Toronto ‘. Trialogue
by Guy Sioui Durand
Note the apostrophe added at the end of Toronto ‘ . Linguistic symbol which indicates a cut in the sound in its name in Huron-Wendat language, it conceals a great significance. It supposes to dream. This is the inspiration behind this original Toronto Aboriginal contemporary art project . ‘ Trialogue, produced by Le Labo, a francophone media arts center in Toronto. My thoughts as guest curator are those of a Huron-Wendat accomplice of the works of the artist Ilnu Sonia Robertson and the Abénaki and Franco-Quebec artist Simon M. Benedict presented in the Y gallery of the YYZ center at 401 Richmond.
The other key word is that of Trialogue . Not only does it account for the communicational structure of the in situ creation residency in three phases over three months [i] , in a trio to imagine, understand differently, in a “wild” way in the sense of rebellious and untamed, the nature of today’s megalopolis.
In fact, in the course of our expeditions, discussions and mediations on the spot, little by little, this Aboriginal Toronto ‘ takes shape in three sketches.
First, this is where “trees grow in water”. Indeed, from the Great Lakes and their thunderous fall to the sacred islands, here are fluid shores that are reflected in this forest of metal and glass that is this wall of skyscrapers.
Second, there is this network of trails that have become streets, trains, buses and subways that connect to the three important rivers that crisscross it, the Humber, Don and Rouge rivers being the morphological and historical markers.
Third, the beavers still present on the shores, in the parks and in the woods keep alive this cartography of the fur trade at the heart of relations between the Peoples of the longhouses both of the Huron-Wendat Confederation and of the Haudenosaunees and of the camps. tent nomads of the Mississaugas with these French coureurs des bois from Fort Rouillé and then these stores bearing the “Hudson’s Bay Company” coat of arms, which are still there in the old town center.
Water, trees and poles
The waters that surround and flow through it map Toronto ‘ . Doesn’t the poetic expression “where the trees grow in the water” recall the ancient glacial lake Iroquois, disappeared, but which certain contours of the Humber, Don and Rouge rivers suggest? It is also “where we plant poles” in the shape of a trap to catch fish. This power of the place undoubtedly comes from these Great Lakes – Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie – whose waves empty into each other until the roar of the Onguiaahra falls ‘, the thunderous falls towards Lake Ontario’ in which bathe the Toronto Islands ‘. In May, there were three of us doing the tour. We feel this fluid energy to the sound rhythm of the waves, as if they were tirelessly trying to redraw its island contours. There were dikes and… big broken trees! Named Menissing , elders Mississaugashad made it a sacred place of healing and funeral. Inspired, Robertson will stay there in July. When we return by ferry, a strong impression catches our eyes. Here is this urban forest made of upper trees of metal and glass, these skyscrapers that reflect the waters of the Great Lake. The image suggests that they have infiltrated underground to connect to the three rivers in the city: to the Humber River, a common trail of the Iroquois, Hurons, French and English of Lake Ontario ‘ at Lake Simcoe; to the Don River, a fishing ground and camp for Mississaugas warriors, and to the Red River, which has become a protected ecological zone. Their stories of flooding through a long history of passages,
Longhouses, Forts and Skywalkers
The human geography of this water-based Toronto emerges from it. As long as one acquiesces in the prospect of watercourses and paths connecting to the network of subways, surface trains and buses and rivers, somewhere Nature and urbanity merge . First there were the ancient Huron towns of Maisons Longues whose sites and ossuaries bear witness to their presence as far as Lake Simcoe. There is Teiaiagon, Haudenosaunee village, the Fort Rouillé of French fur traders and, a little later, the general stores of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the old town center. The time came for the territories to be populated after the long period of the fur trade with the Newcomers. From Kanata ‘we will go to Canada. Numerous wampums and treaties today attest to all these layers of stands. However, above these maps, the large cranes in the sky remind us that some 800 Mohawks, among the 3000 “ironworkers”, are still these “superhero” “skywalkers” who, after the Quebec Bridge, the city of New York, are building the future there, in particular these new large buildings that rival the famous CN Tower, the city’s emblem.
