The Land We Are is a stunning collection of writing and art that interrogates the current era of reconciliation in Canada. Using visual, poetic, and theoretical language, the contributors approach reconciliation as a problematic narrative about Indigenous-settler relations, but also as a site where conversations about a just future must occur. The result of a four-year collaboration between artists and scholars engaged in resurgence and decolonization, The Land We Are is a moving dialogue that blurs the boundaries between activism, research, and the arts.

Part of our Indigenous Collection.

Other contributors: Jordan Abel, Leah Decter, Jonathan Dewar, David Garneau, Ayumi Goto, Allison Hargreaves, David Jefferess, Jaimie Isaac, Layli Long Soldier, Peter Morin, The New BC Indian Art and Welfare Society Collective, Skeena Reece, Dylan Robinson, Sandra Semchuk, Adrian Stimson, Clement Yeh, Keren Zaiontz.

Subject Art & Politics/Indigenous Studies
Published June 2015
Price $24.95 CDN
Pages 240 pp (Paper)
Dimensions 6.5″ × 9.5″ × 1″
ISBN-10 1894037634
ISBN-13 9781894037631

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About the Editors

Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill is a Métis artist from Vancouver, BC, who works in drawing, sculpture, and public installation. Her work has been exhibited at Sunset Terrace, Gallery Gachet, Grunt Gallery, and Red Gate in Vancouver, BC; at the TRU Gallery in Kamloops, BC; and also at Get This! Gallery in Atlanta, GA. Gabrielle holds a BA with honors in English from Simon Fraser University (SFU) and a BFA in Visual Arts, also from SFU.

Sophie McCall is a settler scholar and Associate Professor in the English department at Simon Fraser University. Over the past four years, she has worked in a collaborative research group investigating the relationship between art and reconciliation, and was the Principal Investigator for a SSHRCC Public Outreach Grant, Reconciliation: Work(s) in Progress—An Innovation Forum, in 2012–13. She has published articles and scholarly chapters in the areas of Indigenous literatures, reconciliation, and decolonization. Her book, First Person Plural: Aboriginal Storytelling and the Ethics of Collaborative Authorship (UBC Press, 2011), was a finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize for English Canadian literary criticism and the Canada Prize from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences for scholarly work in the Humanities. She is the editor of Anahareo’s Devil in Deerskins: My Life with Grey Owl (University of Manitoba Press, 2014).

Contributors

Jordan Abel is a Nisga’a writer currently residing in Vancouver. Abel’s conceptual writing engages with the representation of Indigenous peoples in Anthropology through the technique of erasure. He has been described as “a master carver of the page” who passes the work of sculpture along to the reader “who reads, and rereads, in three dimensions.” Abel’s chapbooks have been published by JackPine Press and Above/Ground Press, and his work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals across Canada, including Prairie Fire, EVENT, dANDelion, ARC, CV2, The Capilano Review, Descant, Grain, and Canadian Literature. He is an editor for Poetry Is Dead magazine and the former poetry editor for PRISM international and Geist. Abel’s first book, The Place of Scraps (Talonbooks), was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Un/inhabited, Abel’s second book, was co-published by Project Space Press and Talonbooks. Leah Decter is an inter-media artist and scholar whose work includes video, digital media, installation, textiles, performance, critical collaboration, social practice and writing. Based in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 territory, she has exhibited, presented on, and screened her work widely in Canada, including at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Grunt Gallery, Dunlop Art Gallery, Images Festival, the Institute of Performance and Politic’s Hemispheric Enquentro, and Trinity Square Video, and internationally in the US, UK, Australia, Germany, Malta, the Netherlands, and India. Her co-written and collaborative work (with Carla Taunton and Jaimie Isaac) has been published in Fuse Magazine’s Decolonizing Aesthetics issue and West Coast Line’s Reconcile This!. It also has been featured recently in Studio: Craft and Design in Canada, and the Journal of Canadian Art History. Decter’s work is primarily focused on considering histories and contemporary conditions of settler colonialism in Canada through a critical white settler lens, and rendering counter-narratives to dominant nationalist mythologies. Decter holds an MFA in New Media from Transart Institute (Berlin) and is currently a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University (Kingston).

Jonathan Dewar is the Director of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and Special Advisor to the President at Algoma University, where he leads research, education, and curatorial initiatives. From 2007 to 2012 he served as Director of Research and Evaluation at the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and he is a past director of the Métis Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization. Jonathan is of mixed heritage, descended from Huron-Wendat, Scottish, and French Canadian grandparents. His academic background is in Aboriginal literatures and drama (MA in Literature and Creative Writing) and Canadian and Indigenous Studies, with focuses on identity, (re)connection to culture and community, Indian Residential Schools and healing, and truth and reconciliation. A former SSHRC doctoral fellow, Jonathan is completing a doctorate in Canadian Studies at Carleton University. His research explores the role of art and artist in truth, healing, and reconciliation. Jonathan also served as the founding executive director of the Iqaluit, Nunavut-based Qaggiq Theatre Company from its inception in 2002 to 2006. While in Nunavut, Jonathan also served in senior roles with the Office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut and the Intergovernmental Affairs and Inuit Relations unit of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

