I recently did a performance in Montreal’s Cabot Square. I am calling this performance Memory Braiding as it is speaking to my experience of being an Indigenous woman trying to piece together space, identity, and community within an urban centre.
I chose Cabot Square because it is a space that I became familiar with from travelling through it on my way to work every day. I came to know a few of the people who frequented there and have been outraged with the actions that came with gentrification in the area, displacing many of the people who called this place there home.
I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be an Indigenous woman in an urban centre, working to create an identity for myself and how this has required questioning on my behalf to my family. Through this performance, I wanted to speak to my own path of finding place in Montreal, but I also wanted to speak to this cultural dislocation I have being trying to address.
Being both Dene and Coast Salish from Canada’s West Coast I have come to appreciate the importance of storytelling. Something I have to appreciate even more as my family has quite recently been informed that my grandmother has dementia and she is slowly forgetting more and more with every day that passes. What I am speaking to here are the gaps in knowledge that may never be filled.
I wanted the act of braiding to symbolize strands of different knowledges being brought together to create a story. The materials vary in length, some strands have holes, some don’t in order to show the inconsistencies that come along with memory loss. The two stumps reflect on conversations held between my grandmother and I, how we connect yet are still distant since her only real knowledge of who I am is from the fact that she knows my dad has a daughter and that one of her grandchildren has traveled around the world. Each time we talk however, she pulls together our connection when I say I now live in Montreal, she tells me about when she was living here during her time in the air force and the story pours from there. So what I have been working through with my research and this performance is how, although distant, my grandmother and I are connecting through space.