Kids standing in solidarity with First Nations, Inuit and Metis children
The best led crusade may just be a children’s crusade because today on Parliament Hill small but mighty voices were articulate in their demands for Harper to “have a heart” with regards to issues around education improvements for Aboriginal children.
From the voices of babes.
One wee one said “I am just in Grade 3 but I know the difference between right and wrong.” She continued by saying “Mr. Harper, you spend money on silly things like rockets that don’t fly.” Enough said.
And don’t think that these kids are buying it regarding the First Nations Education Act. They get it that a one-size-fits-all education system and dollars handed out with conditions attached doesn’t translate into equitable and culturally based education. They could probably put a lot of MPs to shame with their proper pronunciation of Anishinaabe and knowing that Turtle Island refers to the original name for the continent that the governments of Canada and America now occupy.
“Stephen Harper, we’ve got some homework for you, make our Canada a better place for FN education”
It means nothing if it’s not true.
These kids stood up under the shadow of the Parliament Buildings and spoke to the fact that the National Narrative of an inclusive society that respects human rights falls apart when you look at the Canadian government’s past and present relations with Indigenous Canada.
Kids from all backgrounds – Somali, East Asian, Palestinian, European – showed up and represented.
These kids get it. And on a cold, winter’s day it is what warms your heart!
“The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society stands with First Nations children, youth, and families for equal opportunities to succeed.
Using a reconciliation framework that respectfully engages First Nation and non-Aboriginal peoples, the Caring Society provides high quality resources to support First Nations communities to empower children, youth and families. The award-winning Caring Society is proud to work with our partners in Canada and around the world to promote the rights of Indigenous children, youth and families.” For more information on their services visit their website.
When one of my favourite Quebec Designers, Tat Chao, introduced me to the work of Basma Osama (Ceramik B.) and Marie-José Gustave I was struck by how loyal they both were to their material of choice. These women are faithful to their muse!
Basma’s silky white work is easy on the eyes. Her bowls,cups and dishes evoke a handsome elegance which I am sure makes the food caressed inside look all the more tantalizing. But the real stunner is her piece The Letter No. 1. Assembled with over 1000 pieces of hand-thrown porcelain it is without comparison!
“Inspired from a handwritten personal letter, Letter No. 1 carries a language that goes beyond visual perception. The elements of this language aim to reach, to call out to the reader and invite interaction. Emotions and thoughts come through two simultaneous rhythms: a linear rhythm, punctuated by spaces that allow the content of this letter to physically place itself. And the rhythm of curves, unique to each element, give each sign its meaning, as words often do. The shapes of these organic elements, coming out of the wooden support, act as the conveyors of meaning. The support, made of local walnut wood, supports the text and underlines it as a language sign.”
Basma was lead to porcelain because of a need to “work with a refined type of clay” as well as desire to “submit to its whimsical character.” Her loyalty to porcelain? “Because I love it! I meticulously craft it and work on its texture, and it gives it back, every time!” Her muse is as faithful to her as she is to it!
When asked what is special about this material as opposed to other materials she has worked with she replies “I like its texture, its density, its colour, the way it behaves in the kiln…and the way it reasserts how humble I have to remain when I use it.”
And when I inquire if there is a romance she has with the material she emphatically answers “Yes, a huge one! One of many years, many events, many stories and I would not exchange it for any other clay!”
Beautifully blurring craft and design.
Marie-José Gustave’s objects and furniture merge design with craft. She says that she has always been inspired by and has a passion for craft. This led her to master in clothing production as well as to develop a skill set that includes sewing, knitting, and weaving along with paper molding. But her love affair with cardboard came from a more practical encounter. Upon moving to Quebec from France and wondering what to do with all the boxes that remained as evidence of her transition she began to experiment with the material that had now taken up residency in her new home. The boxes never left and instead motivated her to create what is now a strong body of work that shows the beauty of this humble material.
I have always adored the textural richness of cardboard. I have used it in my own art practice so it makes sense that I would gravitate to Marie-José‘s work but what I found fresh was the way she manipulated the cardboard. That is what ultimately seduced me. She has taken this material to another level and has prototyped a new way of thinking about cardboard as a valid choice of material for decor and design. “I love the challenge of diverting the material to make it soft and flexible, find its transparency, shape it the way I want.” She definitely has a lover’s touch!
