Slowing Down to Celebrate
I'm spending time trying to figure out ways to holistically make sure that I engage with spaces in ways that best serve the community and failing often. I sometimes do a values check in, I always survey the space - whose there, whose not there, whose taking up a lot of space, whose trying to take up more. What cognitive and racial bias are evoked and present in situations, how can I disseminate power, use my power, how's privilege being accounted for, whose got the most at stake, whose the most vulnerable.
Then it's this constant cyclical check in of all these things over and over because each environment is changing all of the time - it's conscious work and impermanence requires diligence. I'm still working on my capacity to diligently exist in these spaces so I have my own ways of being that help me centre my needs to then be in service of the community.
I quit smoking almost 4.5 years ago and one of the biggest teachings from investigating why I smoked was that I need breaks, a bunch of them. I still head outside with smokers (they usually are having the greatest conversations) and I like the change in pace. Sometimes I hang with them and or just go for a small walk.
Something I've been doing recently is mid conversation I'm asking people to just slow down and or to just hold for a moment. Because I'm working rigorously on re-conditioning myself to be present and truthful with my emotional experience and how that is in relation to intellectual clarity and I sometimes need more time to process. This is a part of my decolonnial practice and it's a whole other step to knowledge sharing that Settlers don't have to do and so it takes more time. Dat cool.
I like conversations that allow for breaks/silences/rests because so much is occurring. When I use to host work calls in government, I'd always make a preamble stating that silence is okay and we don't need to fill it but please mindful of heavy breathing :P
Bearing witness takes an extraordinary amount of conscious full body listening and I'm still learning how to do this effectively and for that matter quickly. I'm not sure how others move so fast. I miss things working that way and I'm humbled by the depths and nuance's of knowledge.
I think I've mentioned that I walk quite slow. I leave a lot of time to get places when I'm walking because there's so much to take in. If I'm walking with friends I want to hear their stories, if I'm holding someones hand I want to really feel and honour their courageous touch and if I'm by myself I need time to pick up sticks and examine things.
Garnette Cadogan is a scholar and teacher at Banff who has some incredible insights on walking. He talks about walking as a gentle form of protest, that foot steps are entry points into creativity and that his optimal pace is 3.5km. I wonder what mine is and how do we measure this? I'm sure an Elder would just poke me and say walk at the pace that makes you feel good.
I also find that when I slow down it gives me some space to celebrate, which is usually the first thing to go in rush. It's a quick "good job, high five and were moving on". Where's the space for laughing, dancing, celebrating?
So for the next part of this blog I'm going to play this song very loud, on repeat and jam out while I celebrate all these dope ass events occurring and the people making them happening.
So my friend Lindsay Lachance was at the Sobey's (is that how we say this? like the grocery store) anyways it's the"pre-eminent prize for Canadian artists 40 and under" and they hand out some caaaaaaaaash. Like "a total of $240,000 in prize money was awarded: $100,000 to the overall winner, $25,000 to each of the four shortlisted artists, and $2,000 to each of the remaining twenty longlisted artists." And this years winner was the Kapwani Kiwanga who is dope and guess what 3 out of the 5 shortlisted nominees were INDIGENOUS!!!! Congrats Joi T. Arcand, Jordan Bennett and Jeneen Frei Njootli ya'lll killing it!!! So much pride and love.
Locaaaaal, the Vancouver Art Gallery has an exhibit with the formidable Hunkpapa Lakota (Sioux) artist Dana Claxton called Fringing the Cube. "Claxton investigates notions of Indigenous identity, beauty, gender and the body. Comprising photography, video, text-based work and documentation of her performances, Dana Claxton: Fringing the Cubepresents a body of work that is both visually compelling and thought provoking." Let's all go see it! The VAG is having their FUSE event on Nov 23 from 8-12pm. Also Tues are PWYC nights from 5-9pm.
