My Abolitionist Dream cannot be mapped by Laura Phillips
My Abolitionist Dream is Un-Mapping, Un-Learning & Un-Naming the impacts of my settler-colonial presence.
For my project I wanted to think deeply about how I bring my white settler body to this land. Every day I walk my dogs through land allocated by the City of Kingston urban planners as ‘a park’, or recreational public space for defined & allowed activities: a play area; a paved path for walking, running, cycling, skateboarding; a garbage dump that has been capped and now forms steep inclines for tobogganing in winter; curated and uncurated grassy spaces; curated trees; a public garden space; a drainage ditch that likely redirects an original water way flowing to the Lake; borderland fencing; uncurated bushes and plants.
I noticed one grouping of plants and trees where Rocks had chosen to dwell. I meditated on these Beings every day. I said hello, noticed their parts, took photos, took videos and tried to think beyond ‘taking’/ documenting this space.
My thoughts for this project were shaped by many minds, but especially reading Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Kimmerer (2013); Extraction Empire: Undermining the Systems, States, and Scales of Canada’s Global Resource Empire, edited by Pierre Belanger (2018); Deborah Doxtator, “Inclusive and Exclusive Perceptions of Difference Native and Euro-Based Concepts of Time History and Change,” in Decentring the Renaissance: Canada and Europe in Multidisciplinary Perspective, 1500-1700 (2001): 33-47; David Garneau, “Imaginary Spaces of Conciliation and Reconciliation: Art, Curation, and Healing,” in Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action In and Beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2016): 21–41; and Vine Deloria Jr., Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact (1995).
I live in gratitude to the Kingston Indigenous Languages Nest [KILN], all of my friends in the Belle Island Caretakers Circle and so many others, for their thoughts and sharing this journey with me.
Taylor Tye is a local Ojibwekwe designer, beader, artist (JackPine Designs), and a student at Queen’s that I met in 2019. Taylor was commissioned to draw this collective of Beings as a colouring page for this project. This page can be downloaded here (to colour in yourself).
I painted Taylor's drawing using watercolours and paint pens (see below for mine).
I wrote this reflection of my feelings, though I don’t necessarily think written words are the best way to express my thoughts.
This is my Love Letter to this Land:
(click play for audio recording)