Illegal: Let Us Live
By Mariel Belanger and Gregory Younging
Illegal: Let Us Live is based around a prose written in three parts, containing quotations on Indigenous law and from throughout Canadian history by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples: Part 1: These Are Our Laws; Let Us Live/ Part 2: Illegal: Let Us Cry; and, Part 3:New Laws, Revelations: Will We Live Again?
Part 1 contains various quotes on Indigenous laws by academics, artists, philosophers, Indigenous legal scholars and Elders who have made valuable contributions to the Indigenous jurisprudence discourses. This section serves to establish Indigenous law as the foundation of Indigenous cultures, societies, and epistemologies. Part 2 contains quotations from the era of colonization (including residential schools) by Canadian politicians, bureaucrats, legislation and laws. This section represents the debasing, denial and attempted elimination of Indigenous peoples and laws. Part 3 is comprised of quotations from the recent era of reconciliation and the multitude of diverse voices that continue to emerge. This section serves to highlight the possibility of decolonization and the re-emergence of Indigenous laws.
The Illegal: Let us Live multi-media performance features a projected film and audio featuring the two artists as they read out the quotations. It is also features one of the artists doing a live performance to accompany the film and audio. Illegal: Let us Live is an historical embodiment challenging the colonial imposition, forced displacement, diaspora and the importance of telling our intergenerational truths and speaking out against genocidal practices and laws. In this performance the artist is the embodiment of Mother Earth, transitioning through the story, as she portrays the thematic tension within ‘belonging’ in contemporary Indigenous relationships to colonial patriarchy. This piece is a challenge; as it calls out for more diverse methods of resistance. This piece speaks to the colonial strategy of denial as it addresses its continuing divide and rule pathologies. In this performance names are named, telling a part of the whole truth that resists being told.
Mariel Belanger is of the Okanagan Nation, Okanagan Indian Band, Vernon. Mariel describes herself as a multi-disciplinary artist dedicated to contributing in the Indigenous community.
Mariel has completed a college diploma in Media and Communications Foundations. Mariel is a graduated of the Enowkin Centre’s National Aboriginal Professional Artists Training program where she received the First Year Media award, the Professionalism Award and Creative Writing Award for the NAPAT program. She directed two films which won at the Cowichan International Film Festival for “Best Documentary” (2008 Mothers Milk), “Most Promising Film Maker” and “Best Actor” (2007 Wayward Soul) As a member of the Ullus Collective, Mariel has created media instillations for Women in the Okanagan (2012) featuring Xixutem a story of revival, GeoTag Art featuring “A song for Tigerlily” and Picto Prophecy “Reminders for the People”.
The place where New Media and Ancient Knowledge meets has opened many new opportunities for Mariel to bring the stories of her people to life. Mariel, being a ‘hand’s on learner’ comes from the artistry her granny displayed when tanning hides and sewing buckskin gloves. Inspired by the digital messages from 1978 recordings Mariel’s passion lies in bringing those teachings of sustainability forward with new life for a new generation.
Greg Younging is a Member of Opsakwayak Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba.
He has a Masters of Arts Degree The Institute of Canadian Studies at Carleton University and a Masters of Publishing Degree from the Canadian Centre for Studies in Writing & Publishing at Simon Fraser University, and has a Ph.D. from The Department of Educational Studies at University Of British Columbia.