#callresponse Christi Belcourt
IV Castellanos & Esther Neff
Marcia Crosby
Maria Hupfield
Ursula Johnson
Cheryl L’Hirondelle
Isaac Murdoch
Tanya Tagaq
Tania Willard

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory

Co-organized by Tarah Hogue (curator), Maria Hupfield (artist/curator), Tania Willard (artist/curator)

January 8–27, 2018

Presented as part of Circuit 4: Stewardship, Take Care

Download the Circuit 4 micropublication, featuring project descriptions, a curatorial essay by the members of #callresponse, artist biographies, and full colour illustrations throughout.

Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch (Onaman Collective), Reconciliation with the Land and Waters, 2016. Acrylic on buffalo robe. Buffalo robe gifted to Onaman Collective by Grand Chief Derek Nepinak. Photo: Dennis Ha. Courtesy the artists and grunt gallery.
Exhibition Statement

To support the work of Indigenous women from across Turtle Island through art commissions that drive dialogue and mobilize action on the topic of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. To stand together across sovereign territories as accomplices [1] in awakened solidarity with all our relations, both human and non.

To ground art in accountability, value lived experience, and build upon systems of support. To enact strategies of resurgence, resilience, and refusal against ongoing multiple articulations of power and the structural colonial violence of nation states.

Guided by Anishnaabe Nation intelligence as told by Washkigaamagki (Curve Lake First Nation) Elder Gidigaa Migizi (Doug Williams), we act in the spirit of Nanaboozho, who is interpreted in the following text by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson as Kwezens, whose “very presence simultaneously shatters the disappearance of Indigenous women and girls from settler consciousness. … [She propels] us to rebel against the permanence of settler colonial reality and not just ‘dream alternative realities’ but to create them, on the ground in the physical world, in spite of being occupied.” [2]

#callresponse is an artistic and curatorial collaboration co-organized by Tarah Hogue along with project artists Maria Hupfield and Tania Willard. The project begins with a series of five local art commissions by Indigenous women and artists whose home territories are located in the Canadian nation state. Each artist invites respondents to consider her work, and their responses are also included in the exhibition. The pairings include Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch; Maria Hupfield and IV Castellanos and Esther Neff; Ursula Johnson and Cheryl L’Hirondelle; Tania Willard and Marcia Crosby; and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Tanya Tagaq. Following the initial commissions, a touring exhibition opened at grunt gallery in Vancouver in 2016, with selected representations of each project continuing to evolve with each geographic location to which it travels.

Blackwood Gallery invited the co-organizers to engage with the institution’s collection of Inuit Art as a site-specific response to the thematic of Stewardship, the fourth circuit of the Take Care project that occasioned this iteration of #callresponse. The co-organizers invited Beatrice Deer, an Inuk singer from Nunavik, to select works from the collection to be hung on the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. These works are accompanied by textual responses written in English and Inuktitut from Deer’s own perspective as an Inuk woman. A number of other local responses have also been commissioned, including a “visitation” of Ursula Johnson’s durational song-based performance Ke’tapekiaq Ma’qimikew: The Land Sings with Cherish Violet Blood and Rosary Spence, song workshops for youth led by Cheryl L’Hirondelle and Ursula Johnson in partnership with Peel Aboriginal Network Friendship Centre, a “writer-in-residence” who will take over the project’s social media platforms, and a panel discussion unpacking the concept of stewardship in relation to Indigenous and artistic considerations.



Link coming soon to download the full #callresponse curatorial essay.


[1] We take up the term “accomplices” as a politicized alternative to “ally,” following Jaskiran Dhillon’s “On Becoming an Accomplice.” Paper presented at Accomplice & Art Practice—Indigenous Feminist Activism & Performance, Yale University, New Haven CT, March 2016.
[2] Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, “Land as pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation” in Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3, no. 3 (2014): 8.

Public Programs

Artists-in-Residence: Cherish Violet Blood, Beatrice Deer, Ursula Johnson, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Rosary Spence
January 2018
Blackwood Gallery

Social Media Writer-in-Residence: Aylan Couchie
December 15, 2017 to January 27, 2018

#callresponse and the Blackwood Gallery created a Social Media Writer-in-Residence program to support diverse perspectives on the project. A Call for Proposals was circulated in November 2017 across social media platforms in search of Black, Indigenous, or POC-identified writers, artists, and content creators engaged with questions of intersectional feminism(s), Indigeneity, community-building, stewardship, and other forms of critical care, social justice, and solidarity work. Through this process, Aylan Couchie was selected to compose visual, textual, and audio responses to the #callresponse exhibition and public programs. Making creative use of social media platforms, the Social Media Writer-in-Residence will help build a network of support for the ongoing work of Indigenous women past, present, and into the future.

