white man; yellow is for the Asian; black is for the Afro-American and red is for the Aboriginal/Indigenous people. The circle represents the wholeness and unity of the four races. The circle is unbroken and all of equal size to show that all people are equal and no race is superior to another. There is no beginning and no end and they all meet in the middle to create unity.”