March 23rd: Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women–Vision Quest & Fast DTES Vancouver!

Posted: February 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

MON MARCH 23rd
6:30-9PM

Location: Faculty of Education Room 1162
Sponsored by: Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy and Prisoners’ Justice Film Festival

The festival takes place on the lands of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabek, Huron-Wendat, and Attawandaron Peoples. All events are free (donations welcome), wheelchair accessible, and scent-reduced—please do not use or wear scented products, including essential oils.

The Vision Quest Project, through the use of video and photography, explores liminal spaces where voices are marginalized and excluded according to race and gender and it acknowledges Aboriginal voices, women and their dance between borders. Art becomes a medium for fostering peace, enhancing public awareness, and providing community support. It generates social action that fosters political and cultural shifts in attitudes and behaviors. The expressive arts create spaces to re/vision the intersectionality of our multi-layered communities. Literary studies professor Van Alphen (2005) argues that art is thought and it influences thought on an embodied level (p.xix).

Vision Quest: Healing our Communities is a documentary film project—underway since August 2001 in the downtown eastside [DTES] of Vancouver at Oppenheimer Park. A 40 minute documentary was produced in 2001 filmed and directed by Chantelle Tucker and Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy and a film short (10 minutes/ editor, videography Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy, Shannon Kaplan) of a documentary from 2005. These films offer viewers a unique experience of Vancouver’s Fast & Vision Quest held annually since July of 1998 under the direction of Native activist Edna Brass (Cree / Ojibwa) and four other Residential School survivors. They fasted, sang and slept on the small triangle of cement and earth called Pigeon Park—a gathering place for drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, and the homeless. In 2000, I participated in the Vision Quest at Victory Square and returned in 2001 to film at Oppenheimer Park with videographer Chantelle Tucker. We documented the community focus on empowerment and action through using traditional healing practices to address poverty, racism, and genocide. The 2001 Fast was held only a few months before Robert Pickton was indicted for the murders of 15 women based on evidence from DNA samples unearthed at his Port Coquitlam pig farm. Pickton’s activities where well known in the DTES to activists like Edna Brass and families of the missing women who placed continual pressure on police, politicians, and media to investigate seriously their concerns about loved ones—gone missing. Making films about these events has to do with reclaiming and re-framing our lives. What is a Vision Quest? It is a fasting ritual traditionally done by Original People searching for wisdom/ power and can be carried out for the benefit of the broader community. A dream/vision may arrive and involve discovering a helping spirit—perhaps an ancestor or animal. In Indigenous cultures this quest involves a personal journey where an individual enters a period of fasting and isolation seeking a vision for clarity and guidance. Historically such experiences were turning points—life transitions or preparations for conflict. They served as a source of discovery through dream, song, healing knowledge, and direction.

In addition, we filmed interviews with indigenous women, lawyers and advocates for indigenous women at the opening of the Pickton trial–determining what was admissible evidence. The media was overwhelmingly present and helpful re: our camera crew including myself and Shannon Kaplun.

[See www.orcagirl.com/visionquest/index.html . DVD or VHS at cost and Photo Gallery contact gmulcahy@uwo.ca; 18 selected framed original art prints are available for exhibition purposes.]

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