Feminist Lunchtime Talks
Indigenizing Institutions
Wednesday, January 10, 12–2pm
Blackwood Gallery
Presented in partnership with Women and Gender Studies

Following the publication of Canada’s 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and resistance to celebrations of Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, many Indigenous groups and allies have called for greater attention to the legacies of discrimination and oppression that have shaped the development of the nation. This panel responds to these calls by asking what it means to effectively Indigenize an institution, in a society deeply shaped by settler colonialism. Our esteemed panel of discussants will share their experiences of Indigenizing institutions in the GTA and across Canada, including the problems, paradoxes, and possibilities of these efforts.

Jill Carter, Assistant Professor, Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance and Centre for Indigenous Studies, University of Toronto
Tarah Hogue, Senior Curatorial Fellow, Indigenous Art, Vancouver Art Gallery
Denise Booth McLeod, Indigenous and Community Engagement Coordinator, Toronto Birth Centre
Kris Noakes, President, Peel Aboriginal Network
Moderator: Nicole Laliberte, Assistant Professor, Geography, University of Toronto Mississauga

Ke’tapekiaq Ma’qimikew: The Land Sings
Performance by Cherish Violet Blood, Ursula Johnson, Rosary Spence
Wednesday, January 10, 3–8pm
Innovation Complex Rotunda, UTM

Ke'tapekiaq Ma'qimikew: The Land Sings is an audio-based endurance performance that offers an apology to the land for the ways in which our human impact has shaped the landscape and displaced the voices of many Indigenous peoples. Johnson’s project posits song as a positive force that brings people together in the act of singing. The land is recognized as a feminine body and a matriarch by many Indigenous nations, and many cultures determine their movement on the land through song. In the process of collaboration, the song takes shape and gains a new title in the language of the participants and in response to the land on which it is performed.

Opening Reception and C Magazine Launch
Wednesday, January 10, 5–8pm
Blackwood Gallery

A FREE shuttle bus departs Mercer Union at 5:30pm and returns downtown at 8pm.

In conjunction with the opening reception, C Magazine launches c136 Site/ation,a special issue guest edited by Tania Willard and Peter Morin of BUSH gallery—an experimental, land-based, Indigenous-led artist rez-idency. The issue focuses on Indigenous and non-Western art practices outside of city centres and gallery systems, and questions where and how art exists on the land, in rural settings and communities. With words and images by Billy-Ray Belcourt, Karyn Recollet, Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Marianne Nicolson, Anique Jordan, Ashok Mathur, Toby Lawrence, Michael Turner and Jeremy Dutcher, among many others. It features an artist project by Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan, who collaborate under the name Native Art Department International.

Song workshops with Ursula Johnson and Cheryl L’Hirondelle
Thursday, January 11, 2018
Presented in partnership with Peel Aboriginal Network Friendship Centre
208 Brittania Road East, Unit 1

#callresponse develops locally responsive programming arising from community desire and partner venues’ existing or emergent relations with Indigenous communities and organizations. The Peel Aboriginal Network Friendship Centre provides a social setting to foster cultural awareness and education through a range of programs and services in support of the region’s Aboriginal peoples. This song workshop follows from Cheryl L’Hirondelle’s ongoing community-engaged and participatory projects (such as her songwriting collaboration with incarcerated women, men, and detained youth), and Ursula Johnson’s collaborative and durational song-based work in #callresponse.

Savage States: Settler Governance in an Age of Sorrow
Public Lecture by Audra Simpson, JHI Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 4–6pm
Jackman Humanities Institute
170 St. George Street, Room 100

In what world do we imagine the past to be settled in light of its refusal to perish and allow things to start over anew? What are the conditions that make for this imagining, this fantasy or rather, demand of a new start point? In this lecture, Audra Simpson considers the world of settler colonialism, which demands this newness, a world in which Native people and their claims to territory are whittled to the status of claimant or subject in time with the fantasy of their disappearance and containment away from a modern and critical present. This fantasy extends itself to a mode of governance that is beyond institutional and ideological but is in this study, deeply affective. Simpson examines how the Canadian practice of settler governance has adjusted itself in line with global trends, away from overt violence to what are seen as softer and kinder, caring modes of governing but governing, violently still and yet, with a language of care, upon still stolen land. She asks not only in what world we imagine time to stop, but takes up the ways in which those that survived the time stoppage stand in critical relationship to dispossession and settler governance and apprehend, analyze, and act upon this project of affective governance. Here an oral and textual history of the notion of "reconciliation" is constructed and analyzed with recourse to Indigenous criticism of this affective project of repair.

