Monday, December 31, 2018

Camp Freedom versus the StolenWealth Games


Camp Freedom versus the StolenWealth Games


'We wanted to make it clear to the mob, make it clear to the world, make it clear to our people, that we are here, and we're here, and we're standing strong. And we don't want nothin', we don't want nothin' of the Commonwealth here. They've stolen the land, built this country on Stolen Wages, built this country on the blood and bones of our people, and it's about time that history is acknowledged. And it's about time them royal families who are responsible for it all, they come down here, they get on our level. They ask to be here on our country, that's what needs to happen.'  
(Wharton 2018)

Camp Freedom is the name of the base protest site set up by Aboriginal Activists for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held at on Yugambeh Land at Moondarewa at the Gold Coast in Queensland, and still lives on in our consciousness. Camp Freedom was a place to gather, a place to organise protest actions, a place to visit, a place to swim, a place for cultural performances and creativity, a place to rest, and mostly significant because we don't generally have access to these kinds of public spaces in Australia. The young Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) and other organisers worked with Yugambeh Traditional Owners, the bureaucracy of the local City Council, Police and government officials for years before the Games started, to secure a permit for the site and ensure facilities for campers and visitors. It drew people from all over the world, and from all walks of life, including parents of athletes in The Games, who wanted to understand more about the Aboriginal experience of living under colonial oppression. Everyone involved seemed to take it seriously. One main thing that Camp Freedom still advocates for, is that of a Truth Commission to investigate Human Rights abuses, similar to other common mechanisms towards healing past wrongs, such as those initiated in South Africa and Canada (Brahm 2009).
Camp Freedom, Gold Coast 2018
The 2018 Commonwealth Games were held in the Australian State now ironically named Queensland, which has a well known history of being a Police State. However, generally Australia is not known for contemporary Terrorism attacks, and has a relatively smaller population, compared to other large countries. Yet in recent years, Police powers have drastically increased (and accountability decreased) with the hosting of major events, like the 2014 $500 million+ G20 Economic Summit in Brisbane, where Operation Southern Cross saw the introduction of unprecedented stop and search powers, a new state of the art Command Centre (Madden 2014), and now Police no longer have to wear name badges. The strategic incapacitation of the protest “likely to have drawn up to 120,000 people at the G20 summit in Brisbane was reduced to as few as 1,000 because of draconian protest laws, Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has been told.” (Baker 2014). Nonetheless this did not stop spending on a 10000 strong Para Military force (Drum Cussac 2018) or ramping up new bunkers (Pierce 2017) and Police powers in time for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and retaining the use of Facial Recognition Software (Roberts 2018) and increased powers to conduct personal searches without keeping a record now that The Games are over. (Courier Mail 2018). Despite the Police publicly stating that there was no need “I have to reinforce that there is currently no specific threat against the Games or against anything in Queensland” ( Armbruster 2018)
some of the Queensland Police Presence at Australia Fair Shopping Centre, Gold Coast 2018
Aside from the over-the-top uniformed and under cover Police numbers at protests, the perimeters of Camp Freedom were swarming with all sorts of Police all day and night, Helicopters and drones overhead, rubber dinghies on the water, along with dune buggies, horses, motorbikes, pursuit vehicles, buses and surveillance vans. Despite the fact that Camp Freedom actually paid tens of thousands of dollars (B.A.S.E. 2018) to the City of Gold Coast Council for an official permit and bond cost (for Aboriginal people to camp on stolen land), the Police tried to serve Camp Freedom with a fake eviction notice on April 10. When that did not fool the camp, the government also sent in the Department of Childrens Services, The Health Department, The Fire Department, but they were in turn, evicted by the Freedom Campers who cited Sovereign Rights and the Illegal Occupation of Australia (Welcome To Country 2018). 'Camp Freedom has released a “Statement of Reason”, which, highlights our dissent from colonial common law and condemns the continued genocidal actions and illegal occupation of our sacred homelands.' (Hartnett 2018)
screen capture, channel 7 news April 2018
The 2018 Commonwealth Games was held on my Ancestral Lands, on Yugambeh Country, which is now known as the Gold Coast. My only involvement was in protest of The Games, and I felt like I had a lot to protest about. My direct ancestral line on my Aboriginal side of the family, has had to deal with oppression for most levels of survival including the impact of massacres, the fear of child removal, living under The Act and the permit system, stolen wages, broken families and the culture war. Therefore, as an Indigenous person with old people who were grossly affected by colonial expansion, genocide and cultural assimilation, I view Indigenous Decolonisation as a process in understanding the history of our colonisation, rediscovering ancestral traditions and cultural values, while also Indigenizing spaces, and expressing my own contemporary world views creatively. It is in this way that we can heal and write ourselves into contemporary history making. However even in the mainstream arts the Gold Coast is well known as a Cultural Desert (Smith 2018), and Aboriginal people only make up less than two percent of the Gold Coast population (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016). Interestingly, the Gold Coast is the focus for Foreign land buyers more than anywhere else in Queensland (Hele 2018)
Jenny Fraser with a photograph of her family matriarch, Granny Clark
My own commitment to responding to The Games became serious once I had noticed that a young Maori woman (from New Zealand) had been appointed to the first new Indigenous Art Coordinator position at the Gold Coast Arts Centre in the lead up to The Games. 'This strategic manoeuvre by White Gakekeepers was culturally and ethically wrong, to appoint a Maori to speak on behalf of Aboriginal people, and take an identified Aboriginal position, and the support that it entails (propped up by the gallery - while at the same time they block authentic Aboriginal artists and curators voices). It is also unnecessary because there are qualified, experienced and knowledgeable Aboriginal curators being blocked from this position.' (Fraser 2017) I contacted the associated politicians and gallery figureheads. The Gold Coast Mayor and the Queensland Premier did send an official letter in response, but could only manage to point to each other for responsibility. However there was no response at all from the Management and Board of the Arts Centre, including their one (non-Yugambeh) Aboriginal Board member. Yet plenty of every day Australians, and Maori had a lot to say online in responding to my objection, merely for the sake of opposing an Aboriginal viewpoint, not so much reflecting any interest in the Arts. Until The Games organising frenzy, there was never an Aboriginal Curator position there, or anywhere else at the Gold Coast, and now that its over there still aren't any.
a screen capture of the petition page on change.org : Aboriginal People managing Aboriginal Art

