The Suitcase: Intergenerational Healing through Traces of the Past
By Lyana Patrick & Ashli Akins

Exhibit Dates: December 8, 2016 – February 28, 2017. Stop by any time between 8am – 5pm, Monday – Friday.

After Lyana’s Gramma Aloo (gramma “mom” in Carrier) passed away, her parents gave her a suitcase containing materials she had used to make moccasins, gloves, and other items. Lyana couldn’t bear to look in the suitcase when they gave it to her, but finally opened it for the first time last summer – several years later. The suitcase contained hundreds of paper cut-outs of hands and feet. Lots of caribou cut-outs (Gramma Aloo’s clan). Tubes of beads. These cutouts represented the day-to-day life of a Carrier (Dakelh) woman from 1948 to 1998 (the period represented by the items) – her favourite Earl Grey tea boxes, cereal boxes, advertisements, a government cheque, even her son’s exercise book from residential school.

This exhibit takes us on a journey through Gramma Aloo’s life, and in doing so, has acted as a piece of Lyana’s healing journey as she learns more about her grandma’s life story. The multi-media exhibit includes photographs, cardboard cutouts, explorations of the exhibit’s themes of intergenerational healing and reconciliation through the written word, and an invitation for the viewer to actively respond.


Lyana Patrick is a member of the Stellat’en First Nation of the Carrier Nation in British Columbia. Lyana is a PhD candidate in UBC’s School of Community & Regional Planning, where she explores her interests in governance, history, health, and storytelling. She bridges the gaps between health, planning, and education through decolonizing research methodologies, Indigenous planning, transformation of pedagogical approaches in planning education, and the critical ways in which health and healing intersect with planning.

Ashli Akins is a PhD student at UBC’s Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program, combining the disciplines of law, anthropology, First Nations & Endangered Languages, and environmental studies to explore the role of arts to reclaim voice for historically marginalized populations. Her background lies in international development, NGO management, arts-based approaches to conflict resolution, and international human rights. She is an avid photographer, and has photographed and exhibited around the world.

Lyana and Ashli met through their shared interest in intergenerational memory, and the power they see in art to palatably convey the themes of collective memory, intergenerational knowledge transmission, and intergenerational storytelling in ways that are not exclusive to academic audiences, but instead that reach the hearts of community members in ways that provoke dialogue and inspire questions. Both Lyana and Ashli are Liu Scholars at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, Public Scholars in UBC’s Public Scholars Initiative, and recipients of the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Lyana and Ashli are co-curators and writers of the exhibit. Ashli is the exhibit photographer and Lyana is the poet, sharing some of her written words throughout.