All Our Relations: The Art of Land and Indigenous Stewardship 
Panel Discussion
Friday, January 19, 2018, 4–6pm
Jackman Humanities Institute
170 St. George Street, Room 100

This roundtable discussion seeks to unpack the concept of “stewardship” from perspectives rooted in place and culture. What is stewardship in relation to Native Feminisms, Indigenous concepts of land, gender, and territory? How does stewardship intersect with sovereignty, artistic practice, and collections? 

Beatrice Deer, Program Officer, Avataq Cultural Institute, the Inuit cultural organization of Nunavik (Northern Quebec)
Lisa Myers, Artist and Assistant Lecturer in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Lindsay Nixon, Indigenous editor-at-large, Canadian Art 
Eve Tuck, Associate Professor of Critical Race and Indigenous Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto
Moderator: Michelle LaVallee, ‎Director at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Art Centre

Reader-in-Residence Session with Art Metropole
Public reading by Maggie Groat
Wednesday, January 24, 12–1pm
Blackwood Gallery

FREE Contemporary Art Bus Tour
Sunday, January 28, 12–5pm
The tour picks up at Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West) then departs for Blackwood Gallery, Bradley Museum, and the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant. To RSVP: email blackwood.gallery@utoronto.ca or call 905-828-3789 by Friday, January 26 at 5pm.

Installation Photos

For installation photos of #callresponse, visit Circuit 4: Stewardship.


Christi Belcourt is Michif originally from Manitou Sakahigan (Lac Ste. Anne, AB). With deep respect for the traditions and knowledge of her people, her work explores the beauty of the natural world and is grounded within her relationships with land, water, animals, and Anishinaabek Peoples of the North Shore of Lake Superior. She initiated Walking With Our Sisters, a project that honours the lives of missing and murdered native women. Together with Isaac Murdoch and Erin Konsmo, Belcourt founded the Onaman Collective.

Cherish Violet Blood is a professionally trained, seasoned performer with active followings in the national Native and Toronto theatre community. She is an actor, storyteller, comedian, activist, and Blackfoot woman from the Blood Reserve, AB, with extensive traditional hand drumming and contemporary singing skills. A graduate of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto,  Blood has performed all over North America and is a member of New York’s Spider Woman Theater company.

Isaac Murdoch Bombgiizhik is fish clan and Anishinaabe from Serpent River First Nation,
Ontario. Isaac is a well-respected storyteller, visual artist, and traditional knowledge holder,
widely recognized for his research and expertise in traditional pictographs, symbolism, harvesting, cultural camps, oral history and storytelling, birchbark canoe making, and knowledge of birchbark scrolls. He has committed his life to the preservation of Anishinaabe cultural practices and has spent years learning from Elders of the North Shore, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

Jill Carter (Anishinaabe/Ashkenazi) is a Toronto-based theatre practitioner and Assistant Professor with the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies; the Aboriginal Studies Program; and the Transitional Year Programme at the University of Toronto. Her research and praxis base themselves in the mechanics of story creation (devising and dramaturgy), the processes of delivery (performance on the stage and on the page), and the mechanics of affect.

IV Castellanos is a sculptor and performance artist based in Brooklyn, NY. They are the
founder of the IV Soldiers Gallery in 2014 and co-founder of Feminist Art Group. IV has created
work with No Wave Performance Task Force and Social Health Performance Club, and is in
ongoing performance collaboration with Amanda Hunt.

Aylan Couchie is an Anishinaabe artist and writer hailing from Nipissing First Nation. She received her BFA from NSCAD University and is currently an MFA Candidate in the Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design program at OCAD University where her research focuses on decolonizing Indigenous monuments and public art. Her work explores First Nations realities/histories from a Two-Spirit, feminist perspective, and has been shown nationally and internationally. She maintains a presence on arts advisories, juries, and boards, and she’s received awards from the International Sculpture Center, Native Women in the Arts, and Colleges Ontario.

