This project is close to my heart, and I am very much looking forward to sharing its coming into being with my dear friend and collaborator, Jannie Edwards. There are many crossings-over and interweaving between this writing and the creation-research project 40 Chains a Side that I have been developing for my MFA these last (nearly) two years. The Letters have been another way in, another way to process what I have learned – about ongoing and historical settler-colonial harms, and the responsibilities settlers have within this still-dominant, still-destructive system of relations.
To those whoargue that they are not responsible, because they were not directly involved with
the residential schools, I say that, as Canadian citizens, we are ultimately responsible
for the past and present actions of our government. To those who say that
we cannot change the past, I say that we can learn from it. We can better understand
how a problematic mentality of benevolent paternalism became a rationale
and justification for acquiring Indigenous lands and resources, and drove the
creation of prescriptive education policies that ran counter to the treaty relationship.
Equally importantly, we can explore how this mentality continues to influence
Indigenous-settler relations today. Failing to do so will ensure that, despite our
vow of never again, Canada will create equally destructive policies and practices
into the future. To those who argue that former IRS students should just get over
it and move on, I say that asking victims to bury a traumatic past for the “greater
good” of achieving reconciliation does not address the root of the problem –
FROM Unsettling the Settler Within, Paulette Regan, UBC Press 2010, p.4
I have compiled some resources here that I hope are useful in thinking about Settler responsibility and the ongoing harms of Settler-Colonial structures in so-called Canada. All of this material was useful to me in doing the research for my MFA. Wherever possible, I have provided online links to information; I think it is important to eliminate barriers to information wherever possible. While I recognize this page still requires being able to access to the internet, at least more people in more places can use these tools if I offer them here than could otherwise.
If you are interested, please feel free to investigate the project 40 Chains a Sideas a whole.
I have listed resources with web links first in each subject area; all links were current and active March 1 2022. Articles and books that follow these first listings may be accessible through local libraries or through university/college library systems.
Devine, Heather. “J.Z. LaRocque: A Métis Historian’s Account of His Family’s Experiences during the North-West Rebellion of 1885.” Finding Directions West : Readings That Locate and Dislocate Western Canada’s Past, University of Calgary Press, 2017.
Land and Territory
Native Land (digital interactive map of traditional Indigenous Territories)
Multiculturalism Cannot Contain Multitudes: Towards a Lateral Relationality and Undoing of Settler Colonialism
Despite claims to the contrary multiculturalism operates as the inheritor of official and unofficial policies both cultural and economic that are specifically designed to assimilate newcomers into the white supremacist settler colonial state, thereby ensuring the continued existence of Canada. While effort has been made recently to pay homage to Indigenous peoples as a singular founding people alongside the French and British, we continue to represent an existential threat that cannot be reconciled with the stated purpose of multiculturalism which centres awareness and celebration of diverse cultures. This presentation offers as an alternative, a lateral form of relationality based on the Métis/Cree concept of wâhkôhtowin or expanded kinship, with the purpose of undoing white supremacist settler colonialism.
Links to Articles in the Press and Elsewhere, and Talks of Interest:
A Documentary Film, Lana Gets Her Talk – This brief study of an artist and her work helps us come to some understanding of the trauma experienced by Canada’s Indigenous people in the Indian Residential School system, of its enduring effects on the children of survivors of the IRS, and of one woman’s journey to recover what was lost: dignity, identity, and voice. A story of resilience, Lana’s journey speaks of the power of Indigenous “ways of being” in our time.
Articles and Books (check with Public Libraries or University/College Libraries for copies):
Alfred, Taiaiake. “Foreword.” Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada, by Paulette Regan, UBC Press, 2010, pp. ix–xi.
Battell Lowman, Emma, and Adam J. Barker. Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada. Fernwood Publishing, 2015.
Decter, Leah, and Carla Taunton, eds. Beyond Unsettling: methodologies for decolonizing futures. Public Journal, Fall 2021. vol. 32, no. 64.
Greer, Allan. Property and Dispossession: Natives, Empires and Land in Early Modern North America. Cambridge UP, 2018.
Henderson, Phil. “Imagoed Communities: The Psychosocial Space of Settler Colonialism.” Settler Colonial Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 2017, pp. 40–56.
Mann, Geoff. “Settler-Colonialism’s Anti-Social Contract.” The Canadain Geographer, vol. 64, no. 3, 2020, pp. 433–44.
