One of my favourite Thomas King novels turned into a movie but I didn’t get to see it. A pretendian made it. Therefore it was taken off all media platforms.
It made me anxious “am I indigenous?” I asked my dad after I saw that. “Of course you are!” He replied back, almost angry. But how could I know for sure? I have my status card… Is that enough to be Indigenous? When I tell them I am Metis there is a pause. “But how native are you?” a girl in my university class once said this to me.
I get it, I am very white. “White presenting” as they call it. I grew up in a very wealthy community in the Canadian Rockies where the town is full of rich settler history. Literally.
But growing up in the mountains I have a unique connection to this land. I’ve used my connection and privilege in my art practice giving voices to our four legged friends.
During my artist residency at Banff Centre I thought it was the perfect opportunity to explore my roots. Surrounded by supportive mentors and faculty they helped me find out that my ancestors were Cree elders from the Red River Settlement in Manitoba and my great grandparents were “halfbreeds” residing in Regina Beach, they spoke Michif, Cree and French and did not believe in the colonial education system.
It’s exhausting to always have to explain who you are…. What you are.
For my project Halfbreed, I took my grandfather's birth certificate and retraced it to bring out the bigoted language used and photoshopped it over one of my photos. A family collaboration. I hung it in a gallery so I wouldn’t have to explain who I was any more. If you just read the birth certificate, I’m a Halfbreed.
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