David Garneau (Métis) is Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of Regina. He is a painter of road kill and drive-by landscapes, Métis themes, maps, comics, and quilts. His paintings have been collected by The Canadian Museum of Civilization; Parliament Buildings; Indian and Inuit Art Collection; The MacKenzie Art Gallery; Mendel Art Gallery; Dunlop Art Gallery; The Glenbow Museum; NONAM, Zurich; Musée de la civilisation, Québec City; and many other public and private collections. Garneau’s curation and writing most often engage the collision of nature and culture, metaphysics and materialism, and contemporary Indigenous identities. He has curated several large group, two-person, and solo exhibitions and written numerous catalogue essays and reviews. He has recently given talks in Melbourne, Adelaide, New York, San Diego, Sacramento, Saskatoon, and keynote lectures in Sydney, Toronto, Edmonton, Sault Ste. Marie, and Vancouver. Garneau is currently working on curatorial and writing projects featuring contemporary Indigenous art and curatorial exchanges between Canada and Australia, and is part of a five-year, SSHRC funded curatorial research project, “Creative Conciliation.”

Ayumi Goto is a performance artist and painter, currently based in Kelowna, Traditional Okanagan Territory. Born in Canada, she draws upon her Japanese heritage to trouble sedimented notions of nation-building, cultural belonging, and political compulsions in her creative and critical work. She has served as the art facilitator at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver, Traditional Coast Salish Territory. Ayumi guest co-edited the Summer 2012 issue of West Coast Line, Reconcile This!, which explores the interconnections between reconciliation, art, and activism, through Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives and exchanges. Ayumi is pursuing her PhD in Communication Studies at Simon Fraser University, where she is exploring notions of radical inclusion and deep collaboration as expressed in the works and practices of Cree Métis multi-media artist Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Siksika interdisciplinary artist Adrian Stimson, and Tahltan performance artist Peter Morin. She is currently a Research Affiliate at the Centre for Indigenous Media Arts at UBC Okanagan.

Allison Hargreaves and David Jefferess are non-Indigenous scholars who live and work in unceded Syilx territory. Allison teaches Indigenous literatures and theory in the Department of Critical Studies at UBC, Okanagan Campus. Her current research investigates literary and policy interventions into the social issue of gendered colonial violence in Canada, looking to Indigenous women’s writing as an intellectual contribution to contemporary feminist anti-violence debate. David teaches courses in postcolonial studies in the same department. His book, Postcolonial Resistance (2008), theorizes reconciliation as a means of social transformation, and his current research critically assesses the “relations” imagined within contemporary humanitarian discourses. Their current collaborations focus on community-based dialogues on the idea of reconciliation and decolonization in both local and global contexts.

Jaimie Isaac is a Winnipeg-based freelance curator, writer, artist, and arts administrator, is of Anishnabe and British heritage, and is a member of Sagkeeng First Nation from Treaty 1 Territory. Isaac holds a degree in Art History and an Arts and Cultural Management Certificate from the University of Winnipeg, and is completing graduate studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan on Indigenous Curatorial Praxis. Jaimie has published essays, presented and participted at national and international conferences and artist residencies, and has curated and exhibited work nationally. She is a member of The Ephemerals Collective with Niki Little and Jenny Western. Jaimie has worked in several capacities with Indigenous organizations and communities, served on juries and committees, and volunteered on the boards of Urban Shaman Gallery, Aboriginal Curatorial Collective, National Indigenous New Media Coalition, and Aboriginal Music Manitoba Inc. Through academic, curatorial, and artistic interests, she engages interdisciplinary areas of reconciliation, Indigenous feminism, identity, representation, social justice, resistance, and decolonization.

Layli Long Soldier holds a BFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA with Honors from Bard College. She resides in Tsaile, AZ, on the Navajo Nation and is an adjunct faculty member at Diné College. She has served as a contributing editor to Drunken Boat. Her poems and critical work have appeared in The American Poet, The American Reader, The Kenyon Review Online, American Indian Journal of Culture and Research, PEN America, and The Brooklyn Rail. Her first chapbook of poetry is titled, Chromosomory (Q Ave Press, 2010) and forthcoming manuscript is titled Whereas.

Peter Morin is a Tahltan Nation artist, curator, and writer who recently relocated from British Columbia to Brandon, MB, where he joined the Visual and Aboriginal Arts Faculty at Brandon University. Morin studied art at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and recently completed his MFA at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan in 2011. In both his artistic practice as well as his curatorial work, Morin’s practice-based research investigates the impact between Indigenous cultural-based practices and western settler-colonialism. This work, defined by Tahltan Nation epistemological production, often takes on the form of performance interventions, and also includes object and picture making. Morin has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions including Team Diversity Bannock and the World’s Largest Bannock attempt (2005), A return to the place where God outstretched his hand (2007); performative works at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; 12 Making Objects AKA First Nations DADA (12 Indigenous Interventions) (2009) at Open Space, Victoria; Peter Morin’s Museum (2011) at Satellite Gallery, Vancouver; and Circle (2011) at Urban Shaman in Winnipeg. In addition to his art making and performance-based practice, Morin has curated exhibitions at the Museum of Anthropology, Western Front, Bill Reid Gallery, and Burnaby Art Gallery.

