TRUTHSGIVING 2021: A Virtual Festival
Sunday, October 17, 2021, 3 to 8 pm
Organizers: Amoya Reé, Keosha Love, and Jayda Marley
Presenters: Sarah Lewis (Curve Lake First Nation), Joe Pitawanakwat (Wiikwemkoong First Nation), Laurie Hermiston, Lua Mondor, Kahsenniyo Williams (Mohawk Nation Wolf Clan), Nichole M. Leveck (Wendat), Nazarene Pope, Indiana Cada, Isaiah Cada
Truthsgiving 2021 is a one-day virtual festival taking place on October 17, 2021, from 3 to 8 pm. Coined by Indigenous activist Sikowis, aka Christine Nobiss, “Truthsgiving” is a recognition of Indigenous resistance, the unlearning of false beliefs around the history of Thanksgiving, and the dismantling of colonial-imperialist systems that continue to oppress and dispossess Indigenous communities. For this second iteration of Truthsgiving, the Art Gallery of York University will partner once again with artists-activists Amoya Reé, Keosha Love, and Jayda Marley in a call for action in support of Indigenous resurgence, land reclamation, and liberation.
From the protection and restitution of lands and waterways to the revitalization of languages, ancestral medicines, healing practices, and traditional foodways, Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island continue their commitment to cultural resurgence by honouring their responsibilities to their lands, communities, and cultures. Truthsgiving is dedicated to amplifying these actions, as we express gratitude through community care and food. Like last year, we are proud to offer Truthsgiving Awards, where BIPOC community members will receive grocery gift cards.
The festival includes a spoken word poetry performance by Peterborough’s Poet Laureate Sarah Lewis (Curve Lake First Nation); a workshop on Indigenous plant medicine facilitated by Joe Pitawanakwat (Wiikwemkoong First Nation); a workshop on food sovereignty facilitated by Laurie Hermiston; a panel discussion on Indigenous reclamation with activists Jayda Marley, Lua Mondor, and Kahsenniyo Williams (Mohawk Nation Wolf Clan), with moderator Keosha Love; and a dance and musical performances by Nichole M. Leveck (Wendat), Nazarene Pope, Indiana Cada, and Isaiah Cada. The festival closes with our very first Community Award ceremony where 3 leaders will be recognized and celebrated for the impactful work they are doing in their respective communities. We can’t wait to celebrate and educate!
Truthsgiving 2021 is presented in partnership with Our Women’s Voices.
3:00 pm: Opening Ceremony and Performance by Sarah Lewis
3:30 pm: Workshop #1 on Indigenous Plant Medicine by Joseph Pitawanakwat
4:30 pm: Workshop #2 on Food Sovereignty by Laurie Hermiston
5:45 pm: Panel Discussion on Indigenous Reclamation with Lua Mondor, Jayda Marley, and Kahsenniyo Williams, moderated by Keosha Love
7:10 pm: Community Awards Closing Ceremony & Dance and Musical Performance by Nichole M. Leveck
7:50 pm: Closing Remarks from Organizers.
This event will have an ASL interpreter & Peer Support Worker available throughout the event.
Joseph Pitawanakwat is Ojibway from Wiikwemkoong and is married with one daughter. He is the Founder and Director of Creators Garden, an Indigenous outdoor, and now online, education-based business focused on plant identification and beyond-sustainable harvesting. He is committed to teaching people about the linguistic, historical, cultural, edible, ecological, and medicinal significance of plants. He has successfully delivered lectures and workshops to over 150 First Nations communities, 20 universities and 18 colleges throughout Canada, the United States, and beyond.
Laurie Hermiston is an Anishinaabe Kwe from Batchewana First Nation in Northern Ontario, where her family resides in the community of Rankin Reserve. Laurie is a strong advocate, community practitioner, and partnership specialist with over 25 years of experience working in Indigenous communities on local, provincial, and national levels. Her work has spanned across health and well-being, family, infant and child development, education and training, homelessness, mental health and addictions, violence against women, and human trafficking and exploitation within the Indigenous communities. She is the founder of Kwewok Nakii, an Indigenous women’s collective based in Toronto, which focuses on community development, engagement, training, program support, and organizational development. Laurie is currently leading Dashmaawaan Bemaadzinjin (They Feed the People) which is an Indigenous Food Sovereignty and community wellness project in Toronto.
