Location: Artspace Building, corner of Bannatyne @ Arthur [sidewalk level]

window is pleased to present our forty-sixth installation:

North of 56

Featuring Ripples by Nico Williams and curated by Lesley Beardy,

on view until January 7, 2020.

Tansi, Boozhoo, Aniin, Hello to all,

I would first like to acknowledge the land and waters in which we are situated today on Treaty One Territory, which is the traditional territory of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. In the Neheyew language of my ancestors, Winnipeg means "muddy waters." And so, this site and in the space of Window Winnipeg is an important opportunity to give visual sovereignty to this issue of clean drinking water in our communities.

I recently visited three communities north of the 56th parallel: Lynn Lake, Leaf Rapids, and South Indian Lake. When I reached Lynn Lake, I was appalled to find out that the water was brown and not drinkable. And in South Indian Lake, one elder shared, "All of my childhood memories are under water, due to the impacts of MB hydro flooding our territory." Two of these three communities are under a long-term provincial water advisory. It is 2019 and today we have 42 municipalities in Manitoba that are under a water advisory. To the rest of the world Canada looks like a leader, however Indigenous people in Canada experience living in third world conditions everyday. It has been this way for many of us since the beginning of colonization. I think it is time that Canada takes a deeper look inwards and repair this important issue.

To all the people in Canada living without clean drinking water, I admire your courage to endure this problem, everyday. And to Lynn Lake, Leaf Rapids, and South Indian Lake, for sharing your knowledge and resistance. To Shoal Lake 40, who has been supplying drinking water to Winnipeg since 1919 while having none for themselves, I have no words.

To turn to the artwork of Nico Williams, who has created this piece from a similar experience to my own. Ripples sheds light on not only the issue of clean drinking water and the sociopolitical issue of climate change. The circular form of this creative piece is woven together with delica beads representing mother earth and blue beads signify the sacred waters - as human beings we all laid in the medicinal waters of our mothers' wombs. The black beads represent the venomous toxins that we have placed on mother earth. The other beads are a mixture of other blues and green, representing the land and other bodies of water. Finally, the orange signifies the eighth fire that burns deep within this generation of Indigenous people: we have always been stewards of the land and have respected all animate and inanimate objects on this earth. This artwork symbolizes the collective hope for all life on mother earth. With Nico Williams, we use art as a tool to bring awareness to the crisis of drinking water, which is an everyday struggle for many people in this country and a site of learning.

Kiche Miigwetch to the curatorial team; Sarah N., Mariana, and the lovely Noor! The Anishinaabe artist, Nico Williams. The sponsors Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council. Thank you once again for giving space to such an important issue for all our relatives.

-Lesley Beardy


About the artist:

Nico Williams is Ojibwe from Aamjiwnaang First Nation. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions across Canada and internationally. He's an active member in the urban Indigenous Montreal Arts community and is a board member for the Biennale d'Art Contemporain Autochtone (Contemporary Native Art Biennial). In 2018, he was a part of a feature article and film spot in National Geographic. In January 2019, he became a core member in the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork team at a research and creation session "Art, Architecture, and Models of Hyperbolic Energy" at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United of America. Nico Williams recently was awarded the winner of the 2019 John Fluevog Shoes Emerging Artist Grant.

About the curator:

Lesley Beardy is an indigenous Ikwe/iskew. She comes from the seventh generation of leaders from the Missipawistic Cree Nation. Lesley is the liaison for the Indigenous Way of Life with Frontier School division. Her passions include education, history, and Indigenous culture. She believes that art is a form of healing and can speak to all peoples with a glimpse of real perceptions of what life is like for Indigenous people in Canada. Lesley has also been a guest curator for Glam Collectives Memory Keepers Exhibition in Nuit Blanche at Montreal in March 2019.

window is located on Treaty 1 Territory, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples and the homeland of the Metis Nation. Window is co-curated by Noor Bhangu, Mariana Muñoz Gomez, and Sarah Nesbitt.

This installation was made possible with the generous support from the Winnipeg Arts Council and the Manitoba Arts Council.