I had attended an initial planning camp for the Commonwealth Games protests held in November 2016, but it wasn't until I was monstered by Police a few months in the paramilitary lead up to The Games, when my commitment to protest was affirmed.
In September 2017. I was targeted by the Queensland Police on a train, and when I responded by writing down their ID numbers, I was arrested for Fare Evasion within minutes, handcuffed, manhandled, publicly accused of smoking and carrying drugs, escorted to a paddy wagon, patted down and driven to a car park, where I was let go. (Fraser 2017) I actually had a ticket, so the charge was quickly changed to Fail to Produce Ticket, and also Obstruct Police, and I was required to go to court.  I made an official complaint to the Police Minister, which was reviewed by the Police "Ethical Command" Unit, who found the Police in question to have committed no breach of conduct...  In order for me to get Legal Aid assistance, I was required to plead guilty in court, and because I had no prior record, the judge put me on a good behaviour bond for months, which happened to last until one week after The Games were over... This could have made protesting more of a risk for me, but it is a human right after all. I wasn't the only one harassed, as the preparatory Paramilitary exercises were being undertaken all around the region in South East Queensland and across the state border into Northern New South, other people were being monstered and also had batons, pepper spray and guns pulled on them which were recorded in places like Byron Bay (Graham 2018) (Ford 2018) and Nimbin (Hoeben 2018). However, it does not seem like it is over, as one week after The Games were finished, I also got a phone call from the Police on the 22nd April, on a Sunday, informing me to expect a fine for a car accident that I had in 2017, which the Police had never even attended on the day in question... I elected to go to court, but the Police decided to drop the charge of 'Driving too close to another vehicle'.

