Testify - A Project of the Indigenous Laws + Arts Collective

                                                                                                                                                                        

Testify Featuring: Justin Neal // Sarah Morales // Mariel Belanger // Greg Younging // Maxine Matilpi // Corinne Hunt // Nadya Kwandibens // Halie Bruce Louise Mandell // Ardith Walkem // Richard Heikkilä-Sawan // Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson // Robert Davidson // Rebecca Johnson

Artwork is on display at the Malaspina Theatre until December 9.


Testify is a curated pairing of artists/legal thinkers, working in conversation with each other to create an art work and written work about Indigenous laws and opportunities for the dynamic expression as part of Canadian society.  The dialogue invited by the “Testify” project puts the idea of reconciliation into practice by creating 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.

This project is in partial response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada which made a clear call for all Canadians to engage in a new way of doing things. The TRC lists Principles of Reconciliation, including the need to revitalize Indigenous laws and legal orders: 

“8. Supporting Aboriginal peoples’ cultural revitalization and integrating Indigenous knowledge systems, oral histories, laws, protocols, and connections to the land into the reconciliation process are essential.”

The TRC Calls to Action identify the need to change the way we think about law, and to challenge the absence of Indigenous laws in the landscape. Art is a powerful way to do that. 

The dialogue invited by Testify puts the notion of reconciliation into practice by creating 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. Artists/legal thinkers were paired and worked in conversation with each other to create a written work, and art work (in multiple genres:  photography, sculpture, painting, screenplay, docu-short, multi-media, dance). 

Testify’s goal is to make space within Canadian society, and within the legal profession, for a robust discussion of the possibility and potential for recognition of Indigenous laws, reaching out to the legal and broader community coast to coast. Testify is a national show, opening first in Vancouver on October 13, running until October 21. Subsequent shows will be scheduled in Nanaimo, Victoria, Kamloops, Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The shows will actively engage members of the public as well as the legal and Indigenous communities.  As we continue beyond Vancouver, the goal is to keep the conversation alive, and continually invite new artist/legal thinkers to join in the project at each location.