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Toronto cultural festival accused of 'repeated pattern of harmful behavior' after indigenous-led arts project abruptly canceled

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An ambitious multimedia experience that explores the importance of water in an Indigenous context is a lesson in bureaucratic incompetence, misunderstandings and well-intentioned but troubled reconciliation efforts in Canada. .

The project in question first started in 2016 as a collaboration with British artist Amy Sherlocks. (who just received a six-figure settlement from Tate after she alleges harassment and discrimination), her water museum The Initiative and a collective of Indigenous artists and curators Sarah Rock, Leslie McCue, and Elwood Jimmy. It was planned to include a series of live and virtual events during Luminato 2022 (June 9th to June 19th). museum wateror simply um of waterHowever, just days before the project’s debut, it was abruptly canceled.

As stated in the recent documentation toronto star featurethe story of the cancellation um of water Nothing if not a national metaphor. In countries lacking access to clean and safe drinking water, The use of First Nations reserves is considered a violation of the United Nations-recognised right to water and sanitation, and the reserves currently have 34 long-term drinking advisories, some of which have been in place for over a quarter of a century. There are also things. improve the situation. The city of Toronto itself borders Lake Ontario (meaning “shining water” in Iroquois)”), indigenous peoples have been the “keepers of the water” for thousands of years.

One of many videos posted on Facebook at the beginning of the promotion year um of water, the issue of boiling water recommendations on reserves was directly addressed. After a soft launch in 2021 when the project’s planned debut was derailed by the pandemic, an interactive online platform was launched to raise awareness of both water and indigenous issues.

in the statementFounded in 2007 as a vehicle for civic recovery after the SARS epidemic, the organizers of the Luminart Festival, which sought to showcase Toronto’s diversity and creativity, took responsibility for the debacle. I made many mistakes along the way,” they wrote. “We did not provide the necessary resources, support or respect for community practices to complete and publish um of water at the level it deserves.As a result, we have decided not to present um of water We deeply apologize for this result at this year’s festival. ”

in the aftermath of um of watercancellation, new allegations of unpaid fees, and recent history of discrimination against indigenous artists by Luminart toronto star functions have been the statement Post to Twitter, um of water The community said they experienced “anti-Indigenous racism, lack of accountability and neglect” while working with Luminato. problem, and “repeated patterns of harmful behavior towards indigenous communities.”

Anishina Abe and French artist and producer Denise Boldac um of water Early on, I worked with Luminato for 5 years and led several programs there. toronto star Her experience at the festival was “consuming, intense and exhausting”. She added that the recent debacle is not the first time Luminato has failed to support indigenous artists.

In a statement, festival organizers wrote: we need to do better. They added that the festival will hire indigenous advisors and will research and improve its project management structure.

there may be light at the end of the tunnel um of water Similarly, toronto star The collective was approached by several indigenous festivals interested in hosting the project.