Whose stories are we missing when we speak about land and freedom? It’s a profoundly important question for artists, Cheryl L’Hirondelle and Camille Turner, who share a keen interest in the mapping of public memory — our countless stories untold and songs unsung.
Their Freedom Tours project for LandMarks 2017/Repères 2017 focuses on Ontario’s Thousand Islands National Park and Rouge National Urban Park. As the oldest park east of the Rockies, the Thousand Islands is rich in diverse, place-based narratives. The artists will host boat tours of the area that reimagine some of these histories in song. The Park comprises Akwesasne Mohawk lands and, given the proximity of the waters to America, borderlands — so the storytelling potential is vast. Conversely, the Rouge is the nation’s youngest urban park. In early 2017, the Park was allotted new acreage by the House of Commons, as well as new protections for its ecosystems, wildlife and proximal farms. In the case of the Rouge, the artists will conduct walking tours, to explore lesser-known area landmarks, inviting the public to join them in making flags and marching together to celebrate species and diversity in the park. This dynamic artist pairing is inspired by concerns about freedom that drive both L’Hirondelle’s work with incarcerated women and song, and Turner’s enquiry into underrepresented histories of the black experience in Canada.
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