My personal hopes for Camp Freedom was for it be a spiritual and cultural experience for locals and visitors alike, such as I had experienced in 2006 "During the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, it was at Camp Sovereignty where the spiritual healing developed. People felt peaceful and they felt safe, because the smoking ceremony at the sacred fire was healing. The introduction of our Aboriginal law, to the overall protest efforts, was the biggest contributor to the success of Camp Sovereignty." (Thorpe 2016) Some of the Indigenous Arts Community and others showed up to support Camp Freedom, performing and creating new work, which also helped to lift the vibration of the camp. We did this because real culture cannot be stopped, not because there was money in it for us, not because we were welcome at the Royals table, not because a government institution anointed us, and definitely not because we were part of a staged template, or a circus run by a circus, used by the Director of other Games formats already seen around the world. It was at Camp Freedom where our ongoing culture and consensus was consistently present throughout the two weeks, and as a parting gift, a Bora Ring was constructed with beach sand, in the shade of the space where yarning and decision making took place. Aside from the extreme Police response to the presence of Camp Freedom, I feel like our hopes were fulfilled and we did justice to our ancestors from all over the country. It must have been powerful, because the Bora Ring was immediately removed once Camp Freedom was vacated (Wharton 2018).
Camp Freedom Bora, Gold Coast 2018
by Jenny Fraser

* This is the unedited version of the essay that also appears in the Maroon Magazine marking the 10th annual Maroon Conference in Jamaica 2018
http://maroons-jamaica.com/modules/mod_flipbook_10/tmpl/mobile/index.html?fbclid=IwAR11LyDalD48pX1nrvEN3h_3E-wa2Xrqr0nf84LKfdBkNoBVxxzNuB4O9uo 


References:

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018) http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/LGA33430

Armbruster, S. (2018) Security set for Commonwealth Games, SBS World News video, March 27, https://www.facebook.com/stefarmbruster/videos/433330197103448

Baker, A. (2014) G20 lockdown: the challenge of balancing freedom and security, The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/g20-lockdown-the-challenge-of-balancing-freedom-and-security-32698

Brahm, E. (2009) What is a Truth Commission and why does it matter? Peace and Conflict Review – Volume 3 Issue 2 (Spring 2009), 1-14 http://www.review.upeace.org/pdf.cfm?articulo=83&ejemplar=17

Drum Cussac (2018) Analysis: Security at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Australia. May 14, https://www.drum-cussac.com/blog/commonwealth-games

(B.A.S.E) Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy (2018) A proud message from WAR Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance. ,facebook page, April 14, https://www.facebook.com/brisbaneaboriginal.embassymedia/posts/1600044870045486

Courier Mail (2018), Gold Coast Commonwealth Games: Police to retain search powers, newspaper, http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/gold-coast-commonwealth-games-police-to-retain-search-powers/news-story/3b6e50ccd4496823fae6012ee8d656c4

Fraser, J. (2017) Aboriginal People managing Aboriginal Art, Petition https://www.change.org/p/the-arts-centre-gold-coast-aboriginal-people-managing-aboriginal-art

Fraser, J. (2017) Wrist Damage detail, photograph, September https://www.instagram.com/p/BZiZQlMDdM9/?taken-by=dot_ayu

Ford, M. (2018) Police officer who struck 16yo with baton 12 times outside Byron Bay hostel defends his actions, March 29, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-29/byron-bay-officer-who-struck-teenager-with-baton-defends-actions/9602296

Graham, B. (2018) Woman ‘knocked unconscious’ during Byron Bay arrest, February 13, https://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/news/woman-knocked-unconscious-during-byron-bay-arrest/news-story/7472782dd11e4dccb73e28b4409508eb

Hartnett, A (2018) Camp Freedom Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018. April 20
https://www.facebook.com/albert.hartnett/posts/986664824823397

Hele, M. (2018) These are the suburbs where foreign buyers really want to own Queensland homes, https://www.news.com.au/finance/real-estate/brisbane-qld/these-are-the-suburbs-where-foreign-buyers-really-want-to-own-queensland-homes/news-story/16214ff41b3843675f7140d6f1442934

Hoeben, S. (2018) facebook post, March 31 https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=if%20nimbin%20folks%20dont%20like%20this%20behaviour%20from%20the%20police%20

