In recognition of the site’s Indigenous heritage, York University unveiled Indigenous art exhibits on the construction hoarding for the York University Markham Campus on Sept. 28.
The site of the new campus is part of the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. In view of the tie to the site’s Indigenous heritage, when York University partnered with a public art initiatives organization to showcase community artwork for Markham Campus, it encouraged the artists to contemplate reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
Marissa Magneson is a Cree-Métis artist, photographer, educator, and workshop facilitator. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at York University this fall. Her research explores Indigenous methodologies using beadwork as visual storytelling.
She submitted an ethnographic photograph 'Frozen Chains of Childhood' that reflects upon the isolating and immobilizing pain Indigenous children endured in the residential school system. The photograph was captured in 2017 after a January ice storm in Barrie, Ont.
“It is through education that I have begun to melt these chains and unpack my own identity as a Cree-Métis woman who came through the public education system without ever learning about residential schools. It was not until the third year of my undergraduate degree, when I chose to enrol in an Indigenous Health and Healing course with Prof. Jon Johnson of York University, that this truth was shared with me. Until then, I did not understand why members of my family had kept our Indigenous identity a secret and felt compelled to pass as white, for the safety of themselves and their children. Learning the truth has forever changed my life. It has put me on a path of learning, unlearning, and relearning so that I can reclaim my culture and pass it on to future generations. Although it was not safe for my ancestors to be Indigenous, I hope that my future children can grow up in a world where it is not only safe but celebrated.”
The community artworks have been installed on the construction hoarding at Markham Campus site along Enterprise Boulevard until the construction hoarding is no longer required on site.
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