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 was 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 September 2024. For the CCA’s 2023-2025 Indigenous Land Restitution Research Creation Fellowship, the CCA has selected multidisciplinary Haudenosaunee artist Iako’tsi:rareh Amanda Lickers.

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: Developing the 2022 project “Healing and Building at Barriere Lake” of the “In the Postcolony” series—a thematic cycle of the Master’s Students Program, that focuses on the multipurpose healing centre of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake First Nation—responds to the community’s current initiative to build such a centre by entering in a conversation around how architecture and the built environment can support expansive definitions of well-being and healing, particularly those grounded on the land.

Spring-Summer 2023: Collaborating with Lori Tarbell as Consultant in Land Acknowledgement processes. Lori Tarbell is the Executive Director of the Onen’tó:kon Healing Lodge in Kanehsatà:ke.

2023-2025: Organizing the “River, Shore, Land” series, a three year-thematic cycle of the Master’s Students Program that explores and supports how the Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens are contending with a warming climate. This project focuses on the site’s changing local conditions through its connections to the Mitis River, the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River, and their surrounding territorial ties to what is now known as Gaspésie. The first year (summer 2023) focuses on the Mitis River and its important role as a gathering place for Indigenous communities, as a site of labour, harvesting, and a networked commodity that brings in tourists on a seasonal basis.

Winter 2023–2025: For the CCA’s 2023-2025 Indigenous Land Restitution Research Creation Fellowship, the CCA has selected multidisciplinary Haudenosaunee artist Iako’tsi:rareh Amanda Lickers. In her project Everlasting, Lickers looks to uplift—through the visual storytelling medium of film—unextinguished and unbroken place-keeping practices carried out by urban and on-reserve community members, refusing constructed forms of settler-geographies. Using the frame of deep time (interconnected past-present-future) she will highlight core ripple effects of unceded land sovereignty through material cultures and the enduring land-body connection. Situating Indigenous peoples’ relationship to territory—beyond the past—as everlasting.

Spring 2024: Launch of the CCA’s revised land acknowledgment statement, produced within the Land Acknowledgment Working Group and in consultation with Indigenous consultants.

Summer 2024: Developing the second year of the “River, Shore, Land” series, a thematic cycle of the Master’s Students Program, will examine the shoreline and how the Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens are imagining new time-based methods to slow, counter, and work with water-based erosion.

August 2024: For the second time, the CCA will host the film festival Tillitarniit—Many Hands. Outdoor Inuit games, performances, and film screenings on the façade of the CCA will be presented in Park Baile as part of the fourth edition. This festival is curated by the visual artist and filmmaker Asinnajaq.

Summer 2025: Designing the third year of the “River, Shore, Land” series, a thematic cycle of the Master’s Students Program, which considers the territorial legacies of local extractive industries and how these can exceed current paradigms of ‘remediation’ in order to project new models of ecological restoration premised on the resurgence of biodiverse futures that also recognize the legal implications of Indigenous sovereignty, with particular attention to the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River near Rivière-du-Loup, and their advocacy for renewed land-based rights.

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

The CCA gratefully acknowledges the support of the Quebec’s Ministry of Culture and Communications, the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, the Conseil des arts de Montréal.

We would also like to express our gratitude towards to the following funders for their special support to amplify Indigenous voices at the CCA: National Bank, Canada Council for the Arts, a Private Donor, Scotiabank, Nordic Culture Point, Office for Contemporary Art Norway as well as SAW.


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