Legrand, T. & Bronitt, S. (2015) Policing the G20 protests: ‘Too much order with too little law’ revisited. Queensland Review, 22, pp 3-14 doi:10.1017/qre.2015.2


Madden, N. (2014) Brisbane G20: State-of-the-art Police Operations Centre to utilise hundreds of cameras, November 10, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-09/brisbane-g203a-state-of-the-art-police-comand-centre-revealed/5877744


Pierce, J. (2017) Queensland Police unveil top-secret security bunker to protect Gold Coast during Commonwealth Games, October 19, https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/qld/queensland-police-unveil-top-secret-security-bunker-to-protect-gold-coast-during-commonwealth-games-ng-9bd857e08ee96781c488e0b1ab41a7b4


Reagan, J. (2014) Brisbane G20: State-of-the-art Police Operations Centre to utilise hundreds of cameras, ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-09/brisbane-g203a-state-of-the-art-police-comand-centre-revealed/5877744


Reagan, J. (2018) Australian Police Down Rogue Drone at Gold Coast Games
https://dronelife.com/2018/03/27/australian-police-rogue-drone-gold-coast-games/


Roberts, G. (2018) Commonwealth Games facial recognition software to stay, but when will it be used? The Queensland Government won't say, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-19/qldrefuse-to-say-how-it-will-use-new-facial-recognition-software/9677156


Smith, A. (2018) How the Gold Coast games transformed a resort region into a city, April 13, https://theconversation.com/how-the-gold-coast-games-transformed-a-resort-region-into-a-city-94877


Thorpe, M. (2017) https://www.facebook.com/cyberTribegallery/photos/a.197301503673327/1259981534071980/?type=3&theater


Welcome To Country (2018) Media Blackout: the moment police were evicted by Aboriginal protesters, April 16, https://www.welcometocountry.org/police-evicted-by-aboriginal-protesters/


Wharton, R. (2018) Transcribed from Protesters Block Queen's Baton Relay by 7 News Brisbane, a video embedded in the online article titled 5 Reasons to join the Commonwealth Games Protests featured on the website Welcome To Country (2018) https://www.welcometocountry.org/5-reasons-to-join-the-2018-commonwealth-games-protests/


Wharton, R. (2018) May 20 Facebook Live video
https://www.facebook.com/ruby.wharton/videos/vb.100000364083234/1826451290710323/?type=3

