Land Back is focus of travelling Indigenous art exhibition

By Marc Lalonde

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A new art exhibition made up of Indigenous artists focusing on Indigenous stewardship of the land now running in Pointe Claire and in other locations around Montreal will tour the province this summer. The exhibit will be making stops in Quebec City and Saint-Hyacinthe with the idea of highlighting Indigenous-led actions to recover stewardship of traditional lands and ecosystems and protecting them for the coming generations.

The sixth annual Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA) began running at Stewart Hall Art Gallery in Pointe Claire last month, and will run through June 19.

The Land Back exhibition will focus on the Indigenous experience and is curated by BACA director Michael Patten, with the support of guest researcher Alexandra Nordstrom. The exhibitions feature more than fifty Indigenous artists that have never shown in the BACA Biennial.

Different artists’ work will be showcased at the different stops along the tour. For instance, the Stewart Hall exhibition will feature the work of Carrie Allison, Christi Belcourt, Erin Gingrich, Faye HeavyShield, Jeffrey Gibson, Charlene Vickers, Olivia Whetung, Sky Hopinka and Ursula Johnson.

BACA said that the exhibition will focus on the Indigenous relationship with the land upon which they live and have called home for generations.

`How do artists invest in the many aspects of this movement and what forms do they try to give it? Indigenous knowledge is rooted in sustainability, conservation, and reciprocity with the land. How is this knowledge shared, celebrated, and expressed in current artistic practices?’

Patten’s exhibition will highlight many of the recent tragedies and triumphs of the Indigenous experience in Canada.

`This Indigenous-led call to action has gained ground in recent years following the accumulation of events both past and present:

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the National Inquiry about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, the Canadian pipeline and railroad protests of 2020, the 30th anniversary of the Oka Crisis, the still ongoing boil-water advisories and the housing shortage in First Nations and northern communities, the discovery of the unmarked graves of the Residential Schools and the unbolting of the statues of John A. Macdonald across the country. The Land Back movement is a clear call for decolonization,’ BACA said. `How can we best protect the biodiversity, the lands, and the waters? The first step would be to return the land to its traditional, legitimate protectors. The return to Indigenous knowledge goes beyond symbolic gestures of recognition or inclusion to significantly change practices and structures.’

Other Montreal-area exhibitions will take place at Quai 5160 _ Maison de la culture de Verdun, featured artists are Susan Blight, Beric Manywounds, Casey Koyczan, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun in collaboration with Paisley Smith, Michael Namingha and Quinn Hopkins. That exhibition will run until July 3 at 5160 LaSalle Blvd. in Verdun.

At Art Mur, the work of Camille Seaman, Chandra Melting Tallow, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Duane Isaac, Gregg Deal, Jeremy Dennis, Julia Rose Sutherland, Logan MacDonald, Lori Blondeau, Meagan Musseau and Raven Chacon will be featured at 5826 St. Hubert St. until June 18.

Tracey-Mae Chambers will create a site-specific installation in the gallery windows. Next door, BACA’s She:kon Gallery and the daphne Art Center will host two of the three satellite exhibitions, one of Alexis Gros-Louis curated by Terry Randy Awashish and one of Metis artist Suzanne Morrissette.

Finally, the work of western artists Margaret August, Allen James, Beau Dick, Chief Henry Speck, Cole Speck, Don Yeomans and Gigaemi Kukwits will be featured at La Guilde, located at 1356 Sherbrooke St. West through July 10.

For more information on the exhibition, please visit

 Marc Lalonde  is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the  IORI:WASE. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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