Lumy (Lourdes Minerva Fuentes) invited me to share with an IWD event she was part of, some thinking around ceramics, art, earth, women, ecology, violence against women, food security, indigenous issues, social justice, housing, advocacy and so on. I promised to do so, looked forward to meeting all these women and I was amazed! I am grateful for my abuela that I was able to hear and understand Spanish, so I heard about the wonderful projects from Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina on soil conservation, biodiversity, food sovereignty. It was an amazing day and I also heard from an old friend Lauren Baker who also spoke in Spanish. When it was my turn to share, Verónica translated. Muchas gracias, Verónica.
I then began with the Land Acknowledgement that my colleague Barry Rieder shared with me and others:
I started working as the Community Minister for Davenport Perth in July 2014. The area was abandoned by industries that went out of business for a few decades, leaving property that became attractive for developers looking for places where they can build. These developments would have been very much welcomed if they considered to house those most vulnerable in our communities. Just before the pandemic, it became clear that this neighbourhood became the second area for increased development in the city. This development is leading to people being evicted from their homes in order for those with large investments can renovate. We call this renoviction. [These buildings are hand built, sandstone, oxide stained at Cone 10.] Again, these developments would be welcome if they considered the wishes of those who live here to house those most vulnerable in our community.
Indigenous and racialized communities are more likely to have exposure to contamination and pollution from industry and are not in positions of power to resist the placement of these polluting industries in their communities.
Our food system is similarly taken over by those with large investments in what we call agribusiness. Policies, practices, institutions, decisions, and laws that control air, land, water and biodiversity have favoured large-scale agribusiness that use large tractors, machineries, biocides and fertilizers over the food sovereignty of small-scale food producers, whether they be small family farmers, indigenous farmers or fishers. The wisdom of our elders, of soil conservation, of protecting water, are contained in fragile vessels that were considered broken. [These fragile vessels are hand built, Cone 10, sandstone, bisque fired.]
While heavily invested industries require the labour of many people from Mexico, Jamaica or the Philippines, Canada’s immigration policies have not allowed permanent residence to workers as required by agribusiness, whether they are in the factory farms in Ontario or the very large meat processing plants in Alberta that saw many workers affected and or killed by COVID.
We do have hope. [This yurt is hand-built, cone 10, bisque fired]. I superimposed a picture of this yurt with two people who were writing their hopes in graffiti on its walls. The yurt is also a symbol of encampments, all the tents that people with no housing are using to protect themselves from the elements. Our hope is that we continue with giving witness and telling stories, just as Lumy helped us in 2019 at the Gardiner Museum’s “Community Arts Project: What We Long For”. We engaged with a thousand pairs of hands in the creation of a thousand clay Monarch butterflies, the metaphor for what we yearn for: a loving community that would honour each other’s gifts and abilities. We want a change in our immigration policies that would advocate a landed status for all. We want to reclaim the ancient wisdom in producing food that honours air, land, water and biodiversity where every person is treated with the same dignity, respect and consideration.
“Tina muchas gracias por el compromiso en tus practicas y obras.” – MediaLab#culturasolidaria