Polar opposites in the continuum of contemporary art.
Beat NationandOne, and Two, and More Than Two lie at the contradictory ends of Contemporary Canadian Art and within Micah Lexier’s One, and Two, and More Than Two show more contractions occur. In his video piece and Two refuse is moved around on a clean slate. This is Micah’s collection of cardboard cast-offs that he has curated based on similarities. He carefully choreographs the debris. This is my favourite work in the show. I will miss its precise impreciseness.
Image of Micah Lexier and Two courtesy The Power Plant.
In and More Than Two Micah has gathered together a slice of Toronto’s art community. He visited the studios of over 100 artists working in Toronto and took something from each place. The controversy with this collection is around the issue of whether it is a proper survey of Toronto’s current art scene as it is a selection of predominantly white artists. And More Than Two is the antithesis of how most people regard Toronto – the quintessential Multi Culti city. And for all the material diversity encased in the vitrines the process of categorization renders the work even more homogenous. And More Than Two seems less about diversity and collaboration and more about curation based on a chosen aesthetic. Regardless, the effect is stunning.
Micah’s way of organizing randomness carries over into his own solo work One where what seems like an arbitrary selection of his work notes becomes contained within the even flow of frames spaced without pause across four walls.
Without a doubt this entire show is visually impactful. It is ordered disorder, asymmetrical symmetry, and the visual polarization of black juxtaposed with an abundance of white space. The immediate evaluation tends to be that this exhibit reads as sterile but upon closer inspection it is anything but. What I notice about this show is it slows people down as they meander through the vitrines and then onto the other rooms all the while mesmerized. People stop to take a long look because as you walk through it you get the sense that each object, each page, each cardboard cutout has been chosen with reverence. And therein lies the warmth.
The content of Beat Nation (also at the Power Plant earlier this year) brings us to the intersection where the choice around aesthetics is motivated by agency – a re-mixing of the conscience soul of Hip Hop as applied to the right to embody one’s Indigeneity in a contemporary context.
“Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture describes a generation of artists who juxtapose urban culture with Aboriginal identity to create innovative and unexpected new works that reflect the realities of Aboriginal peoples today.” read more…
This show is also about a multi-layered experience using music, dance, and mixed media to indigenize the white cube gallery space.
Beat Nation is an example of another beautiful show that challenges what is contemporary Canadian Art. Originally an online exhibition, it has been hugely successful as it has traveled back and forth across the country at various venues. Each iteration of the show brings in a new arrangement of artists with the MACM show including the following:
Both of these exhibits showcase how Canadian Art is coming into its own a powerful contemporary voice.
ONE, AND TWO, AND MORE THAN TWO
The Power Plant 231 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2G8
Tuesday–Sunday 10–5 PM
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
185 Rue Ste-Catherine Ouest, Montréal, QC, H2X 3X5
Tuesday to Sunday: from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
RECOMMENDED READING Museum Pieces: Toward the Indigenization of Canadian Museums
“Ruth Phillips argues that these practices are “indigenous” not only because they originate in Aboriginal activism but because they draw on a distinctively Canadian preference for compromise and tolerance for ambiguity. Phillips dissects seminal exhibitions of Indigenous art to show how changes in display, curatorial voice, and authority stem from broad social, economic, and political forces outside the museum and moves beyond Canadian institutions and practices to discuss historically interrelated developments and exhibitions in the United States, Britain, Australia, and elsewhere.” Read more…
Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space
“….O’Doherty was the first to explicitly confront a particular crisis in postwar art as he sought to examine the assumptions on which the modern commercial and museum gallery was based. Concerned with the complex and sophisticated relationship between economics, social context, and aesthetics as represented in the contested space of the art gallery, he raises the question of how artists must construe their work in relation to the gallery space and system.” Read more…
Beat Nation artist Geronimo Inutiq (madeskimo), curator Candice Hopkins and Beat Nation artist Dylan Miner speak on moving between the past and the present in contemporary Indigenous art in Canada and America.