Monday, November 7, 2016

Honouring Water in Vancouver

'Dying of Thirst' an Indigenous screen gathering put together by artist/curators Tannis Nielsen (Canada) and Jenny Fraser (Australia) to showcase and honour tribal lands and waterways was held in Vancouver on Thursday October 27th. Featuring a range of performances and moving image works from Canada, Australia and Mexico representing various artforms and cultural backgrounds including Aboriginal, Native Canadian, Mayan and others. The event was held in solidarity for the many water protectors campaigning around the world at the moment, particularly the struggle at Standing Rock in the neighbouring Turtle Island community. 
Dying of Thirst : Thirst Days
"With this video program we affirm the urgency of defending land and water, now and for the next seven generations to come. We compel the viewer towards taking action in the protection of our planet and present some of the voices of international indigenous women’s struggle and resistance, safeguarding our inter-connectedness with the sacredness of all living things. These voices speak to the recognition and respect of indigenous sovereignty and against the colonial, capitalist resource extraction industries that rape our ancestral territories. They speak toward the seen and the known; animated in their resistance by the fires of prophecy, the love of the land, the people(s), and all of our relations. By sharing these subjectivities and prophecies we hope to begin to recognize each other, to unify and work together toward building an encyclopedia of international emancipatory strategies" affirmed curators Tannis Nielsen and Jenny Fraser. 
Jenny Fraser and Tannis Nielsen (Via Skype) introducing Dying of Thirst 2016 photo by Mique'l Dangeli
Local Coast Salish woman Lee Maracle commented in a new video for this screen conversation between Indigenous Women Internationally. Lee Maracle is from the Sto:Lo nation. She was born in Vancouver and grew up on the north shore. She is the author of Ravensong and Daughters Are Forever. Throughout her entire career, Lee Maracle has advocated tirelessly towards women’s, land and water rights. Known internationally as an acclaimed poet, Lee’s voice was sought for the territorial and geographical grounding of the exhibitions concept. Work from other artists included Mique'l Dangeli (Tsimshian), Jenny Fraser (Yugambeh), Helen Knott (Dane-Zaa), Zoila Jiménez (Mayan), Jules Koostachin (Cree/Attawapiskat), Tannis Nielsen (Métis/Anishnawbe + Danish), Rona Scherer (Mamu + Kuku Yalanji), Alex Wilson (Neyonawak Inniwak Opaskwayak Cree), Rita Wong. 
Lee Maracle on video for Dying of Thirst 2016 photo by Jenny Fraser
Lori Blondeau performed live at the event, and appropriate to the title “offerings’, Lori graciously offered the creation of a new work, specifically ‘gifted’ towards the Dying of Thirst thematic of water and resistance. The performance was also a tribute to Inuk woman artist Annie Pootoogook who recently died and was pulled from the water in Ottowa, a tragic loss to the Native Canadian Artworld. This month Lori won an excellence award in her home Territory of Saskatchewan. She describes her performance art as high-tech storytelling, drawing from personal experience. “My own stories, my mothers and grandmothers, I draw from the women in my life that are close to me, my experience being an Indigenous person living in this crazy time". She has also recently been concentrating on water in her work such as a focus on the historic Mistassiny stone, blown up while creating the Gardiner Dam. “I wanted to pay homage to the people who have fought to preserve these sites, to these stones that represent who we are as Plains Indians. Elbow kept a remnant of Mistassiny at the Elbow marina so I did a photo shoot of me wrapped up in red velvet on top of it” said Lori Blondeau. 
Lori Blondeau performing 'offerings' live for Dying of Thirst 2016 photo by Jenny Fraser
The Vancouver opening ceremony for 'Dying of Thirst' also included a 'Feast for the Peace' organised by Rita Wong, sharing food in solidarity with the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land, who delayed clear cutting for 62 days in -30 weather this past winter. The proposed Site C dam would flood over 100 km of the Peace River Valley, destroying the last 20% of the free running Peace River. This $9 billion dollar dam violates treaty rights and is currently being challenged by several law suits. Instead of waiting for the law to rule, the BC government has instead started clear cutting the river valley to prepare for this mega dam. There is still time to stop this mega dam, which would take 9 years to build. If built, it would likely be used to power fracking and the tar sands, since there is no domestic demand for its energy. The dam will destroy a crucial wildlife corridor that stretches from the Yukon to the Yellowstone and reduce much needed forests that capture carbon in a time of global warming. It would also destroy fertile soil for farming, and make Peace farmers homeless. The intention behind the feast was to honour the food that the land provides, and to assert its importance to our future. 
Feast for the Peace for Dying of Thirst 2016 photo by Alisha Weng
Mique'l Dangeli on video for Dying of Thirst 2016 photo by Jenny Fraser
'Dying of Thirst' is part of Thirst Days which is Vivo Media Art Centres monthly series of video, film, performance and ceremony events overseen by the projects curator/artist-in-residence Jayce Salloum. He asks 'how can this, how can we, contribute to the establishing of a momentum that may have once been here in waves or pieces but over time was squandered, and defeated, with the imposition of capital triumphantly declaring its colonial (un)consciousness in our enclave by the water. Surrounded by a possible serene beauty, grief and sadness, love and hate, what encounters do we inscribe into our psyches and into our beings, what can art do to fulfil a mandate of hope and agency. What can we contribute?'
'offerings' performance remains by Lori Blondeau for Dying of Thirst 2016 photo by Alisha Weng