Kahsenniyo Williams is a spoken word artist from the Mohawk Nation Wolf Clan. Kahsenniyo began utilizing her poetry as a tool for social change and community engagement in 2008. Her work is centered around Indigenous issues. She aims to educate non-Indigenous people about the struggles, beauty, and realities facing Indigenous people. As well, her work attempts to create moments of understanding, connection, and healing for Indigenous People. Kahsenniyo transforms her love for her community and people into passionate performances. Kahsenniyo was selected as the Eastern Comma writer-in-residence (2018) and is currently working on publishing a collection of poems.
Lua Mondor is a two spirited Oji-Cree/Irish/Inuk artist born and raised in Toronto. Lua is a creative writer and poet, with a focus on reconnecting to her families’ Native languages of Inuktitut, Anishinabwemowin, and Gaelic. She is currently studying art history and Indigenous studies at the University of Toronto, in hopes to one day make archives of museums and galleries a safe space for all Indigenous groups.
Sarah Lewis (she/her) is an Ojibwe and Cree spoken word artist from Curve Lake First Nation, Ontario. She is a proud member of the 2019 Peterborough Poetry Slam Team, as well as a national semi-finalist at the 2019 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Most recently, she was selected as the first Poet Laureate of Peterborough, Ontario. As well as being a published poet, she has been featured on Global News and CBC radio. Shortly, she will also be publishing her poetry on CBC Arts’ ongoing series: Poetic License. Her poetry uncovers the ongoing effects of colonization but, more importantly, how Indigenous communities are reclaiming their strength, identities, and sovereignty.
Nichole Leveck, is a Wendat artist from Toronto, Ontario. Nichole has been a fancy shawl/Jingle dress dancer for over 13 years and has been teaching dance for over 11 years at various organizations throughout the greater Toronto area.
Keosha Love is an award-winning artist, activist, and educator who is passionate about making change through arts, promoting positive mental health in racialized communities, and empowering women. As a writer, Keosha is notable for promoting healing, creative wellness, and social change in her work by exploring the diverse narratives and identities of Black and racialized people.
Jayda Marley is a 20-year-old nationally acclaimed Afro-Indigenous poet, youth activist, and community support worker of Ojibwe & Jamaican descent born and raised in Toronto. As a former competing poet, Jayda holds the 1st place National championship title of “Voices of Today 2018.” She is the founder and creative director of her own open mic series which first premiered in the summer of 2019 as well as the co-founder of the non-profit movement Not Another Black Life. She hosts her own workshop series called “BETWEEN THE LINES” which is a space created by her to empower BIPOC Femme writers in the GTA who feel they need a space entirely crafted for them.
Amoya Reé (she/her) is a Jamaican-Canadian performance poet, the 2018 Canadian National Champion. Her writing is rooted in her lived experiences as an immigrant, mother, and community worker. Reé was recently crowned the 2021 Toronto Grand Slam Champion and is currently working on her debut collection of poetry as a 2021 project grant recipient from both the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.
The AGYU is committed to anti-racism. We work to eradicate institutional biases and develop accountable programs that support Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. This program developed out of an AGYU initiative that is focused on supporting artists who are active in the fight for social justice and the struggles for Black and Indigenous liberation. As community leaders, in recognition of their ongoing contributions to the field of art and activism, the AGYU invited Amoya Reé, Keosha Love, and Jayda Marley to envision a Community Resource Program in support of Black and Indigenous artists. As an art institution AGYU is committed to leveraging our resources to enhance and amplify the voices of artists whose practices are dedicated to advancing the fight against systemic white supremacy. This program reflects AGYU’s desire to support Black and Indigenous artists in a manner that is determined by leading members of our community.
image: Keosha Love