Furs, coureurs des bois and explorers
What is colloquially known as the “fur trade” is in fact a historical and commercial trialogue between the Aboriginal peoples, the French and the English, and then their Canadian descendants. It is made up of alliances and mapped routes that the Huron-Wendat will take first to the posts, counters and towns, then conversely, the coureurs des bois crisscrossing the territories. The park dedicated to Étienne Brûlé on the banks of the Humber River, the first French explorer to pass there in 1605 under the orders of Champlain, is remembered by the fur route by the river. The coats of arms of the Hudson’s Bay Company in which appear the beaver and the moose, point to the northern trade route in the furrow of Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Médard Chouart Des Groseillers joining forces with the English in 1670[ii] .
Toronto ‘ is therefore dotted with Aboriginal urban signs. But above all a Toronto ‘Aboriginal art is active!
An Aboriginal Toronto of Art
It is undoubtedly the places of art in Toronto that stand out. They have never been so open to contemporary Aboriginal artists and works. The contemporary artistic environment has never been more effervescent.
The Art Gallery of Ontario opens the scent with the Facing the Monumental exhibition by Anishinaabe artist Rebecca Belmore and the Inuit Tunirrusiangit by the duo Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak. This continues the exhibition of Six Nations Mohawk artist Shelley Niro at the Ryerson Image Center with in addition to Acts That Fade Away, the video by Nadia Myre, and the in situ work newlandia: debaabaminaagwad by Scott Benesiinaabandan. I still think of Coming Home to Indigenous Place Names in Canadaby Margaret Pearce, this fascinating geographic map naming, after consultation with local First Nations archives and resources, all places in Kanata ‘in their local Indigenous languages. She was featured in the Diagrams of Power exhibit at Onsite OCAD University Gallery which has a Department of Indigenous Visual Culture. Add to this the involvement of the imagineNATIVE organization in promoting indigenous films. In addition, there was the great pan-Canadian project Resilience , curated by Lee-Ann Martin, projecting on large billboards 50 works by as many of the most renowned Indigenous women artists in the country. On the one located at 1 rue Richmond, corner rue Yonge, Robertson is showing his famous installationDialogue between her and me (Skol, Tïöhtià: ke / Montreal, 2001) in which fur coats seem to fly away.
Toronto ‘ does not therefore usurp its status as a place of exchanges, alliances and artistic gatherings by giving an increasingly fair share to the artists of the founding First Peoples in Kanata ‘. It is to this effervescent context that the creation residency and the resulting exhibition Toronto ‘ are grafted . Trialogue.
Beavers, trade and water routes
Robertson est une « femme-territoire »[iii]. Elle habite et rêve les lieux. Elle en ressent l’esprit pour créer ses œuvres. Dans la langueur de la canicule, elle a résidé à Artscape Gibraltar Point, pris le traversier, parcouru la cité à vélo et marché les alentours de l’édifice du 401 Richmond. Outre nos échanges et ses recherches, des indices, des signes locaux allaient l’inspirer.
Le premier sera l’omniprésence du castor. Un premier élément déclencheur sera l’apparition inouïe de l’un d’eux trainant une branche de tremble dans un parc de la ville. Relayée dans les médias sociaux, la scène captée par un quidam est devenue virale. S’en allait construire un barrage et inonder les arbres, expliquant que Toronto’ est « là où les arbres poussent dans l’eau » ? Il a surtout réveillé chez Robertson sa lignée familiale de commerçants de fourrures, ainsi que les anciennes routes d’eau des Innus pour commercer avec leurs alliés. L’autre stimulation viendra du passé manufacturier de lingerie et de couture des édifices du quartier.
Circulez lentement, regardez attentivement, écoutez. L’espace de la galerie laisse serpenter une rivière de tissus qui ne forment qu’un élément avec une grande peau de castor. Des sons en émanent et des images du grand lac Ontario’ en émanent. Dans son installation, les voies d’eau rejoignent le monde ouvrier des femmes. Bien tendu un castor mythologique est aussi en suspension. Fabriqué de peaux agencées et œuvrées finement, laissant apercevoir cette transformation des poils en feutre, qui était la grande demande européenne pour les fourrures d’Amérique du Nord. Il installe ce Toronto’ autochtone.
Cartographies, archives et mouvance
Benedict circule parmi plusieurs territorialités. Mieux, il les fait bouger en triades. Abénaki ayant vécu hors-réserve à Trois-Rivières, diplômé en arts de l’Université Concordia à Tiöhtià:ke (Montréal) et de l’Université de Guelph, il habite à Toronto’. Couplé à sa passion de circuler, notamment avec son chien Bashu dans la cité, ses parcs et rivières, Benedict fréquente aussi avec constance les lieux d’art et de culture. Tout en ayant dans son carquois artistique la vidéo et la photographie, mais aussi cette notion de vidéo-performance, l’artiste fait du nomadisme visuel un élément fondamental de son art axé sur la nervosité des nouveaux médias. Il y va de l’alternance entre le mouvement performé et l’épuration calme.