Dying of Thirst Curated by

Tannis Nielsen + Jenny Fraser

VIVO Media Arts Presents

thirstDays

No. 09

Love, intimacy and

(com)passion, in a

geopolitical context
Thirst Days http://thirstdays.vivomediaarts.com 

facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/1824785947752218
Dying of Thirst Program : 
Tannis Nielsen + Jenny Fraser
Lee Maracle
Lee Maracle
15:00, video, 2016
Throughout her entire career, Lee Maracle has advocated tirelessly towards women’s, land and water rights. Known internationally as an acclaimed poet, Lee’s voice and wisdom was immediately identified to be a central component of our project as we recognized her as being the impetus, embodiment – territorial and geographical grounding of our concept.
Mique'l Dangeli
Sm Łoodm ‘Nüüsm (Mique'l Dangeli) +  Tim-kyo’o’hl Hayats’kw (Nick Dangeli)
Aks Gyigyiinwa̱xł (water prayer)
video, Sm'algyax (Tsimshian) with English subtitles, Nick Dangeli: camera; Duane R. Grant: sound, 2016
The making of this film is a prayer offered by a mother and son (Diiłda Noo ada Ługuułgm), spoken in Tsimshian (Sm’algya̱x). Bringing together cedar, eagle down, copper, and ocean, it calls upon us to think critically about our relationships to the precious life-giving waterways inside our bodies and those of fresh and salt water that we are surrounded by. It is made in solidarity with efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, to protect the flora beds around Lelu Island, to end Transboundary Mining, and with all people who are resisting capitalism by challenging resource extraction, defending salmon habitats, and praying with and for water around the world.
Jenny Fraser
Jenny Fraser
Saltwater Freshwater
15:51, video, 2016
Jenny speaks toward the history, memory, arts, culture and society of her home territory in Australia. She discusses the destruction of territory – sacred places – and the negative effect upon her Peoples, while simultaneously calling upon the audience to resist environmental degradation and the importance of working together as community to create change.
Zoila Jiménez
Zoila Jiménez
Mayan Lords Knowledge
1:50, video, 2016
Zoila Jimenez presents teachings about her significant relationship to water from a Mayan perspective.
Jules Koostachin
Jules Koostachin
NiiPii - Water Teaching
6:33, video, 2016
My grandparents taught me if we continue to disregard the gifts of the Earth, Water and the Sky then we are no longer living, we are merely surviving.

Although the verbal communication between Jules’ Cree grandparents and her was severed because of the residential school experience, they continued to build their relationship by spending a lot of time together in the north. She spent much of her childhood observing her grandparents and helping them clean and smoke hide, she also supported the household with chores like preparing hide, cutting wood and fetching water. Her family never really spoke about the experiences of being Native; they lived their lives together and enjoyed the company of family, friends and community.  Her family comes from the Moskekowok territory, both her grandparents (non-English speakers) are hunters and trappers, and lived off the land for most of their lives. This land-based existence was part of the everyday, the respect for land, sky and water was inherent, it wasn’t spoken about -- they lived it.  
Rona Scherer
Rona Scherer
Spirit Flow
1:46 video, 2016
"For over 75,000 Aboriginal people of Australia have had a wonderful and consistent involvement with water. It forms part of our stories, our dreaming, our living, our agriculture, our play, in fact, it’s pretty much a part of everything we are as Aboriginal people. In less than 250 years since European settlement, our waterways are now struggling. The new settlers to this country, had no knowledge or ignored basic science of how trees draw water to the surface of the land, cutting and clearing great swathes of land for their own agricultural or construction purposes. This process not only denied Aboriginal people access to traditional food sources and their own country, but it has caused many parts to be now arid with high salinity and slow running or dry river beds. Once crystal clear waterways, now run murky with silt washed down through generations of inappropriate farming techniques causing imbalance where dependent ecosystems struggle to survive. In western countries, where a household can use up to 20 litres of fresh water daily to flush toilets, we must take advantage of innovative products humans so brilliantly devise to stem this abhorrent waste of water. We must do it now, before it is too late.”
Alex Wilson
Alex Wilson
10:00, video, 2016
Dr. Wilson is one of many organizers with the Idle No More movement, integrating radical education movement work with grassroots interventions that prevent the destruction of land and water. She is particularly focused on educating about and protecting the Saskatchewan River Delta and supporting community based food sovereignty efforts. Having co-developed a Masters program in Land-Based Education at the University of Saskatchewan, she is now in the process of creating an international Indigenous Landbased PhD program.
Rita Wong
Rita Wong
Feast for the Peace
Tonight we’ll Feast for the Peace, sharing food in solidarity with the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land, who delayed clear cutting for 62 days last winter. Helen Knott, from the Prophet River First Nation, is one of the people named in BC Hydro’s SLAPP suit against Peace River protectors. The Site C dam would flood and destroy 100 km of wildlife habitat and farmland. This $9 billion dollar megadam violates treaty rights and is challenged by several law suits. Not waiting for the courts, BC has started clear cutting the river valley. There is still time to stop this dam that would be used to power fracking and the tar sands. We feast to honour the food that the land provides, and to assert its importance to our future.

