As Montreal prepares to celebrate its founding narratives, this project seeks to highlight the long-standing presence of Indigenous Peoples in the city, and specifically in Cabot Square, as a local gathering site. While we recognize Montreal as existing on unceded Kanien'kehá:ka territory, we seek to highlight how diverse Indigenous peoples have long been a part of Montreal’s urban spaces, and that Cabot Square is one of these rich sites.
To do so, we invite people to present Indigenous stories of the city and the Square using Photovoice. Photovoice is a participatory media-making practice, which will serve as a means to reassert Indigenous presence and history within the city. This is our main objective.
In collaboration with the Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy NETWORK, the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, and the Ville-Marie arrondissement of Montreal, our group realized photovoice drop-in sessions in the Square, every Friday afternoon (1-4) from July 7th to August 11th, during the Aboriginal Programming activities in Cabot Square.
Our group was formed through the collaboration of Graduate students associated with the Concordia Ethnography Lab and McGill’s Participatory Cultures Lab, and in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous Students and community members, who were invited to a 2-day Photovoice workshop, at the end of May. The objective was to offer Indigenous students and community members the opportunity to develop new skills and new forms of documenting and representing Indigenous stories and knowledges (their own and those of others) and to acquire training in a community-based collaborative approach, which they can then use in their own future projects.
The process and final pictures taken over the 2-day workshop were used in our kiosk that we set every Friday in the Square, so that people could learn about the experience and the method. We also created posters about some of the Indigenous history of Montreal and of Cabot Square that we researched. We are conscious that there are many other stories and experiences, and that we know very little about the Indigenous history of Montreal, and about the experiences of Indigenous Peoples in the city. We invited people to stop by, on Fridays, and tell us about their stories and experiences of the city, the neighbourhood and the square.
The overall goal of the photovoice project is to support social change by educating the general public on Indigenous histories and experiences of Montreal, and by influencing policy makers by sharing with them these stories, through the final exhibit in the square. The attendance at the final exhibit of Indigenous organizations, communities, and of a general public of Montrealers, as well as some municipal workers, was an indicator of the success of our project.
The Photovoice in Cabot Square project is the first project of our group, a first step in establishing collaboration with networks of Indigenous urban communities, and Indigenous organizations at Concordia, in the framework of a long-term commitment to understanding Montreal as an Indigenous place, historically and contemporarily. Our group plans on undertaking other projects: soundscapes, podcasts, food sustainability in relation to the Botanical Garden’s First Nations garden, and possible mapping of Indigenous Montreal, are other projects that we discuss as a group. This will depend on the community members’ visions, interests and needs, once we establish collaboration through the current project.
Ethnography lab & living gallery EV.Building, 10.625, Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology, Sir George Williams Campus, Concordia University, 1515 Rue Sainte-Catherine O, Montréal, QC