Curated by Jessica Johns
Room magazine and Indigenous Brilliance are proud to showcase the brilliant work of ten Indigenous women, Two Spirit, and Indigiqueer artists in open link in new tab. These artists, Helen Knott, Cassandra Blanchard, Molly Cross-Blanchard, Justin Ducharme, Francine Cunningham, Edzi’u, Jody Okabe, Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros, Jade Baxter, and Jaz Whitford weave together texts, video, and artwork to give us small glimpses of their thoughts and lives in this time of self isolation and physical distancing.
Following Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s discussions about worldbuilding and the idea of planting seeds in the present to imagine a better future for ourselves and our kin, I’d asked these artists to think through what it means to worldbuild in such unprecedented circumstances. What they came up with was aching ruminations about art, family, language, moments of tenderness, and glimpses of sadness and joy.
Kinship relations and community care are necessary for Indigenous folks’ survival, and these artists made me think about the ways in which we reimagine practices of being together when our realities become altered. open link in new tab brings together artwork that seems to speak to one other in a thoughtful way, a knowing that runs deep and heavy.
Jessica Johns is a nehiyaw-english-irish aunty and member of Sucker Creek First Nation in Treaty 8 territory in northern Alberta. She is the managing editor for Room magazine.
Helen Knott is a Dane Zaa, nehiyaw and mixed Euro woman that released her debut memoir, In My Own Moccasins in the fall of 2019.
Cassandra Blanchard was born in Whitehorse, Yukon and is a part of the Selkirk First Nation. Fresh Pack of Smokes is her first book. She currently lives on Vancouver Island.
Molly Cross-Blanchard is a Métis writer, Poetry Editor at PRISM, Assistant to the ED at BCYBP, and author of I Don’t Want to Tell You.
Justin Ducharme is a filmmaker, writer, dancer and curator from the small Métis community of St. Ambroise on Treaty 1 Territory. He currently lives and works on Unceded Coast Salish Territory.
Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous writer, artist and educator. Her debut book of poetry is titled ON/Me. You can find more about her at www.francinecunningham.ca
Edzi’u is a 2spirit Tahltan and Taku River Tlingit sound and text artist. Her work as a multi-medium storyteller centres resisting colonial narratives.
Jody Okabe is a Queer, Tsimshian, Japanese + French Musician. She is currently working on her first album.
Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros is an urban Indigi-queer born into diaspora. Her people come from Brazil (linking back to Africa through the slave trade), and the Mistawasis Cree nation.
Jade Baxter is Nlaka’pamux from Skuppah – independent filmmaker/artist. Utilizing filmmaking for salish stories and anti-colonialism while working to understand what ndn cinematic protocol can be.
Jaz Whitford is a 2 spirit anti-professional, working as an interdisciplinary artist with a focus on decolonization and indigenous autonomy. they are a defender of the sacred and use their craft as a tool to decolonization and land sovereignty. they and their fire are from the secwepemc nation of the south central interior of so called british columbia.
Image: Bush Business, Jade Baxter.