Sa participation au projet Toronto’. Trialogue a ramené en surface de précédentes incursions et recherches sur la genèse autochtone du territoire torontois, ainsi que des questionnements sur ses origines. Il a scruté plus intensément, lors des phases de résidence créative, tant des archives photographiques, cartographiques, et télévisuelles, cette fois pour leurs potentiels d’activation vidéographique.
Regardeur, prends le temps de visionner ce « voir le voir » animé. Dans cette exposition, Benedict en est venu à dynamiser un original rapiéçage visuel entre histoire et présent, dérives et rives du Toronto’ autochtone comme œuvre audio et vidéo. De cette création émane ce que j’appellerais une « extractivité » vivace métamorphosant en œuvre pour écran ces multiples sources mnémoniques. Ce sont là une posture et une nervosité singulière aptes à célébrer, questionner et transgresser l’art convenu. On ne peut qu’être saisi par cette mouvance paradoxalement faite d’épuration et d’itérations.
Aiminanu, Nionwentsïo, Complicité
Enfin une histoire du commissaire. Tout a commencé ici-même dans Toronto’, il y a un an, par ma complicité avec l’exposition Aiminanu[iv]. Ayant apprécié mon point de vue de sociologue et critique d’art, Barbara Gilbert me fit la proposition de songer à une exposition qui lierait les univers francophone et autochtone. L’idée d’un trialogue s’imposa spontanément. Le Collectif des Conservateurs Autochtones (ACC/CCA) appuya le projet. Ayant souvent œuvré avec Robertson depuis l’événement Arboretum et Les grands arbres porteurs de civilisation en 2000 et avec Benedict en 2008 et 2009 lors de l’événement Gépèg. Souffles de Résistance à Gatineau, Toronto’. Trialogue prit formes de vie. Qui plus est, cette alliance allait s’enrichir sur place de deux micro-résidences avec des membres du Labo. Toronto’ c’est depuis longtemps, grâce à mes ancêtres et à l’art, chez nous.
Take note of the apostrophe added at the end of Toronto’. In linguistics, this is a symbol to express a glottal stop in the Huron-Wendat language, and it has a very significant meaning. It suggests the ability to dream. This is the original inspiration for Toronto’. Trialogue, an original Indigenous art project produced by Le Labo, centre for francophone media arts of Toronto. My reflections as a guest curator are those of a Huron-Wendat collaborating to pieces by Ilnu artist Sonia Robertson and Abenaki and Franco-Québécois artist Simon M. Benedict presented in the Y Gallery of YYZ Artists’ Outlet at 401 Richmond.
The other key word in the title is Trialogue. Not only does it account for the communicative structure of the in situ creation residency in three phases over three months, from three points of view it tries to imagine, and to understand differently, in an “untamed” manner, the insubordinate and indomitable nature of today’s megalopolis. 
Indeed, through our expeditions, our discussions and on-site reflections, this Indigenous Toronto’ is gradually taking shape in three outlines.
First, it is where “the trees grow in the water.” From the Great Lakes and their thundering waterfalls to the sacred islands, here are fluid shores that are reflected in this forest of metal and glass, in this wall of skyscrapers.
Secondly, there is this network of paths that have become streets, trains, buses and subways that connect to the three important rivers that flow through it, the Humber, Don and Rouge, morphological and historical markers of this site.
Thirdly, the beavers still present on the shores, the parks and the woods keep this cartography of the fur trade alive. They are at the heart of the relations between the Longhouse Peoples of the Huron-Wendat Confederacy and the Haudenosaunees, the Mississaugas in their nomadic tent camps, and the French coureurs des bois of Fort Rouillé. They are still present today in the Hudson’s Bay Company coat of arms, which can still be found in the old part of the downtown area.
