In the summer months of June to July 2021, the Cultural Exchange Committee, comprised of Jenn Chan, Lyndi Woo, Annie Wong, and Tony Wong, who identify as Chinese, and AJ Kluck, Maria One Spot, and Autumn Paloma Stonechild, came together on Zoom to engage in an exchange of stories, practices, and learnings from our cultural roots.
We collaborated on creating a curriculum and held workshops either led by committee members or with invited guests. The space we created was precious as much as it was resilient for sometimes difficult and often tender exchanges from our personal journeys of learning and unlearning how to be treaty people.
The program was dedicated to centring knowledge about Mohkinstsis, the ancestral territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region, which includes the Siksika (Blackfoot), Kainai (Blood). Piikani (Peigan), Stoney-Nakoda, and Tsuut'ina (Sarcee). Many of the committee members have a connection to that land in different ways. Some reside, were raised, or are guests to the region.
This site is a sharing of fragments, documents, and notes of the learnings we garnered through our exchange.
May 23rd: Establishing community guidelines and collective learning goals
June 6th: Treaty 7 and Missing Histories
Guest speakers seth cardinal dodginghorse discusses his artistic practice through the lens of Treaty 7, and curator Fung Ling Feimo shares her research about past Chinese and Indigenous relationships.
June 13th: Story-telling session
Committee members share cultural learnings.
July 4th: How to Give a Meaningful Land Acknowledgment
Led by committee Autumn Paloma Stonechild
July 10th: Poetry workshop
Led by committee member AJ Kluck
July 18th: Unlearning constructions of gender and sexuality
Guest speaker Madeline Terbasket (they/them), a two-spirit Syilx, Ho-Chunk, Anishinaabe performing artist and committee member AJ facilitate a workshop.
What is shared is in confidence. We trust each other not to share beyond the space
Speak from the "I" and Trust in our Testimony
Check-in with each other
Center the knowledge and protocols of the land we are on
Validate the slowness, care, and kindness this learning requires form everyone
Come up with tangible ways of mobilizing where we can support each other and not just have a conversation
Unlearn pan Indigeneity, model minority myth, and white supremacist values
Learn through story telling
Access and honour knowledge in a way that is reciprocal, intentional, and not extractive
How can we share futurism? Imagine and dream collectively?
Acknowledge the distinct and incomparable historical and ongoing harms experience by the Chinese and Indigenous communities without centering trauma
Maria One Spot is an artist whom identifies herself as the Sarcee, of Tsuut'ina Nation. She currently attends the Alberta University of the Arts, and is working on finishing her Undergraduate Degree in Fine Arts, with a major in Painting. Maria enjoys a wide range of art forms including photography, filmmaking, acting (film + theatre), animation, graphic design, illustration, printmaking, crafting, weaving, and is interested in her budding passions for modelling, yoga, fitness and good food. “A healthy and balanced life style is very important, my body moving in the right direction is the best way to be”. -Maria One Spot.
AJ Kluck (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist living in Mohkínstsis, Treaty 7. Their mother is Irish and their father is sqilxʷ. AJ’s practice is rooted in building slow and gentle relationships with the land and community, healing inter-generational trauma, processing their identity as a sk̓ʷsk̓ʷtmsqiltk (half-blood) person, and celebrating and reconnecting with sylix ways of being and knowing. Kluck is currently studying Sculpture at Alberta University of the Arts. AJ is a citizen of the sylix Nation.
Autumn Paloma Stonechild
born, adopted and raised in Mohkinstsis.
sculptor, writer, artist.
Working on decolonizing and unlearning and understanding the world around them through art and community work.
I believe that returning to yourself and better understanding yourself looks like knowing and understanding your environment and what once was and how to reconnect with yourself and communities where intersections are paused at listened to and put into daily practice together, your community will help you heal but as well be able to hold you accountable that comes from a place of care.
Lyndi Woo is a settler, Chinese Canadian, born and raised in Mohkinstsis. She is an educator and facilitator, creating spaces for transformative change that are grounded in experiential learning, unlearning, reflection, relationship, and dialogue. She focuses on the development of trauma informed trainings in equity, diversity, inclusion, violence prevention, and consent education.
She has worked in the Friendship Centre movement with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres supporting solidarity and reconciliation education, Indigenous youth leadership, and community development across Ontario.
As she explores her own ancestral history and family arrival to this land, she also explores the colonial context it took place in and her role as a visitor and settler on these lands today.
Tony Wong was born and raised in Hong Kong. He came to Canada on a student visa at the age of seventeen and pent two years in a boarding high school in the small town of Three Hills, Alberta. Wong obtained a bachelor's degree in geology from the university of Calgary and worked as a petroleum geologist in Calgary for 38 years until retirement in 2016. Tony has been volunteering in the Chinese community since 1981, serving as a director for The Chinese Public School, The United Calgary Chinese Association, The Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, The Calgary Senior Housing Association, and the Calgary Photographic Art Society. Tony enjoys Chinese history and culture, literature, art and photography. He enjoys nature and often goes hiking, backpacking, and scrambling. He has a collection of close to 100 cameras.
He is married with a son and a daughter.
More about the program:
The Cultural Exchange Committee program is part of Calgary Chinatown Artist-in-Residence commissioned by the City of Calgary’s Public Art program in partnership with the New Gallery. The program was inspired by the obscure history of Calgary’s first Indian Friendship Centre, which was located in Chinatown and supposedly part of a land trust with the community.
Through an open call for participants, Wong invited those who identified as Chinese and Indigenous to form an ad hoc Cultural Exchange committee dedicated to collectively learning about Chinese and Indigenous histories. The program aimed to create a space for building decolonial solidarity practices among the two communities by forming new relationships and actively learning/unlearning histories and sharing cultural practices.