Where is the Solidarity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XnkBcI0ZbA Screen shot 2014-05-26 at 11.45.05 AM

Where is the Solidarity?

The intent of the Indian Act is to smother the true sovereign Nations of what is called Canada.

The idea of the Indian Act is to oppress the First Nations so the settler can live in comfort.

To live in comfort of genocide.

To live in comfort with exploitation

To live in comfort while my people are constantly insulted through this piece of legislation.

The Indian Act is the foundation of a national disgrace.

A dark colonial history that many settlers cannot recall.

So as settlers,…

What do you think as I rip apart this piece of legislation.

This piece of legislation that allows you to flourish in my land.

What do you think of this paternalistic government and its imperial tactics.

What do you think of the Aboriginal female, 

a rape victim that can’t get any justice in your courts, 

because she’s seen as just a drunken Indian, 

who deserved it, 

who was asking for it.

What do you think of the Aboriginal, 

who has been racially profiled too many times in her young adult life.

What do you think of the Aboriginal female 

who does not know where she belongs in her own land.

She’s not red enough.

And she’s definitely not white enough…

The intent of the Indian Act is to smother the true sovereign Nations of what is called Canada.

Because of the Indian Act I don’t know my spirituality.

Because of the Indian Act I don’t know how to live off the land.

Because of the Indian Act I do not know my language.

Because of the Indian Act I have no idea who I am.

So as settlers how will you go about your government 

How will you go about with my solidarity.

How will you go about with your solidarity.

What will you do to make a difference.

How will you help mend the wounds that have been open for 520 years.

Or will you just perpetuate the cycle.

In saying that we should get over it.

I beg you to get over yourself.

I beg you to understand your place as a settler.

I beg you to fucking understand your place as a settler.

Because I’m sick of this. 

My People are at a tipping point.

I’m not here to give you a history lesson.

That’s your responsibility as the colonizer.

Your history is short enough that you can understand a little bit about colonization,

I’m here as an artist in an attempt to open up your eyes to the injustice that you call Canada.

The intent of the Indian Act is to smother the true sovereign Nations of what is called Canada.

And what are you doing as Canadians about it?

Where is the Solidarity? Reflection:

In my career as a Bachelor of Fine Arts student, I have found a means to express my concerns of the Onkwehonwe (Original Inhabitants). To be born Indigenous is to be naturally born into politics and my art reflects that. Since most art does not reach out to reserves/reservations in Turtle Island, the conceptual aspects of my work are to engage and enlighten settlers of the true colonial history. Providing an alternate history lesson to a dark and hidden past I try to ease my viewers to a better understanding of the foundations of the countries of North America. Ultimately, I reveal and give voice to social and political Indigenous issues. Through engaging and challenging my viewers I lay down the foundations to awaken the public to an Indigenous discourse in hopes to continue a dialogue between Indigenous peoples and people of other heritages to address and deal with long standing problematic issues. 

I work with mediums that are most appropriate to express my concepts because each medium’s characteristics can interact with my viewers in ways that best correlates to the given concept. The visual props or found objects in my performance are covered in red clothing (please see attached image); a colour signifying the many diverse Indigenous Nations that have been put under the blanket term of Indian, a term that is foreign to my People. Through these appropriated found objects I critique negative preconceived notions of colonialism and Indigenous standing, which presently continues to be perpetuated without question. Covering these found objects in red clothing I reveal the concealed imperialistic tactics of the destruction of whole Indigenous Nations. 

With that being said, the found objects, the chair, table, lamp, and shoes are used to create one sculpture piece which speaks of perception. The piece is set up as if someone needs to put on the shoes. This is a significant because it allows the viewer to fill the shoes, therefore, allowing insight and imagination to flow. Many of my colleagues seen this aspect as a metaphor to try to understand the history of colonialism and how this effects many Onkwehonwe in their day to day life. As for me and many others like myself, it is a testament of how we can continue to decolonize or indigenize ourselves for our personal healing and betterment of our communities. The path towards decolonization or indigenization is up to the individual. Many will be leaders of their community. Many will walk with passion to parliament to make their voice heard. Many will teach and continue to tell our stories. The path does not matter as long as it is the right one that the Creator has set for them.

One visual prop I did not mention was the Indian Act wrapped in leather. Much like my other works, the concept revolves around the effects of the Indian Act.  This feature speaks to the Indian Act and how it has affected my personal experiences, my family, friends and those from my community. It is wrapped in leather because its legislative qualities have entrapped the many Indigenous Nations it has coerced onto. As we can seen with the White Paper of 1969, as much as it oppresses us, it also protects us from further assimilation. During my performance, I tear up the Indian Act as the most therapeutic process in which I allow myself to create a critical discourse in decolonizating towards self-identification.

As I tear up the legislation, I recite the poem above. The poem allows my audience to reflect of what is taken for granted by many settlers in a colonial state. I voice general statements  of colonialism such as land and resource exploitation, issues of sovereignty, cultural genocide, etc. From a more specific standpoint, I speak from my perception because my own subjective experience is my true knowledge.  I voice my concerns that I have experienced as a Kanienkehaka woman. The most significant aspect of this poem, is allow my audience to recognize these statements as fact. I ask them to continue learning the true history of Canada and more importantly, I ask them for their solidarity. This is my attempt to fill those shoes by doing what I love: art. I truly believe that the Creator has given me a gift to create and I will continue to do so because it is my path given to me by my Creator. I hope the poem speaks for itself and I hope that through an individual level, there is at least one more settler ally joining us on our path towards healing. 

As for myself, my work expresses my drive to understand my own idiosyncratic perspective and letting my struggle of identity or rather filling the gap in my soul be known. Expressing elements of oppression, coercion, sovereignty, and identity to display another perception that most of Canadian society is completely oblivious too. Ultimately, Where is the Solidarity? and my other works are set out to question the settler within them by expressing a subjugated perspective to add layers to society’s uncontested assumptions. Screen shot 2014-05-26 at 11.43.42 AM

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