Waters, Trees and Fishing Poles
The waters going around and through Toronto’ map the city. Does not the poetic expression “where trees grow in the water” remind us of an ancient Iroquois glacial lake, which is now gone, but which is suggested through certain outlines of the Humber, Don and Rouge rivers? It is also “where the poles are planted” in the shape of a weir to trap fish. The power of this place certainly comes from the Great Lakes – Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie – whose streams flow into each other until the roar of Onguiaahra‘ Falls, and the falls thunder towards Lake Ontario’ in which bathe the islands of Toronto’. Last May, we toured the site together, the three of us. We could feel this fluid energy pulsing in the waves, as if they were trying tirelessly to reshape the islands’ shores. There were dams and … big broken trees! Named Menissing, the ancient Mississaugas had made it a sacred place of healing and funeral ceremonies. Inspired by the site, Robertson decided to stay there in July. When we returned by ferry, a strong impression took hold of us. Here is this urban forest made of gigantic trees of metal and glass, these skyscrapers that reflect the waters of the Great Lake. The image suggests that they infiltrated the underground to connect to the three streams of the city: the Humber River, which was the common route from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe for the Iroquois, the Huron, the French and the English; the Don River, the Mississauga warriors’ fishing and camping sites; and the Rouge River, now part of an ecologically protected area. Their stories of floods run through a long history of journeying, gatherings and departures, and then of settlements, always with people saying this is “where the trees grow in the water” – in fact Toronto’ has, as the records show, a long history of floods… which still continues to this day, as seen on August 7th of this summer!
Longhouses, Forts and Skywalkers
The human geography of these Toronto’ waters emerges. If one accepts the prospect that waterways and paths connect to the network of subway trains, surface trains and buses and rivers, somewhere in the picture Nature and urbanity merge. First there were the ancient Huron longhouse villages, whose sites and ossuaries bear witness to their presence as far as Lake Simcoe. There was Teiaiagon, the Haudenosaunee village, the French Fort Rouillé where fur traders were, and later the general stores of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the old part of downtown. Then the time of settling territories came, after a long period of fur trading with outsiders. We went from Kanata’ to Canada. Today, many wampum belts and treaties attest to all these layers of settlement. However, above these grounds, the large cranes in the sky remind us that some 800 Mohawks, among 3000 ironworkers, are still those “skywalkers”, these “superheroes” who, after the Quebec Bridge and New York City, build the future, notably these new large buildings that rival the famous CN Tower, emblem of the city.
Furs, Coureurs des Bois, and Explorers
What is commonly referred to as the “fur trade” is in fact a historical and commercial trialogue between Indigenous people, the French and the English, and subsequently their Canadian descendants. It was made up of alliances and mapped routes that the Huron-Wendat would first use to reach posts, counters and towns, then, conversely, used by the coureurs des bois criss-crossing the territories. The park dedicated to Étienne Brûlé on the banks of the Humber River, the first French explorer to pass through it in 1605 under Champlain’s orders, commemorates the fur trade along the river. The Hudson’s Bay Company coat of arms, in which the beaver and the moose appear, points towards the Northern trade route in the furrow of Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Médard Chouart des Groseillers associating with the English in 1670.
Toronto’ is therefore peppered with Indigenous urban signs. But above all, an Indigenous ‘Toronto’‘ of art is thriving!
An Indigenous Toronto’ of Art
It is undoubtedly Toronto’s art venues that stand out. They have never been so open to current Indigenous artists and artwork. The contemporary artistic context has never been more vibrant.
The Art Gallery of Ontario opens the floodgates with the exhibition Facing the Monumental by Anishinaabe artist Rebecca Belmore and the Inuit exhibition Tunirrusiangit by Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak. The opening follows an exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre by Six Nations Mohawk artist Shelley Niro, Nadia Myre’s video Acts that Fade Away, and Scott Benesiinaabandan’s in situ work newlandia: debaabaminaagwad. I still think of Coming Home to Indigenous Place Names in Canada by Margaret Pearce, this fascinating geographic map naming, after consultation with local First Nations archives and resources, all places in Kanata’ in their local Indigenous languages. She was featured in the exhibition Diagrams of Power at Onsite Gallery – the gallery of OCAD University, which has a Department of Indigenous Visual Culture. Add to this the involvement of imagineNATIVE in promoting Indigenous films. In addition, there was the major pan-Canadian project Resilience, curated by Lee-Ann Martin, which projected 50 pieces by as many of Canada’s most renowned Indigenous women artists onto large billboards. On the one located at 1 Richmond Street, on the corner of Yonge Street, Robertson projects her famous installation Dialogue entre elle et moi (Skol, Tïöhtià:ke /Montréal, 2001) in which fur coats seem to fly away.
