The award recognizes the Walking With Our Sisters exhibition that took place in Ottawa from September 25 to October 16. The exhibition was hosted at Carleton’s gallery and was presented in partnership with Gallery 101.
Gallery 101 is a non-profit artist-run centre in Ottawa, Ontario, dedicated to the professional presentation and circulation of visual and media art. Each year, the gallery presents a stimulating array of solo and curated group exhibitions of Canadian and international contemporary artists. The Gallery 101 was a lead partner for the exhibition in Ottawa.
The exhibition featured approximately 2,000 pairs of vamps (the decorated upper part of a moccasin), which were created in memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The vamps were made by hundreds of people around the world, in response to a call from Métis artist Christi Belcourt.
The work existed as a floor installation made up of beaded vamps arranged in a winding path formation on fabric and included cedar boughs, a traditional medicine in many Indigenous cultures. The centrepiece was a canoe, an homage to the Algonquin people who traditionally travelled the rivers through what is now Ottawa.
Viewers removed their shoes to walk on a path of cloth alongside the vamps in order to reflect on the enormity of loss. The traveling exhibition was designed as a cultural memorial to draw attention to the injustice of missing and murdered Indigenous women and residential schools. It is estimated that between 600 and 1,200 Native women have gone missing or have been murdered in the last 20 years.
The fundraising and production of the exhibition was all volunteer driven. Gallery 101 would like to recognize all the volunteers and elders involved in this project. Further, we would like to extend congratulations to Sandra Dyck, Director of the Carleton University Art Gallery, along with all other CUAG staff and student volunteers. We would also like to extend our further appreciation to the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences at Carleton University for additional financial support.
I would also like to personally extend my appreciation to Laura Margita, Gallery 101’s Director / Curator and Georgia Mathewson, Gallery 101’s Administrator for assisting and contributing to the vision of this exhibition. We acknowledge that engaging with the aftermath of violence through exhibitions and memorials, and curating “difficult knowledge”, can be an incredibly laborious and exhaustive task. We applaud them for their successful effort.