The Testify Project is a traveling performances and art show celebrating Indigenous laws: Nanaimo (November, 2016), Victoria (February, 2017), Kamloops (Spring, 2017), Ontario: Windsor (TBC), Toronto (TBC), Quebec: Montreal (TBC)
Art & Law
Artists and legal thinkers in conversation with each other to explore Indigenous laws and opportunities for the dynamic expression. Testify creates a space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians to dream a way forward which respects and reflects the diversity, strength and hope embodied within Indigenous traditions.
Law has been a powerful tool of the colonial project. Law was used to subjugate and attempt to wipe out Indigenous Peoples as distinct Peoples, and prohibit Indigenous ceremonies, governance, laws, and cultural expression.
Law continues to be used to remove children from their families, nations and cultures; to imprison people; and as a weapon of indifference in the failure to act to address the violence done to Indigenous Peoples (particularly women and children). Indigenous laws – for caring for each other, for caring for the land, for mediating relationships across cultures and territories – continue to be ignored or undermined.
Canada remains a country incomplete : The failure to make space for Indigenous laws remains the unfinished business of Confederation.
Only by the active involvement of Indigenous laws can we avoid (re)conciliation morphing, unchallenged, into (re)colonization.
WHY ARTISTS AND INDIGENOUS LEGAL THINKERS WORKING TOGETHER?
Testify supports contemporary expressions of Indigenous artists and thinkers – emphasizing that Indigenous cultures are not static, and neither are Indigenous art and laws. Indigenous laws are alive and dynamic and continue to find contemporary expression.
Often the strongest and most enduring expression of Indigenous Laws is through art: dance, storytelling, sculpture, song, paintings.
Testify creates a forum for the melding of Indigenous laws with art, recognizing the power of art to change hearts, to access parts of the spirit, which cannot be accessed by the dry words or reasons that are law’s purview.
Many Indigenous laws are expressed through different forms of art – through dance and song; through stories; through carvings and paintings; through ways we modify our bodies with piercings and tattoos; performance; oratory. Yet, each of these forms has been robbed of their legal content, refusing to see the Indigenous laws within these forms.