Toronto’ is therefore not usurping its status as a place of exchange, alliances and artistic gatherings by sharing more and more equitably with the artists coming from First Peoples communities in Kanata’. It is to this effervescent context that the creative residency and exhibition are grafted, resulting in Toronto’. Trialogue.
Beavers, trade and water routes
Robertson is a “territory-woman”. She lives and dreams the land. She feels its spirit to create her pieces. In the heavy stillness of the heat wave, she resided at Artscape Gibraltar Point on one of the islands, took the ferry, cycled around the city and walked around the 401 Richmond building. Apart from our exchanges and her research, Robertson was inspired by clues and local signs.
The first is the pervasive presence of the beaver. A first source of inspiration came from the incredible appearance of a beaver dragging an aspen branch through a park in the city. Relayed through social media, the video was taken by a passerby and quickly became viral. Was this beaver off to build a dam and flood the trees, showing once more that Toronto’ is “where the trees grow in the water”? Above all, he awakened in Robertson the memory of her fur-trading family line, as well as the ancient Innu water routes that they took to trade with their allies. The other source of inspiration came from the neighbourhood itself and its architectural history in the fashion and textile manufacturing industry.
Walk slowly, watch carefully, and listen. The gallery allows a fabric river to slither through the space and to form only one piece with a big beaver pelt. Sounds and images from Lake Ontario emerge from it. In her installation, waterways meet the world of working-class women. A mythical beaver is suspended in the air. Made from finely crafted skins, it shows the transformation of hair into felt, which was the reason behind the great European demand for North American furs. The beaver crowns this indigenous Toronto’.
Mapping, Archives and Movements
Simon M. Benedict moves among several territories. Better yet, he makes them move in triads. An Abenaki who lived off-reserve in Trois-Rivières, he graduated in Fine Arts from Concordia University in Tiöhtià:ke (Montreal) and from the University of Guelph, and now lives in Toronto’. Coupled with his passion to move around, particularly with his dog Bashu, through the city, its parks and rivers, Benedict also frequently visits places of art and culture. Not only has he mastered video and photography, he also plays with the notion of video-performance. This artist makes visual nomadism a fundamental element of his art, centred on the restlessness of new media. He works with interplays between performed movement and a more pared down calmness.
His participation in the Toronto’. Trialogue project has brought to the surface previous incursions and research into the Indigenous genesis of Toronto’s territory, as well as questions about his own origins. During the creative residency phases, he examined more intensely photographic, cartographic and television archives, harnessing their potential for video activation.
Viewers, take the time to look at this animated “voir le voir”. In this exhibition, Benedict has succeeded in energizing an original visual patchwork of past and present history, and drifts and shores of an Indigenous Toronto’ in his audiovisual piece. From this creation emanates what I would call a perennial “extractivity” reshaping these multiple mnemonic sources into a work on screen. These are a singular position and restlessness able to celebrate, question and transgress conventional art forms. One can cannot help but be struck by this movement made from a process of distillation and iterations.
Aiminanu, Nionwentsïo, Collaboration
Lastly, the curator shares a story. It all started right here in Toronto’, a year ago, with my collaboration on the Aiminanu exhibition. Having appreciated my point of view as a sociologist and art critic, Barbara Gilbert suggested that I should consider an exhibition that would link the Francophone and Indigenous worlds. The idea of a trialogue arose spontaneously, and Aboriginal Curatorial Collective (ACC/CCA) supported the project. Having frequently worked together during several events, with Robertson at Arboretum and Les grands arbres porteurs de civilization in 2000, and with Benedict in 2008 and 2009 at the event Gépèg. Souffles de Résistance, in Gatineau, Toronto’. Trialogue was able to come to life. Moreover, this alliance would come to be enriched on site by two micro-residencies with members of the Labo. Thanks to my ancestors and to art, Toronto’ has long been our home.