Dr.  Marcia Crosby’s lived experiences with her Tsimshian and Haida (British Columbia)
maternal and paternal grandparents, parents, and communities inform her work as a
writer of Indigenous histories. Crosby has examined the diverse ways that First Nations groups have incorporated external politico-economic forces into their existing patterns of
cultural life. She is the author of the influential 1991 essay, “Construction of the Imaginary Indian.”

Beatrice Deer is a singer, seamstress, and advocate for good health. Originally from Quaqtaq, a tiny village in Nunavik on the northeast coast of Quebec, Deer is now based in Montreal with her two children. Her music features both lyrical and throat singing in Inuktitut and English. Deer has released four albums, and received the award for Best Inuit Cultural Album in 2005 at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.

Maggie Groat works in a variety of media including works on paper, sculpture, textiles, site-specific interventions and publications. Her current research examines shifting territories, alternative and decolonial ways-of-being, methodologies of collage, and the transformation of salvaged materials. She has taught at the University of Guelph, the University of Toronto, and at Emily Carr University of Art and Design as the 2014 Audain Artist Scholar in Residence. In 2015 she was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award.   

Tarah Hogue is a curator and writer of Métis and Dutch Canadian ancestry. She is the inaugural Senior Curatorial Fellow, Indigenous Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery and was the 2016 Audain Aboriginal Curatorial Fellow at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Hogue was curator in residence with grunt gallery between 2014–2017, and has curated exhibitions at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Or Gallery, and SFU Gallery.

Maria Hupfield is martin clan, Anishinaabe and a member of Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario, based in Brooklyn NY. Her solo traveling exhibition The One Who Keeps on Giving premiered at The Power Plant in 2017 and was featured in Art in America. She has received national recognition in the USA from the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation for her hand-sewn industrial felt sculptures and in 2016 exhibited at SITE Santa Fe Biennale. She co-owns Native Art Department International with artist Jason Lujan.

Ursula Johnson is the winner of the 2017 Sobey Art Award. She is an interdisciplinary artist and an enrolled member of the Eskasoni First Nation Mi’kmaq Community on Cape Breton Island, currently based in Dartmouth, NS. She is active in Mi’kmaw language revitalization and descendent from a long line of esteemed basketmakers. Her nationally touring solo show Mi'kwite'tmn (Do You Remember) considers the consumption of traditional knowledge within colonial institutions. Johnson was awarded The Hnatyshyn Foundation’s 2017 Reveal Indigenous Art Award.

Nicole Laliberte is Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). Her research is located at the intersection of geography, feminist theory, and critical development studies. She studies systems of violence, including settler colonialism, as well as feminist and anti-oppression pedagogies in the undergraduate classroom. Professor Laliberte serves on the Board of Director’s of UTM’s Women and Gender Studies Program, and on UTM’s Indigenous Initiative Task Force.

Michelle LaVallee is a curator, artist, and educator of Ojibway ancestry and a member of the Nawash Band in Cape Croker, Ontario. She worked as a curator at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, SK from 2007-2017, and has recently been appointed as the new director at the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Art Centre in Gatineau, Quebec. LaVallee won the award for Excellence in Arts Related Service at the Mayor’s Arts and Business Awards in Regina in 2013 and has been a chosen participant for a number of International Canadian Curator Delegations in Australia, New Zealand, and Italy.

Letters & Handshakes is a collaboration of Greig de Peuter (Department of Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University) and Christine Shaw (Blackwood Gallery and Department of Visual Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga).

Cheryl L’Hirondelle is an award-winning and community-engaged interdisciplinary artist, singer/songwriter and curator. She is Cree/Métis and German/Polish from Papaschase First Nation/amiskwaciy wâskahikan (Edmonton, AB) and works at the intersections of Cree nêhiyawin worldview and contemporary time-space.

Denise Booth McLeod is Anishnaabe (Ojibway) and her ancestral lands are Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation on the North Shore of Lake Huron. She has worked closely with urban Indigenous community in Toronto as the Cultural Coordinator at the Native Canadian Cultural Centre, Urban Indigenous Family Violence Prevention, and Culture Coordinator at the Native Women’s Resource Centre. She is currently the Indigenous and Community Engagement Coordinator at Toronto Birth Centre.

Lisa Myers is an independent curator and artist with a keen interest in interdisciplinary collaboration. Myers has a Master of Fine Arts in Criticism and Curatorial practice from OCAD University. She is currently an Assistant Lecturer in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Myers is a member of Beausoleil First Nation and she is based in Port Severn and Toronto, Ontario.