At the start of last year MIXED BAG MAG proclaimed 2013 to be “The Year of the Artist” and from what was encountered this year in the galleries, festivals and on the street it was! So many of the incredibly talented people I know started to come into their own and express that they felt something shift for the better. At this time last year I quoted Marshall McLuhan as saying:
“The job of the artist is to upset all the senses and thus provide new vision and new powers of adjusting to and relating to new situations.”
I witnessed a lot of artists doing this throughout the year. The result was the cards of truth were laid out on the table. Bullies were exposed and cultural provocateurs got down to the healing work.
This year, with all the progress made, it’s now time to put our energies into fully shut down the bully for good whether it is the bully in your own family, your place of work or your government.
In 2013, as a global community, we witnessed the Assad regime in Syria using chemical weapons to poison even the smallest of souls; we witnessed India taking a massive step backwards and re-criminalizing homosexuality and in Canada our own government used the RCMP to push people around on their own land on (#Elsipogtog).
We also witnessed an entire city being held hostage by a Mayor whose moral compass is broken beyond repair. But what do we do? We encourage the behavior through the mechanism of the spectacle. Reality television as well as social media has turned bullying into our entertainment.
Instead we need to build societies that have mechanisms of protection for the ones who are getting the life kicked out of them.
A small but mighty action is to take the time to notice when someone is being hurt and then make the move to stand along beside them rather than have the expectation that the person or that community should fight the battle alone without outside support. We can work together on this.
MIXED BAG MAG wishes everyone an uplifting New Year!
Let’s Foster a Society That Supports The Emotional, Spiritual & Mental Health of Those Who Return From War.
PTSD. – this dis-ease sticks to the inside of your brain like a thick glue clogging neural pathways. Anyone who suffers from it knows that sometimes, without any conscious cue, the primal brain fires off, short circuiting your waking intelligence. The amygdala takes over and runs the show, telling you what to think and how to react, even if it isn’t in accordance with logic that suits the context.
The smell of fear seeps through your pours and gets into your clothes. Within time though the smell fades but unless you have support and the tools to help the fear doesn’t. Often it even increases.
I come from a long line of Pacifists and a community with the anchoring spiritual belief that one does not bear arms in service of any government so I don’t accept war as a solution. But I also don’t accept a situation where soldiers come back from war to arrive home unsupported by the government that put them there.
Women and men who are left without pathways to healing are women and men who will go on to live only half-lives, who won’t become fully functioning parents and will have a higher risk of becoming abusers even if given a different trajectory in life they would have been nurturing mothers and fathers.
Historically Canada has failed the Aboriginal Veterans who have sacrificed in service of this country and now the current government has cut life-long pensions to those injured in war in favour of one-time pay outs. This leaves the broken members of our community vulnerable and in a time when we understand the role Post-traumatic Stress Disorder plays in family legacies this makes no moral or common sense.
How you can help!
I belong to Change.org an organization that allows you to sign online petitions in an effort to work towards change. Below is the petition came through last week and I think it’s important on Remembrance Day to reflect on the fact that war, and how it impacts Canadian families, is not a past issue, it’s a current one.
“When a Canadian enlists, they are promised that if they are injured or killed in service, then Canada will take care of them and their loved ones. This social contract is our sacred obligation to those who serve. We Canadians must defend it.In 1917, Prime Minster Robert Borden made that commitment as Canadians soldiers were about to attack Vimy Ridge. It has been repeatedly confirmed for almost a century. But today, our Government is denying the existence of this social contract, declaring it is not bound by commitments made by previous governments, and refusing the responsibility we owe to those who put their lives on the line for us.Our Government has severely reduced the amount of financial support given to disabled veterans, putting many wounded veterans in dire financial situations. Before 2006, disabled veterans were given a pension to that would support them throughout their lives. Today, they are given a lump sum for their pain and the Canadian Government wipes their hands of them. For a severely disabled veteran, this can mean 40% less than what they would have received under the old pension plan, or even up to 90% less than what other Canadian workers would receive for the same injuries.A group of veterans are suing the Canadian Government over the lump-sum disability payment (see http://equitassociety.ca/ ). In defence, Government lawyers have argued that Canada has no obligation to veterans or serving members of the Canadian Forces or RCMP, beyond that owed to an average citizen.We Citizens know better. We know the social contract exists and that we are morally, ethically, socially, and legally obligated to care for veterans and their survivors.Please sign this petition and tell our Government that we must take care of those who have served.”