Yaronhkha’ kwatatiahk. De’kha’ yändata’ Toronto atehchiendayehtats. Yändata’yeh teyarontayeh ndien’. Khondae’ teyarontayeh teyaronto’. Yaro’ de ontarowänenh, ha’teiontarayeh. Tho on’wahti’ Niagara ayänderondiahk. Kha’ Ontarïio’ iyaen’. Ontarayonh yändatowänenh iyaen’. Ahchienhk iyahndawayeh. Humber, Don chia’ Rouge atiatsih. Khondae’ yahndayowänenh. De’kha’ yahndayowänenh yarhayonh endien’. De yarha’ ohwihsta’ ïohtih chia’ de yarha’ oyahkwe’nda’. Chia’teohtih. De yaronta’ atironhiach. Yahndayowänenh tsou’tayi’ etiawehtih. Yahndayowänenh Tsou’tayi’ yändare’. Tho ïawenhchonnion’ ayoahronkha’. Kwatendotonnionhk. De öne de yändehwa’ ahonwendatenhndinon’. Onhwa’, tho ayorihwahchrondih iyaen’. Tho ayohsohkwahchrondih iyaen’. Hendia’tate’ de hatindarahchrïio’. Hendia’tate’ de aweti’ hatirihiwahchondiahk. Hendia’tate’ de aweti’ honhsohkwahchondiahk. Onyionhwentsayeh ekwatiehst. Onyionhwentisïio’ lyennen’, lyen’ chia’ chih eyenhk.
Toronto: e nishtuetshinakan
Puamutau. E innu-aiminanut anite tetshe Wendat mak Senaca ka itakaniht, nanikutini Toronto issishuemakan ume: ¨<Nish mishtikuat nitautshuat nipit> eku ne kuatak essishuemakak ¸<Tamipeku mishtik(u)> e innu-aiminanut, ume…Miam, kamishakamati shakaikana (SMB1), mak Nanimassiu-paushtikua (SMB2),ne Niagara nuash minishtikkut ka takuak anite Ontario shakaikanit, takuan anite utenass. Akutit anite assikuman-minashkuatmak anite mistshetuau kashamatikutshuaputi (SMB3), nisht anite pimukuna mishta shipua(Humber, Don mak Rouge ka ishinikateti). Eshk(u) tauat amishkuat miam tipatshimutau ka atauatshenanut upiuau-shuniau, ka atamakaniht anitshenat ka ussi-takushiniht ute tshitassinat, tshinanu ka uitshiak(u) mishta shapituana, ka tshinuati mitshuapa ka inanut. Kashikat ekuata anite e nukuak eshi-pikutaiak(u), natshi-uapatakanu anite Toronto. Apu nita ut eshk(u) ishpish nukutakan eshi matau-pikutaiak(u), ka ishi- unishinataitsheiak(u), ka ishi-mukutatsheiak(u¨), tshinanu autochtones ka ishi-uinikuiak(u).
(SMB1) Grands lacs: Kamishakamati Shakaiukana
(SMB2) Nanimassiu-apaushtik(u) Niagara ka ishinikatet
(SMB3) Mitshetuau kashamatikutshuap Gratte-ciel
Abaziak nebik ala kwenakwamal nebik, pazgwen liwizow8gan wji kchi odana msinebesalek magwakik. Megenigan akik wji n8jihob paamiwi azwato wakasenolsizal, let8 mtanaw8gan.
Rêvons. Dans la langue Wendat, Toronto’ veut dire « là où les arbres poussent dans l’eau ». En effet, des Grands Lacs et leur chute tonnerre Niagara jusqu’aux îles dans le lac Ontario’, il y a la grande bourgade. Derrière sa forêt de métal et de verre en gratte-ciels, elle est sillonnée par trois importantes rivières (Humber, Don et Rouge). Les castors y sont toujours présents. Ils rappellent l’histoire de la traite des fourrures au cœur des relations entre nos Peuples des maisons longues et les arrivants. Aujourd’hui, ce sont sans conteste les lieux de l’art de Toronto’ qui ressortent. Ils n’ont jamais été si ouverts aux artistes et aux œuvres actuelles des Autochtones.
In a dream. In the Wendat language, Toronto’ means «where the trees grow in the water». In fact, from the Great Lakes and their thunderous Niagara falls to the islands of Lake Ontario, there is a large village. Behind its forest of metal and glass skyscrapers, it is furrowed by three major rivers (Humber, Don, and Rouge). Beavers are still present and they recall the history of the fur trade at the heart of the relations between our peoples of the longhouses and the newcomers. Today, it is without a doubt the art spaces of Toronto’ that stand out. They have never been so open to contemporary Aboriginal artists and their work.
Project initiated by LE LABO, Toronto’s Francophone Media Arts Centre and co-presented by YYZ ARTISTS’ OUTLET with the support of the CANADA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS and the ABORIGINAL CURATORIAL COLLECTIVE in partnership with CHARLES STREET VIDEO and the imagineNATIVE FILM + MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL. English translation by Isanielle Enright.