Esther Neff is the Founder and Co-Director of Panoply Performance Laboratory, a collective
making operas-of-operations and a laboratory site for performance projects. She is a
collaborative and solo performance artist, independent theorist and member of Feminist Art
Group, Social Health Performance Club and Organizers Against Imperialist Culture. In February 2017 her work and research included a dedicated month long series of operations
entitled Embarrassed of the Whole.

Lindsay Nixon is a Cree-Métis-Saulteaux curator, editor, and writer. They are the Indigenous Editor-at-Large for Canadian Art, and the editor of mâmawi­-âcimowak, an independent art, art criticism, and literature journal. Nixon currently resides in Tio’tia:ke/Mooniyaang, unceded Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territories (Montreal), where they co-founded the Black Indigenous Harm Reduction Alliance and Critical Sass Press. Their forthcoming creative non-fiction collection, tentatively titled nîtisânak, is to be released in Spring 2018 through Metonymy Press.

Kris Noakes is an Anishinaabe citizen of Nipissing First Nation and the President of Peel Aboriginal Network. She is active in the community and serves in many advisory roles including in a First Nations advisory role on the City of Mississauga’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and as a part of the Toronto Area First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Educational Leads for the Indigenous Education Office of the Ministry of Education.

Rosary Spence is a recognized Indigenous singer, steeped in time-honoured rhythms and styles. Spence's debut album Maskawasiwin (a Cree word for “strength”) was released in 2015. She is a featured artist on a variety of albums and collaborations, most recently a 12-track compilation titled Women's Voices For Attawapiskat, dedicated to the people of Attawapiskat First Nation. Spence is originally from the coastal Cree community of Fort Albany First Nation, off the coast of James Bay.

Tanya Tagaq’s album Animism earned the 2014 Polaris Music Prize for the best full-length
Canadian album. She is a multi-Juno-award-winning vocalist informed by Inuit throat singing and combining avant-garde improvisation, metal, and electronica influences. She delivers fearsome, elemental performances that are visceral and physical. Her album Retribution was released in October 2016.

Eve Tuck is Associate Professor of Critical Race and Indigenous Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. She is a William T. Grant Scholar (2015-2020) and was a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in 2011. Tuck's writing and research is on urban education and Indigenous studies, and is the author of two recent books, Urban Youth and School Pushout (Routledge, 2012) and Place in Research (co-written with Marcia McKenzie, Routledge, 2015).

Tania Willard is from the Secwe̓pemc Nation, Interior British Columbia. She works to connect shifting ideas around contemporary and traditional with bodies of knowledge and skills from Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures. Her co-curatorial projects include the nationally touring Beat Nation: Art Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (Vancouver Art Gallery, with Kathleen Ritter), Unceded Territories: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun (Museum of Anthropology, with Karen Duffek), Nanitch: Historical BC photography, and Landmarks2017/Repères2017. Her relational art practice centres around BUSH gallery, a site of land-based experimental and conceptual Indigenous art futurity.

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory is a performer of uaajeerneq, a contemporary Greenlandic
mask dance, and a recognized storyteller, poet, and actor. She is Inuk of Greenlandic origin, living in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Laakkuluk is a founding member and Programme Manager at Qaggiavuut, a non-profit society advocating for and supporting Nunavut performing artists.


#callresponse is co-organized by Tarah Hogue, Maria Hupfield and Tania Willard. We acknowledge the politics of violence in North America as it relates to Indigenous lands and bodies including on the many Indigenous territories where the projects take place, whether they are ancestral, traditional, unceded, unsurrendered, urban, rural and/or reserve.

#callresponse, Blackwood Gallery, and Letters & Handshakes extend deepest thanks to all the participating artists, respondents, and the networks that support the important work they undertake at all levels. Thank you also to those who have led and participated in the programming around the exhibition.

The Blackwood Gallery gratefully acknowledges the operating support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the University of Toronto Mississauga.



This exhibition is organized and circulated by grunt gallery, and presented by Blackwood Gallery.

#callresponse is produced in partnership with grunt gallery and generously supported by the {Re}conciliation initiative of the Canada Council for the Arts, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. Additional funding support from the British Columbia Arts Council.

The Blackwood Gallery is grateful for the generous support of #callresponse from the Jackman Humanities Institute Artist-in-Residence Program, the BC Arts Council, and grunt gallery, with additional support from the Department of Visual Studies and Women and Gender Studies (UTM).

Funding for staff support was made possible through the Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations Graduate Internship program, Department of Canadian Heritage. The Canadian Museums Association administers the program on behalf of the Department of Canadian Heritage.