Images above and below from the Service for Aboriginal Veterans at the Aboriginal War Memorial in Ottawa and The National Remembrance Day Ceremony. To all those past & presently serving in the hopes to create a more just and safe world –
Thank You, Merci, Miigwetch
All above photography by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
Âhasiw Maskegon-Iskwew, isi-pîkiskwêwin-ayapihkêsîsak (Speaking the Language of Spiders), Website, 1994, screen capture courtesy of ImagineNATIVE.
It’s a great feeling to be in a crowded room and seeing that you are surrounded by people whose passion is making this world a more equitable and empathetic place. This is the first year that ImagineNATIVE has included an Art Crawl as part of its programming and judging by the large turnout it was a good call! Partnering with some of the galleries and artist-run-centres at 401 Richmond (also where ImagineNATIVE is located) Friday’s event was about “featuring contemporary Aboriginal new media art, commissions and retrospectives and artist talks by curators and attending artists.”
On left, curator Jimmy Elwood. On right, Executive Director of ImagineNATIVE Jason Ryle.
Love Sick Child at A Space
The crawl began at A Space with Love Sick Child curated by Jimmy Elwood and featuring the work of ÂhasiwMaskegon-Iskwew along with Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Adrian Stimson and Leslie McCue. Leslie’s work was particularly poignant. She explains that the piece was based around an Anishinaabe saying “Make your words as sweet as strawberries.” Poised above a rock secured behind plexi-glass is a funnel of strawberry juice that slowly drips over the stone the duration of the exhibit causing it to become the colour of berries / the colour of blood. The audience is invited to talk into a microphone and speak words to the rock. The words can be thoughtful or thoughtless, kind or angry. Leslie explains that the rock, like our bones, forever holds the energetic vibrations of the words. When asked how one can tell if people are speaking positive or negative words to the rock she says you can’t. The blood red juice drips regardless and like verbal abuse one won’t see the direct impact of the words.
Artist Leslie McCue in front of her work.
Photography by Tyler Hagan courtesy of ImagineNATIVE.
In The Similkameen / Similkameen Crossroads at Gallery 44
Another moving work is “In The Similkameen / Similkameen Crossroads” by Tyler Hagen at Gallery 44. This exhibit is part of an NFB web documentary which can be viewed at nfb.ca/crossroads.
“It’s a highly personal undertaking for Hagan, who, since obtaining his Métis citizenship, has struggled to reconcile his suburban Christian upbringing with the blighted history of the church in Indigenous communities.”
Left to right artist Tyler Hagan, Noa Bronstein of Gallery 44 and Daniel Northway-Frank of ImagineNATIVE.
Photography by Nigit’stil Norbert courtesy of ImagineNATIVE.
“Trade Marks presents a new generation of Indigenous artists who, through newly commissioned photographic, video and audio works, challenge working assumptions of who they are. The exhibition contributes to the recently revived conversation on what it is to be Indigenous in Canada today. It also considers how these artists have responded to the imposition of Western systems of classification on non-Western arts and how their artistic practices have been informed by methodologies of decolonization.”
Top image: artist Keesic Douglas speaking about his work. Bottom images: Curator Julie Nagam and artist Lisa Reihana. Artist Bear Witness at Prefix Gallery.
Lisa Reihana speaking about her work “in Pursuit of Venus” at A Space Gallery.
in The Pursuit of Venus back at A Space
The finale of the Art Crawl was the incredible work “in Pursuit of Venus” by Maori artist Lisa Reihana and curated by Julie Nagam.