The Bill Reid Gallery has this major dope exhibit happening on now called Body Language Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest which I checked out a few weeks back and would highly recommend. The guest curator is Dion Kaszas (Nlaka’pamux) and the Artists features are Nakkita Trimble (Nisga’a); Nahaan (Tlingit); Corey Bulpitt (Haida); Dean Hunt (Heiltsuk). Self identifying Indigenous folks get access at no Canadian currency cost but via land base resource trade and SFU students get entry for free.
The Museum of Anthropology currently has an exhibit called MARKING THE INFINITE Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia."Marking the Infinite features the work of nine Aboriginal women—Nonggirrnga Marawili, Wintjiya Napaltjarri, Yukultji Napangati, Angelina Pwerle, Carlene West, Regina Pilawuk Wilson, Lena Yarinkura, Gulumbu Yunupingu and Nyapanyapa Yunupingu—each from different remote regions of Australia. They are revered matriarchs and celebrated artists who are represented in the collections of the Australian National Gallery. Most of them make their Canadian debut at MOA with this breathtaking exhibition." This goes on until Mar 32 2019 but don't delay! Self identifying Indigenous folks get access at no Canadian currency cost but via land base resource trade.
I recently had the privilege of hanging out with the Matriarchs of Unceded Airwaves which "is a weekly radio program produced by CiTR’s Indigenous Collective. We are committed to centering the voices of Native people and offering alternative narratives that empower Native people and their stories..the one hour program airs every Wednesday from 2-3pm. You can check out the episode I did with them last week here and I highly recommend you check them out every week. I love love love them.
I'm pouting because I wanted to go to Native Earth Performing Arts WEESAGEECHAK 31 Annual development festival of Indigenous work led by recent 2018 GG nominee and AD Keith Barker but I had to centre myself and stay on the Coast Salish. If you're in T'karonto get your butts out they have a wicked 2 Spirit Cabaret in partnership with Buddies and Bad Times Theatre happening tonight!!! All the cool NDN's are there and I'm having serious fomo. If you're there and reading this text me all the things!
Margo a go go and Full Circle have a 5 day intensive with Pangea World Theatre happening next week and you can find out more information about that here. "Aspiring and established professional Indigenous performers/actors/directors are invited to enroll in this 5-day Intensive led by internationally recognized Literary and Artistic Directors of Pangea World Theatre (Minneapolis) Meena Natarajan and Dipankar Mukherjee." Sounds like one you're not going to want to miss.
I'm also sad I missed the Push Launch powerfully led by Matriarchs Joyce Rosario and Roxanne Duncan. You can check out the 2019 Festival schedule here and they've got some exciting artists and industry series going on, as well as special $15 tickets on sale until Nov 30! Into it.
I'm headed to this event later today and recommend that you attend as well, especially if you don't hold space for Black voices to be heard on the daily. I had the privilege of meeting Desmond Cole a few years back at a conference on pluralism and he has had a profound impact on me with regards to prioritizing race-centric led discourse specifically for me around Indigenous led creative space. Desmond also shares his teachings so clearly and generously.
Hoookayyyyyyyyyy I'm going to go for a walk at 3.5kmh
In celebration, with respect,
p.s ohhh mmmmm geeeee I went to Salmon and Bannock the other day owned and operated by Inez Cook who is a fierce Matriarch and generous theatre goer and community member. Holy moly do they ever have game! I'm like still full from 2 days ago! We ate the salmon, people tried the sea lion, I tried traditionally smoked oolichan and she literally gave us some of her smoked salmon from her purse and sent over some maple whiskey to finish the meal - such a loving Aunty!!!!! They gave us the table under the canoe and we dined slow just like their menu said "no fast food." ;)
p.p.s this video has been making the rounds and is well worth the watch - especially for white and settler folk. It's called Why are White People so Bad At Talking About Race so please watch and go work on your fragility and get your tears out of my face. ha! And somehow get yourself to this event with Dr. Robin DiAngelo, author of "White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism." Go, read the book, learn and stop "defending, deflecting and denying".