Based in Toronto, Simon M. Benedict is an artist working with video, sound, performance, and photography. He repurposes existing audiovisual material and archival documents to explore our relationship to various fictional and historical narrative forms, and their impact on our perception of unmediated reality.
Benedict holds an MFA from the University of Guelph (2016) and a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal (2011). His work has been exhibited in Canada, Europe, and the United States, including recently at Evans Contemporary (Peterborough, 2018), VU (Quebec City, 2018), Dazibao (Montreal, 2018), and NRW-Forum Düsseldorf (2018). He has participated in residencies at Le Labo, the National Film Board, Artscape Gibraltar Point, the Banff Centre, and Centre Skol. He has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. http://www.simonmbenedict.com/
Sonia Robertson, an Ilnu from Mashteuiatsh, completed a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Art from the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi after her college studies in Photography. She has additional training in, for example, Butoh, raw materials, dance performance, and poetry and she recently completed a Masters in Art Therapy from the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT). Her work often exists only for the places for which they are created. They are a moment or a period of time sometimes marked by repetition of a gesture and inspired by the women artisans of her community. Impressions of lightness and movement become communions/tensions between; shadows and light, body and spirit, matter and the hereafter. Sometimes political, healing and/or participatory, Robertson reflects on the respect for all life forms in her work. Her questioning looks at polarities, changes of perception, to the limits of space (place), materials (as immaterial) and the place of the First Nations in this world. Robertson has presented her works in her community, in various regions of Quebec and Canada as well as in France, Haiti, Mexico and Japan.
Guy Sioui Durand is a Wendat (Huron) based in Wendake, Québec, Canada. He is a sociologist (Ph.D), art critic, independent curator, and performer (spoken words). His focus is on contemporary Aboriginal art and contemporary art.
Project initiated by LE LABO, Toronto’s Francophone Media Arts Centre and co-presented by YYZ ARTISTS’ OUTLET with the support of the CANADA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS and the ABORIGINAL CURATORIAL COLLECTIVE in partnership with Charles Street Video and the imagineNATIVE FILM + MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL.
 Toronto’. Trialogue started in May 2018. Then, a second phase took place in July 2018 including two micro-residencies matching Sonia Robertson with Denis Taman Bradette and Simon M. Benedict with Nelson Eduardo Vasquez. Phase three opens in September with the exhibition and conferences.
 As the historical foundation of trade that led to the constitution of Canada today, it should be noted that the emblematic animal that is the beaver with its silky fur appears on the coat of arms of the Huron-Wendat Nation, that of the Hudson’s Bay Company and on the five-cent coin of the Canadian currency.
 I quote here an expression from Ilnu poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine.
 The Aiminanu exhibition focused in photography on the excursion of Quebec artist Anne-Marie Proulx in Nitassinan, the great territory of the Innu, and was presented by YYZ Artists’ Outlet. Aiminanu is a word in Innu-aimun meaning “a conversation is in progress.” I had spoken with the artist and then had written the text of the leaflet. I came to the accompanying artist’s talk, which was co-presented at YYZ with Le Labo, and it was there that I first met with Le Labo’s staff.
[i] Toronto’. Trialogue a débuté en mai 2018. Puis, une seconde phase a pris place en juillet 2018, incluant deux micro-résidences jumelant Sonia Robertson à Denis Taman Bradette et Simon M. Benedict avec Nelson Eduardo Vasquez. La phase trois ouvre septembre avec l’exposition et les conférences.
[ii] Fondement historique du commerce ayant mené à la constitution du Canada d’aujourd’hui, il faut savoir que l’emblématique animal qu’est le castor à la fourrure soyeuse figure à la fois sur le blason de la nation Huronne-Wendat, celui de la Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson et sur le 5 cent de la monnaie canadienne.
[iii] Je reprends ici l’exclamation de la poétesse Ilnu Natasha Kanapé Fontaine.
[iv] The Aiminanu exhibition covered in photography the excursion of Quebec artist Anne-Marie Proulx in Nitassinan , the great territory of the Innu, exhibition presented by YYZ Artists’ Outlet. Aiminanu , a word in the Innu-aimun language meaning “a conversation is in progress”. I had dialogued with the artist to write the text of the leaflet. I came to the artist talk co-presented by Le Labo to YYZ and I met the Labo team.