A resident of Obedjiwan born in Senneterre in June 1966, Raymond is an exceptional artist who vividly depicts the traditional Atikamekw way of life and the wildness of the north. In his paintings, humans and wild animals are often represented as part of mosaics or cyclical patterns, such as the Atikamekw cycle of the six seasons. The people who appear in his works are usually Atikamekw or members of other First Nations. He’s known for his playful representation of animals and detailed depictions of the morphologies of fish, bird and mammal species. This modest, friendly man was chosen by the Royal Canadian Mint to illustrate a 5-oz gold coin in its “An Aboriginal Story” collection.
Raymond began teaching arts at the age of 18 as a substitute teacher. With the goal of obtaining his teaching license, he completed a university degree in visual arts at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and a degree in neurolinguistics at McGill University. He then worked full-time as a teacher until 2004. Since then, he has focused on his art and mentoring young artists while also doing some teaching work.
His art takes diverse forms, including acrylic paintings, murals, wood and moose antler sculptures, handcrafted objects related to fishing and hunting, totems and carved figures dressed in hides and clothing. A former student at a residential school in Mashteuiatsh, he was inspired by his grandparents and mother, who did various kinds of crafts including embroidery and making moccasins, bark baskets and birch-bark canoes. The artist’s imagination was also fired by the stories and oral histories told by his grandfather about the Atikamekw people, who lived a nomadic existence until the 1960s.
Interaction with nature is a vital element of Raymond’s creative life. He believes all living species have an indispensable role and a unique character. He often reflects on the vulnerability of ecosystems to the upheavals caused by human beings, whether it be the impact of climate change (milder winters, more snow, unpredictable weather patterns), the transformation of animal habitats or the decline in certain bird populations. He owes his passion for the wilderness to his grandfather, who brought the young boy on trips into the forest with him. Raymond took a different approach to sharing his values with youth: he was a hockey coach and volunteer at community hockey events.
His works have been acquired and exhibited by Quebec institutions. During a 2006 exhibition of his art in France, he was invited to the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2012. Raymond, who hopes to one day create large-scale landscape paintings, is one of several dozen leading indigenous Canadian artists represented by Norval Morrisseau, Frank Polson and Bill Reid. He would like to the visit the home region of the latter artist, who lives on Canada’s west coast, to draw inspiration from its majestic natural scenery and carved totems. Raymond also wants to convey his pride in being Atikamekw to young people, whom he encourages to respect the virtues of patience, commitment, hard work and, last but not least, living in harmony with nature.