Helen Knott
Helen Knott: On the Site C Treaty
5:00, video, camera: Reg Whiten, 2016
Helen Knott, Dane-Zaa Activist from Prophet River First Nations speaks about her call to protect the homelands of the Treaty 8 region and development of a third Dam on the Peace River (Site C). Helen shares her views on the importance of the sacred peace treaty, and doing what she can to raise awareness about the potential for permanent loss of critical heritage, old growth forest river ecosystems, and fish/wildlife habitat in the Peace River Valley.
Lori Blondeau
Lori Blondeau
offerings
20:00, performance, 2016
Appropriate to the title 'offerings’ Lori is graciously offering us the creation of a new work, specifically ‘gifted’ towards the dying of thirst  thematic of water and resistance.


'Deluge' video artwork by Tannis Nielsen screening for Dying of Thirst 2016

Tannis Nielsen
Deluge
1:30, video, 2016
Being screened in VIVO’s lobby entrance, inspired by Winona Laduke’s quote “women are the direct manifestation of Earth in human form”, Tannis performs the idea of this, by embodying the pain and violence upon Indigenous women’s bodies caused by resource extraction industries.  
Tannis Nielsen
Binaakwe-Giizis/falling leaves moon
2:00, video, 2014
For the past seven years Tannis has been utilizing static electricity, water and the reflections and sound of both the sun and moon on bodies of water in order to speak toward Anishnawbe stories of creation. The ambient images animated here were recorded under a full moon, on lake ontario. The video was later mirrored and slowed down so that the viewer may be better abled to access the sentient being of water. Using two channel projections of water, Tannis provides the elemental fundamental linkages between the women’s voices/video who are heard speaking about water here.


Biographies :

As a Cree/Saulteaux artist, Lori Blondeaus artistic practice continues to explore the influence of popular media and culture (contemporary and historical) on Aboriginal self-identity, self-image, and self-definition. She has been an artist, instructor, and curator for the last 20 years and is currently exploring the impact of the colonization of traditional and contemporary roles and lifestyles of Aboriginal women by strategically deconstructing popular images of the Indian Princess and the Squaw. Blondeau uses humour as a performative storytelling strategy to reconstruct these stereotypes, reveal their absurdity, and reinsert them into the mainstream. The performance personas she creates, like Belle Sauvage, refer to the damage of colonialism and to the ironic pleasures of displacement and resistance. 

Mique'l Dangeli was born and raised in Metlakatla, Alaska. She belongs to the Lax̱sgiik (Eagle Clan) and carries the Tsimshian name, Sm Łoodm ’Nüüsm and Tlingit name Táakw Shaawát. She served her community for eight years as the director of the Duncan Cottage Museum. She has also worked for the Annette Island Service Unit in Metlakatla as the curator of their Healing Art Collection. She is a dancer, choreographer, and dance group leader. Since 2003 she and her husband, Nisga’a/Tsimshian/Tlingit artist, carver, and singer Mike Dangeli, have shared the leadership of the Git Hayetsk (People of the Copper Shield), an internationally renowned Northwest Coast dancing group. She is currently an Assistant Professor, at the University of Alaska

Jenny Fraser was the first Murri to have her video art broadcast into outer space in the 2015 Forever Now project – a follow-up to the NASA Voyager Golden Records sent into space in 1977. She has a PhD in the Art of Healing and Decolonisation from Batchelor Institute in the Northern Territory (Australia). Jenny recently received the 2016 Mana Wairoa Award for Advancing Indigenous Rights, and she received an Australia Council fellowship for her project Midden in 2012. She founded the online gallery cyberTribe in 1999, the Blackout Collective in 2002, andWorld Screen Culture in 2015. She is on the National Advisory Group for the Centre for Indigenous Story, and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at The Cairns Institute.

