Hexsa’am: To Be Here Always
October 5 to December 31, 2019
Central Gallery
Lindsey Willie
Juliana Speier
Darryl Dawson
Tania Willard
Sara Siestreem
Scott Benesiinaabandan
William Wasden Jr.
Diane Roberts
Siku Allooloo
Kamala Todd
Aaron Leon
Althea Thauberger
Nabidu Taylor
Jaymyn La Vallee
Marianne Nicolson
In 1914, delegates of the McKenna-McBride Royal Commission met with Johnny Scow (Kwikwasuti’nuxw), Copper Johnson (Ha’xwa’mis), Dick Webber and Dick Hawkins (Dzawada’enuxw), and Alec Morgan (Gwawa’enuxw), as well as all the Kwakwaka’wakw Chiefs, to establish the land base of the Kwakwaka’wakw group of nations. A century later, in May 2018, the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation launched the first-ever BC Supreme Court case to extend Aboriginal title to the ocean, claiming that the Province does not have the authority to grant tenures to salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago. As two moments in a tangled timeline of resistance, these legal encounters bring forward the ways that cultural practices can bring new realities into being for a community experiencing ongoing social, cultural and ecological effects of colonization and globalizing economics.

Working together at Kingcome Inlet in the summer of 2018, a group of artists used film, video, social media, weaving, animation, drawing, language and song to address the urgent threats to the land and water. A manifestation of the relationships formed between the participants over this past year, this exhibition is based on sharing knowledges and respectful collaboration. Simultaneously research, material, media, testimony and ceremony, Hexsa’am: To Be Here Always challenges the Western concept that the power of art and culture are limited to the symbolic or metaphoric and that the practices of First Peoples are simply part of a past heritage. As Marianne Nicolson states, “We must not seek to erase the influence of globalizing Western culture, but master its forces selectively, as part of a wider Canadian and global community, for the health of the land and the cultures it supports. The embodied practice of ceremonial knowledge relates to artistic experience – not in the aesthetic sense, but in the performative: through gestures that consolidate and enhance knowledge for positive change.” Hexsa’am: To Be Here Always positions the gallery as an active location for this performance, creating generative exchange. Hexsa’am: To Be Here Always is a further iteration of the original exhibition at the UBC Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery from January 11 to April 7, 2019 as part of Mirrored In Stone, a project commissioned with Cineworks in partnership with the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation. The project was made possible with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter fund, the British Columbia Arts Council Youth Engagement Program, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Foundation.

Working with local Secwépemc artist and curator Tania Willard, artists in the exhibition will attend the UBCO summer Indigenous art intensive, with visits to BUSH Gallery, a land-based gallery in Secwépemculecw. There will also be a focus on Syilx territory (Kelowna, BC) and collaboration with the Wild Salmon Caravan. This examination of intra-territoriality and art practice will compliment the exhibition’s concerns, connecting local issues and Indigenous lands through community networks and respectful relations.
View images of the exhibition here.

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