Morgensen, Scott Lauria. “The Biopolitics of Settler Colonialism: Right Here, Right Now.” Settler Colonial Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 2011, pp. 52–76.
Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. “Introduction: White Possession and Indigenous Sovereignty Matters.” White Possessive., University of Minnesota Press, 2015.
Murphyao, Amanda, and Kelly Black. “Unsettling Settler Belonging: (Re)Naming and Territory Making in the Pacific Northwest.” American Review of Canadian Studies, vol. 45, no. 3, 2015, pp. 315–31.
Strakosch, Elizabeth, and Alissa Macoun. “The Vanishing Endpoint of Settler Colonialism.” Arena Journal, vol. 37/38, 2012, pp. 40–62.
Steinman, Erich. “Unsettling as Agency: unsettling settler-colonialism where you are.” Settler Colonial Studies, vol.10, no. 4, 2020, pp.558 – 575.
Tuck, Eve, and K.Wayne Yang. “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeniety, Education & Society. vol. 1, no. 1, 2012, pp. 1-40.
Veracini, Lorenzo. “‘Settler Colonialism’: Career of a Concept.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 41, no. 2, 2013, pp. 313–33.
Wolfe, Patrick. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 8, no. 4, 2006, pp. 387–409.
I’m in the middle of my last day of self-isolation.
I’ve been packing, cleaning, preparing to move to my more permanent residence … about to dive headlong into the next month of work. The first of two Spring Intensive in-person sessions for my MFA is about to start Monday morning.
It feels a bit dislocating … discombobulating maybe a better (certainly more interesting and theatrical) word for it. The way time has warped over the last 2 weeks, the speed with which things are starting to happen in preparation for the work to begin in earnest.
So, to … mark this shift into a new way of being, I offer here a brief meditation on the unreliability of the devices humans have used to mark time’s passage.
You don’t notice the miscues until they are what anchors you to the day. There’s something not quite right with the mechanism, you can hear it, but only sometimes. In those moments, the clock changes character completely; it’s no longer the drone of the day, the comforting rhythm that’s easy to ignore. Then it stops, or doubles up on itself, hiccups … becoming something more consuming … a nervous tick that reminds you of what you can’t fully grasp: the tiny, incremental changes all around you, that you can’t see and can’t hear, but are, nevertheless, more reliable narrators of change and time’s passage than humans will ever be.
This will be a FREE, online, informal conversation with Sarah Huffman of the AGA; I’ll be walking participants through some recent projects, showing some new work that will be avaialable through Art Rental & Sales and talking about my approach to art-making.
If you’re interested and have the time, it would be lovely to see you – there will be a Q&A after the presentation.
I have been busy working through the last few months of documentation from the work done this year on MAKE=BELIEVE. So much to think about, and many, many threads of research to pursue. The longer I work on this installation, the more I learn and discover. What a joy that is.
Here’s part 1 of a walk through the installation – I hope it’s a chance for people to pause for a few minutes, and maybe provide a little break in these odd and crazy times.
Looking forward to any feedback you may want to provide. Stay well & safe.
Grateful for a couple of quiet days, so that I could get to the documentation, and actually DO this!
So – here you are – a short video walk-through of Macromareal!
A note in the sound you will hear: the first is an excerpt of “Fogbreath,” created by Scott Smallwood from field recordings in and around Parrsboro NS, where we held residencies to create this work in 2016 and 2017. This sound work was presented in the first gallery, as shown in the video.
The second is an excerpt of a recording of “Wave Passage Effects,” which Scott created in MAX, and which was presented in real time in the second gallery, with a video projection of the software used to sonny environmental data in real time in the gallery. This was an opportunity to ‘see sound’ and ‘hear environmental data’ from the magnificent Bay of Fundy.
The third excerpt is from the recording of the (very first!) 2017 performance of “Macromareal Prelude: in fog and storm and sunshine” composed by Scott as part of this project. We presented this work at the beginning of the exhibition at SNAP Gallery as well, but with a group of wonderful brass musicians.
Hope you enjoy this – and if you have questions. please feel free to shoot me a note from my contact page.
I am in the process of editing a raft of documentation from the recently-closed Macromareal exhibition at SNAP. Below, a selection of images from that exhibition – a fond reminder for me of how lovely it was to show in this beautiful gallery & be supported by such an excellent organization – and a sampling of what was there for those who weren’t able to see the work in person.