Living Lands

Beginning in April 2021, the CCA formed an internal Land Acknowledgment Working Group. The group is made up of staff members from a diversity of backgrounds, though all identify as settlers or arrivants. The group has been engaged in studying the physical site of the CCA, its broader connections to land dispossession in what are now known as Montréal and Québec, as well as the CCA’s institutional history, to better understand our position as a settler institution dedicated to researching architecture.

Ultimately, the intent of this group is to facilitate the CCA’s long journey toward fostering affirmative relationships with Indigenous and other peoples across Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal. The process of creating a living land acknowledgement is a first step that includes two linked initiatives:

The first is the development, in collaboration with members of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation, of a long-term and in-depth land acknowledgement statement. The goal is to make the statement an active part of the CCA’s institutional mandate and to have it facilitate access to our institution for Indigenous community members.

The second initiative is the creation of a biennial fellowship for Indigenous researchers working on land restitution in Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal that will feed and keep alive the land acknowledgement process. The inaugural research fellow is Tsi Tkarón:to (Toronto)-based multidisciplinary performance artist Ange Loft, of Kahnawà:ke Kanien’kehá:ka Territory. You can read and listen to the first installment of Loft’s project here. An installation by Loft is on view at the CCA until December 2023. The biennial fellowship will run for three iterations, with two more to follow in 2023 and 2025.

In parallel to this process, the CCA has undertaken a number of other ongoing commitments and projects that share the aims of providing support and resources to Indigenous communities and researchers to interrogate the built environment, and of reshaping our own institutional understanding of the work we do as a settler institution intent on pushing architectural thinking forward.

These projects and commitments include (in chronological order moving toward future-oriented commitments):

2020–2022: Developing ᐊᖏᕐᕋᒧᑦ / Ruovttu Guvlui / Towards Home, an exhibition and publication project that explores how Inuit, Sámi, and other communities across the Arctic are creating self-determined spaces, despite having been historically subjected to forced displacement and settlement;

Winter 2021: Creating an annual research assistant position through the Inuit Futures Fellowship Program that will run until 2024. Intern Architect and Master of Architecture graduate Nicole Luke was the inaugural participant;

Spring 2021: Becoming an institutional member Star Ally of the Indigenous Curatorial Collective;

September 2021–October 2022: Undertaking a project with Ange Loft as part of the inaugural biennial fellowship for Indigenous researchers working on land restitution in Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal;

2020–2022: Organizing the In the Postcolony series, a thematic cycle of the Master’s Students Program examining how architecture and urbanism continue to respond to, and be complicit in, the long echoes of colonial practices of spatial dispossession. The 2021 project, focused on the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula as it falls under Treaty 72, centres the creation of research materials in collaboration with Indigenous knowledge holders, designers, and educators for inclusion in the CCA Collection, and explores links between treaty-making in architecture more broadly;

Winter 2022: Designing and running Future-Casting: Indigenous-Led Design in the Arctic, a workshop and seminar embedded within the ᐊᖏᕐᕋᒧᑦ / Ruovttu Guvlui / Towards Home exhibition project. The material generated by participants will enter the CCA Collection;

Spring 2022: Launching an Indigenous-led Design Fellowship Program, with a view to creating opportunities for material conceived by Indigenous designers and other community members to engage in conversation with the Collection and/or enter the Collection proper;

Summer 2022: Reviewing and adapting current public programming practices, the first outcome of which will be the revision of the CCA’s introductory tour script to foreground the role of architecture in settler colonial processes, with specific focus on the history of the CCA building and gardens;

Summer 2022: In collaboration with the Association of Art Museum Directors, offering an internship opportunity for an Indigenous student to work through the CCA’s existing photography collection and seek to acquire new collection items, with an eye for intensifying the presence of Indigenous-led ideas and material in our curatorial and institutional discourse..

Fall 2022: Introducing a series of free workshops for young publics, co-developed with Indigenous communities and centred on Indigenous ideas and practices in the architectural environment;

The CCA Construction site, June 1985. Photograph by David Miller, CCA Collection, PH1986:0408. © David Miller


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