InVISIBILITY: Indigenous in the City -- a celebration of urban Aboriginal art, voices, stories

Members of the urban Aboriginal community, including students, parents and teachers from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) will gather at Macdonald block Thursday, June 27 to invite politicians, administrators, policymakers and the public to see, listen and participate in conversations with the Aboriginal community.

It is part of inVISIBILITY: Indigenous in the City, a knowledge mobilization project directed by Professor Susan Dion Invisibilityof York’s Faculty of Education, a national expert in urban Aboriginal education, which includes Carla Rice, Anna Hudson, Tanya Senk and Hannah Fowlie, and is funded by the Social Science & Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The project, in addition to being a  celebration of urban Aboriginal presence, its diversities and complexities, strives to create an indigenous space where urban Aboriginal peoples represent themselves, tell their own stories and invite people to attend, listen and converse.

“I’ve been attending Aboriginal art exhibits, film festival and celebrations in Toronto for years and I love meeting friends, family and Aboriginal colleagues at these events,” says Dion. “As an Aboriginal educator, I go to meetings with people who make policies that impact the lives of Aboriginal people, yet I rarely see these people at our events. I wanted an event that would bring communities together.”

inVISIBILITY: Indigenous in the City is that event. “As indigenous people we always represented ourselves, told our own stories and shared our teachings,” says Dion. “However, up until recently most non-indigenous people have not had much interest in seeing and hearing our experiences and perspectives. I think that’s changing, I think people want to know us.”

In collaboration with the TDSB Aboriginal Education Centre staff, Dion, Rice and Hudson have brought together a thought provoking and exquisite collection of visual art, performance video and digital stories, along with a speaker series that provides the public with multiple opportunities to come together, engage with content and have conversations.

Attend the opening reception at the John B. Aird Gallery, 900 Bay St. (at Wellesley) in Toronto June 27, from 5 to 8pm. Meet the artists and storytellers and experience Aboriginal visibility.

The art exhibition and speaker series will take place at the gallery, Monday to Friday, from 10am to 6pm. It will feature the work of five Aboriginal artists who address questions of urban Aboriginal identity and education. The exhibition includes a series of digital stories created by Aboriginal students, parents and teachers from TDSB.

The artists will include Jeff Thomas, an urban-Iroquois and self-taught photo-based artist; Vanessa Dion Fletcher, a Potawatomi/Lenape working in performance, video, printmaking and beading artist; Beth Kotierk, an Inuk born in Nunavut working in painting, installation, video and performance art; Nigit'Stil Norbert, a Gwichin/Irish/Russian from Yellowknife working in stop-motion, photography, beading and installion; and Walter Kahero:ton Scott, a Mohawk from Kahnawake working in print, video, sculpture and comic books.

Upcoming Speaker series:

June 28, from 4:30 to 6:30pm – artist talks

July 4, from 4:30 to 6:30pm – digital story screening with student, parent and teacher storytellers

July 11, from 4:30 to 6:30pm – film screening and discussion
July 18, from 2:30 to 4:30pm – guest lectures by Verna St. Denis and Jan Hare.

For more information about the gallery, contact Dale Barett at director@airdgallery.org and for the inVISIBILITY Project, contact Susan Dion at sdion@edu.yorku.ca.

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