MIND students collaborating on major Indigenous arts installation
MIND High School is working with Nakuset, a leading activist for the urban indigenous population, on a major art installation led by an internationally renowned French photographer and street artist JR. His “Inside Out” Project is a platform that gives everyone the opportunity to make a statement by displaying large-scale black and white portraits of members from their community in public spaces.
“Inside Out” is a free global art project that allows communities to turn their untold stories and what they stand for into a public work of art. Montreal’s Indigenous community group action is entitled: Indigenous Forced Displacement. Fifty photographs of local Indigenous community members will be displayed throughout the city. These portraits were taken by three different Indigenous photographers representing the Algonquin, Mohawk, and Ojibway nations. They will be mounted on the outsides of buildings in an exhibition designed to highlight the challenge of Indigenous forced displacement.
On Monday, February 21, Head Teacher John Panetta will be taking a group of MIND students to assist Nakuset and her team with the postering for the project at 5795 De Gaspe (11 a.m.) and 7010 Ave Henri Julien (1 p.m). The English Montreal School Board has granted consent for the historic Bancroft Elementary School building on St. Urbain, which houses MIND High School, to be used to feature some of the portraits which will dissolve over time.
Myrianne Lusignan, the Principal of MIND and Bancroft, commented that this represents a tremendous authentic learning experience for the students. Nakuset notes that while Indigenous communities in the Montreal area are diverse, each with their own specific experiences related to the effects of colonization, all have been impacted by historical and contemporary forced displacement. Dispossessed of their ancestral lands, forced to leave their communities to access health care and education and continually required to defend their territory from further encroachment and exploitation, displacement continues to impact Indigenous people throughout Tiohtià:ke.
Indigenous people are also overrepresented among homeless Montrealers. In many cases, they’re Inuit far from their home communities, some of whom were officially displaced thousands of kilometers from home as recently as the 1950s during the High Arctic Relocations. Displacement has been a part of reality for Indigenous peoples on this land since the arrival of Europeans, but today, the most pressing displacement urban Indigenous Montrealers face is the neglect of homeless Indigenous people who have to fight daily for a safe place to sleep that night.
The “Inside Out” project will celebrate 50 members of the Indigenous community, each with their own unique experiences and relationship to the concept of forced displacement. These portraits will be mounted in sets of three, meaning they are seeking 17 buildings around Montreal to grant permission to put the large, three by four feet photographs up on their outside walls.
About the English Montreal School Board
With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 77 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at www.emsb.qc.ca.