Thursday, June 19, 2014

Decolonizing Street Art!

Here at the Wall of Femmes, we take a keen interest in what types of images install themselves into our consciousness by virtue of being present in our public space. Seemingly innocuous visuals are in fact loaded with meaning and they contribute to shaping our attitudes, opinions, and beliefs about the world around us and about ourselves as we internalize the messages that these images carry. 

We are committed to the elimination of all manifestations of oppressive habits and attitudes, and support projects that work towards achieving this goal. In this spirit, we would like to shine a light on a project that’s underway in Montreal right now:




Decolonizing Street Art is a convergence of local and international street artists scheduled to take place in Montreal in August, 2014. The organizers, a collective of Montreal street artists including Cam, Zola, and Swarm, are presently running an Indiegogo campaign (ending on June 26) to raise funds to assist with putting on the convergence. Costs involve purchasing supplies like paint and scaffolding, and travel costs for artists from outside the region. The Wall of Femmes is proud to support this project!

The organizers of the convergence describe the project in these terms:

“This project fosters the idea of bringing together street artists of indigenous and settler origins and build an artistic community of shared anticolonial values. The convergence will promote a type of street art that advocates the decolonization of Turtle Island and will remind the montrealers of the city's colonial history. The artists, living across Canada and the USA, already focus part of their work on issues related to indigenous resistance such as environmental struggles against pipelines and mining and justice for missing and murdered native women.  
Decolonizing street art : Anti-colonial street artists convergence will organize its activities around two different axes. The first artistic axe will bring together the street artists to create art pieces in the streets of Montreal. The works will differ in medium, subject and relationship to the public sphere. The second community axe will foster the idea of creating spaces to discuss political issues related to colonialism between the participants and organisms devoted to the urban native community of Montreal. There should also be activities specifically designed to involve the indigenous youth. 
Decolonizing street art : Anti-colonial street artists convergence establish solidarity and eradicate prejudices and stereotypes about Aboriginal people who are still struggling today to take their place in the visual arts.  The project will enable a better understanding of the historical, social and cultural realities of Indigenous world by promoting the exchange of knowledge between nations. 
The fact that it is included in the public space will initiate a dialogue on decolonization with public. It is imperative to develop a collective discussion on colonialism to better identify opportunities for collective decolonization.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stencil Workshop with DESTA Black Youth Network

A couple weeks ago, we at Wall of Femmes were oh-so-happy to be invited to give a "Stencilling 101" workshop to folks at DESTA Black Youth Network.

DESTA: Dare Every Soul To Achieve, was founded in 2007 with a 6-month seed grant from the government to launch a pilot project on youth empowerment and employment. It has since grown into an essential community hub and resource centre in Little Burgundy, Montreal.  

At DESTA, youth and community members have access to educational, housing and counselling resources, a drop-in space, and on-going community projects.

One upcoming project is hitting the streets of Montreal with a spoken-word flash mob! Are you as intrigued as we were? Well be sure to check it out! The first “Speak Up” flash mob is scheduled to take place the morning of July 21, 2014.

To prep for the event, about 10 of us spent a Friday night, full of laughter and good vibes, creating promo cards to hand out to folks.

We started with a simple proof, spent a good deal of time carefully cutting the delicate letters, laid it out and sprayed away. Here's a little taste!





-   We think they turned out great!

A big thanks to everyone who participated, and most especially to C-Uni-T, for coordinating and setting up the workshop, getting us in touch, and providing the colourful supplies. Hearts!

To find out more about DESTA, and the upcoming Speak Up events, check out their website: http://www.destabyn.org/.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Solidarity with the Awan Family!

Hey y'all! Today at Wall of Femmes, we’re standing in solidarity with an incredibly courageous femme, Mme. Khurshid Awan.


Mme. Khurshid Awan is a Pakistani refugee who is currently living in sanctuary in a Montreal church. In August 2013, she made the brave decision to defy a removal order which would have seen her returned to Pakistan, where she faces targeted violence, lack of access to appropriate medical care, and indefinite separation from her daughter and grandson, who live in Montreal.

Despite evidence that Mme. Awan continues to face ethnically motivated violence if she returns to Pakistan, the Canadian government refuses to grant her status. She came to Montreal in 2011, to join Tahira, her daughter, and Ali, her grandson, who themselves arrived as refugee claimants in Canada in 2000. Tahira and Ali are now both permanent residents of Canada. Mme. Awan continues to endure stress, isolation and uncertainty to keep her family together.

In July 2013, during a meeting with the Canadian Border Services Agency, Mme. Awan suffered a heart attack, and was hospitalized as a result. Despite Canada’s own guidelines prohibiting travel for 6 weeks after a heart attack, the CBSA attempted to forcibly remove Mme. Awan from the hospital in order to send her back to Pakistan.

In August, she was offered sanctuary by an Anglican church in Montreal. Taking sanctuary means that Mme. Awan is bound by the walls of the church in which she resides.

Here at Wall of Femmes, we reject the imposition of arbitrary borders governing public space. We affirm Mme. Awan’s right to freedom of movement and mobility, and the right to live a life free from violence.

We support the growing movement of individuals, churches and organizations demanding that Mme. Awan is granted Permanent Resident Status by the Canadian government on humanitarian and compassionate grounds without delay.

To find out more about the grassroots mobilization, head to Parc Jarry at 2PM on June 15th, for A Picnic Against Borders and in Support of the Awan Family. The event is being hosted by the Awan Support Committee and the Food for All committee of Solidarity Across Borders. Food, speakers, soccer and fun are all on the table. Bring your kids!

Find out other ways to get involved here: http://soutienfamilleawan.org/?page_id=45, and check out this great tumblr: http://soutienfamilleawan.tumblr.com/, of people showing their support!