“The video is inspired by the colonial 19thcentury panoramic wallpaper Les sauvages de la merPacifique(180405) which features European impressions of Indigenous South Pacific Islanders from accounts from Captain Cook’s and Louis de Bougainville’s journals, and reworked engravings by Webber and Hodges. Reihana explains that Les sauvages claims to be historical and is presented as such, when in actuality the wallpaper’s creators harvested information from different historical moments and relocated the bodies into a fictional Tahitian landscape, removing these Pacific people from their cultural, historical and political reality. In this work Reihana has restaged, reimagined and reclaimed the panoramic wallpaper by altering its original presentation of print form to liveaction video. She has brought each character alive with breathtaking precision of Maori and Pacific cultural practices and embodied knowledge. Each person on the screen resists the colonial misrepresentations of the past and present encounters with Indigenous people across the globe. Reihana’sin Pursuit of Venus is a live-action masterwork that unbinds the shackles of colonialism by producing a highly refined and dynamic video that brings forth visual poetics of Maori and Pacific cultures and knowledge.”
“in Pursuit of Venus” by Lisa Reihana courtesy of ImagineNATIVE.
If you missed out on last night you can still see these important shows tomorrow, ImagineNATIVE’s last day as well as in the weeks to come.
“The government wants an extractive economy and that will kill us all.”
Mi’kmaq laywer, Pamela Palmater gave a powerful talk a week ago today as part of Idle No More’s #Oct7Proclaim Global Day of Action and Ryerson University’s Annual Social Justice Week events. As she puts it, the Idle No More Movement “allows you to protect the people who protect the land.”
Today I am thankful for our Mother Earth, for her abundance, sustenance and healing properties. I am also thankful that at this moment there are so many people, in Canada and around the globe, fighting in solidarity to protect her and the gifts she gives.
Thanks to Ryerson University for providing an educational environment that fosters dialogue around the important contemporary issues of Toronto, Canada and the world.
“Traditional Chef, Johl Ringuette, and the staff of RingFire Productions have been providing delectable Aboriginal cuisine to the Toronto Native community and allies for several years. Raised in Northern Ontario, his knowledge of native food was provided by his father (a hunter), and inspired by the culinary wisdom of his mother. Yearning for the indigenous foods from his childhood such as wild game, freshwater fish, berries, and maple syrup, he set out to provide Aboriginal catering to the urban community. With almost thirty years experience in the foods industry, Chef Ringuette has been serving Traditional Anishnawbe foods since 2005.”
FYI – Win tickets through Urban Native Magazine.
CONTEST RULES –
tweet: “Hey @UrbanNativeMag I wanna see @iskwe at The Garrison” by 1 PM, Wednesday, October 2nd or email Lisa at urbannativemag.com to win.
“The Beat of the Globe pulses in the heart of Toronto as the 3rd Annual Small World in the Square takes over Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday September 28th from 1 pm on. This free, family-friendly event will showcase internationally renowned musicians who will get the crowd jumping to genres including Balkan, Calypso, Afro-Colombian jazz, Funk, Mexican rock and more. Between main stage performances, the InterAction Stage features hands-on workshops where participants can have unique one-on-one experiences with the artists. The centre piece of the 12th Annual Small World Music Festival, this cross-cultural community celebration will be a day to remember!”
CONGRATS TO THE MANIFESTO TEAM ON ANOTHER YEAR OF AMAZING PROGRAMMING & IGNITING THE COMMUNITY!
This festival continues to show how when enough people connect on a vision something wonderful and fresh can occur. The weather today? Not so good but Manifsto is offering plenty of food for thought and inspiring creativity inside and away from the rain with their symposiums & talks.
NOON TODAY – SO MUCH THINGS TO SAY: Evolution Summit. An inspiring array of panel discussions, keynote speakers and mentor classes. More info…
3 PM TODAY – THE FLOOR AWARDS. Manifesto celebrates the best urban dance artists, educators, youth and community catalysts at our 3rd Annual Floor Awards. First created through community dance consultation, this awards provides a platform to honour the depth of creation and innovation happening in urban dance arts in Toronto. More info…
4 PM TODAY – HEARTIST. A pre-show panel discussion and audience talk back about the growth of mentor-mentee collaborations in Canada, how they work, and add value to the health of the Canadian arts sector. More info…
6PM TODAY – SACRED SEVEN ART SHOW – This year for the 7th Annual Manifesto Art Show we will explore the notions of connectedness and evolution as we present thought-provoking works from local artists as well as game-changers from across the globe.
“Everything in our world is sacred and interconnected – and we’re in the midst of an epochal shift to recognizing that truth in every realm of human endeavor.” – Stephen Dinan