The New BC Indian Art and Welfare Society Collective is an Indigenous artist collective interested in exploring questions of site, land, and the Indigenous imaginary. Our name references The British Columbia Indian Arts and Welfare Society, a mid-twentieth century organization that sought to advance Indigenous art as a means to promote awareness about and economic opportunity for Indigenous people. Our name is ironic and suggests the paternalistic bureaucracies surrounding Indigenous life in this province and country. The NBCIAWSC articulates our work within these histories and also through a process of engagement with Indigenous thought, spirituality, languages, and interactions with the land.

Skeena Reece is the Tsimshian/Cree daughter of Red Power radical Cleo Reece and internationally renowned carver Victor Reece. An international multimedia artist whose work includes performance art, spoken word, “sacred clowning,” writing, singing, and video art, Reece has performed at venues including The Power Plant, Toronto (2012), Modern Fuel, Kingston, ON (2011), 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010), Nuit Blanche, Toronto (2009), LIVE Biennale, Vancouver (2009), the UBC Museum of Anthropology (2008), and the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC (2008). Reece studied at Northwest Community College and Emily Carr University of Art + Design and trained at the Banff Centre and Grunt Gallery as a curatorial practices intern. Reece is the recipient of the 2012 BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations Art.

Dylan Robinson is a Stó:lō scholar, Assistant Professor, and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s University. le xwel totí:lt te halq’eméylem sqwéltel. His publications include the collection Opera Indigene, co-edited with Pamela Karantonis, while his current research focuses on Indigenous art and performance interventions in public space. Forthcoming work includes an edited volume on the aesthetics of reconciliation with Wilfrid Laurier Press (co-edited with Keavy Martin) and a collection on Indigenous musical modernity (co-edited with Victoria Lindsay Levine).

Sandra Semchuk is a storyteller, photographer, and video artist whose inquiry includes small animals that like to count coup on her, coming close enough to make it impossible for her to video them. Her collaborations and video works use the familial, autobiography, and dialogue as the basis for recognition and identity across generations, cultures, and species. She says, “it is important for those of us that share this land to listen with our hearts, to move out of denial and to recognize the complex intergenerational effects of our conflicted histories.” As a partner in Treaties, member of the settler culture, and widow of Cree orator and co-collaborator, James Nicholas, Semchuk works with dialogue to disrupt myths that have shaped settler relations to First Nations. She considers the larger more-than-human world, flora, and fauna in order to glimpse possible relationships between the Indigenous and the non-Indigenous. She incorporates lenticular imagery, video including 3D technologies, and, most recently, vocables and overtone singing to converse across constructed boundaries. Her works have shown at Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver; Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; fotofeis in Scotland; Museu D’art Contemporani in Barcelona; Urban Shaman in Winnipeg; Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in Ottawa; and at the Chapel Gallery in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. Semchuk is completing a book on Ukrainians in Canada, The Stories Were Not Told, Stories and Photographs from Canada’s First Internment Camps, 1914-1920. She teaches at Emily Carr University.

Adrian Stimson is a member of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation in southern Alberta. He is an artist, curator, and educator with a BFA with distinction from the Alberta College of Art & Design and an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan. As an interdisciplinary artist, Adrian’s work includes painting, installation, sculpture, and performance. Recent exhibits and performances include Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University; Sovereign Acts, Southern Alberta Art Gallery; Story Telling: Contemporary Native Art Biennial, Art Muir, Montreal; Witnesses at the Belkin Gallery, UBC, Vancouver; Reconsidering Reconciliation, Kamloops; Buffalo Boy’s Coal Jubilee; House of the Wayward Spirits- ANDPVA, Toronto; White Shame Re-Worked, Grunt Gallery, Vancouver; Photo Quai, Musee du Quai Branly, Paris, France. Adrian was awarded the Blackfoot Visual Arts Award in 2009, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003, and the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005. Clement Yeh holds a BFA in Drawing from the Alberta College of Art + Design and an MFA in Sculpture from Concordia University. His interests range widely across beauty, social injustice, environmentalism, craft, feminism, human rights, design, eroticism, pop culture, science fiction/fantasy, and whatever else catches his fancy. He finds daily inspiration everywhere around him, and always seeks to make contemporary visual art accessible to the general public. Complementing his personal studio practice is Makerbros.com, his Montreal-based custom prop/sculpture company in partnership with sculptor Ian Langohr.

Keren Zaiontz is Assistant Professor in the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University. Her research examines a range of cultural practices from socially-engaged performance to international arts festivals and mega events. Her publications include essays in Theatre Journal, Theatre Research International, Performance Research, Contemporary Theatre Review, and Canadian Theatre Review. Her book chapters have appeared in anthologies on site-specific performance and global festivals. Keren is currently writing a book for Palgrave Macmillan’s Theatre & series, Theatre & Festivals.