Saagajiwe

Invited to join Ryerson's celebration of "Canada 150", Indigenous artists Billy Merasty and Lila Pine brought critical reflections on Canada’s “past” into the present. Questioning the celebration of 150 years of assimilation built upon 500 years of genocide, we chose to imagine Indigeneity in a space that includes past, present and future. Canada is unsafe for Indigenous People. The only safe place for many of us is home. So, with the help of Jimmy Dick and Marie Gaudet we put up a tipi to symbolize home.

Since Ryerson University was our site and Egerton Ryerson was responsible for residential schools, we decided to bring the names of 150 children who died while at residential school into the tipi, symbolically bringing them home. Johnny Moore lit and tended a sacred fire for four days and four nights to honour the children. The names, laser printed onto cedar planks, hung from the tipi poles. While sitting below them, Billy told stories of home. On the last day, NishDish provided a feast as the names were called out one by one and put on the fire. The ashes were spread in Lake Ontario.

       
       
       
       
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