Zoila Jiménez was born in 1978 and is a native of Merida, Mexico.  She studied at the Autonomous University of Yucatán in the Faculty of Anthropological Sciences in the specialty of Social Anthropology where she completed her  thesis ‘Religious diversity. Beliefs and rituals in a Mayan community.’’ Her work focused on the the Department of Social Sciences at the Autonomous University of Yucatan, in the CIESAS Peninsular, The University of Florida and the Center for Comparative Migration Studies at the University of California-San Diego.  Zoila is part of theKayche Collective that runs El Festival de Cine y Video Kayche' Tejidos Visuales, “which is a window that evokes dialogue in order to promote self-representation, and demand catalysts for change in an unequal world.”

Jules Koostachin is Cree from Attawapiskat First Nation. She was born in Moose Factory, northern Ontario. Her grandparents in Moosonee raised her, as did her mother, a survivor of Ste. Anne’s residential school. After many years as a performance artist she completed graduate school at Ryerson University in Documentary Media where she was awarded an Award of Distinction and an Academic Gold Medal for her thesis Remembering Inninimowin. Her activism, artistic and educational endeavors focus on environmental and Indigenous issues. Jules’ companyVisJuelles Productions Inc. co-produced a youth television series entitled AskiBOYZ. The series was created, written and directed by her and is now airing on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

Lee Maracle is a member of the Sto:Lo nation. She was born in Vancouver and grew up on the north shore. She is the author of Ravensong and Daughters Are Forever. Lee has also published a book of poetry, Bent Box, and a work of creative non-fiction, I Am Woman. She is the co-edited My Home As I Remember and Telling It: Women and Language across Culture. Lee is an instructor at the University of Toronto, Traditional Teacher for First Nations House; the Centre for Indigenous Theatre; S.A.G.E. (Support for Aboriginal Graduate Education); and at the Banff Centre for the Arts. In 2009, she received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from St. Thomas University.
Tannis  Nielsen is of Metis (Anishnawbe) and Danish ancestry. She holds a Masters in Visual Studies from the University of Toronto. Her dissertation addresses the need for asserting localized Indigenous contexts accurately within the structures of the academy by illustrating the negative consequence of colonial trauma on Indigenous culture, land, language, familial relationships, and memory. Tannis’ thesis also sought to decolonize the structures of an English literacy, by repudiating the politicized devices of punctuation and capitalization. In doing this, she refused to use the language of the colonizer because “to use the language of the colonizer was to pay homage to them” (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o). Tannis is currently teaches at The Ontario College of Art and Design University.

Rona Scherer comes from the far North Queensland areas of Australia, born to a Mamu woman and a Kuku Yalanji man. Although her early interest in art through ceramics took a backseat to assisting her children with their education and living costs, a fat tax cheque some years ago allowed her to invest in a camera and begin exploring photography. She hopes to document her people and homelands in a meaningful and connected way. Rona is connected with elders and traditional custodians from other homelands and is looking forward to recording unique moments which do them justice in a cultural context.

Alex Wilson gathered her first lessons on leadership in her home community Opaskwayak Cree Nation. “I have always been surrounded by women who lead, most of them leading steadily, some quietly, a few raucously, but always with love in their actions.” This understanding – that the most valuable leadership is driven by love for the people – has been borne out in her work as a scholar, educator, community activist, and mentor. In 2007, Alex became the first First Nations woman in Canada to receive a doctorate from Harvard University. Her groundbreaking work on the identity development of two-spirit people is widely cited and has become a touchstone for many LGBTQI Indigenous people. As Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education, Alex co-developed a Masters program in Land-Based Education. She is an organizer in Idle No More, which works to honour Indigenous sovereignty, and the protection of land and water. Alex’s home remains in Opaskwayak, where she has helped to established a community garden and nutrition program.

a news article from The Koori Mail, p61, Edition 639 Wednesday November 16, 2016