Storm Chasing

 

Highway 16, northern BCStorm chasing on Highway 16:
It’s like dancing, hide and seek, and flirting all at once.

First you chase the storm…

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…and then the storm chases you.
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I would have reached out and touched her, she was so beautiful…

This storm of ours, of mine.

She must have heard me… this spirit of creation,

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as suddenly there she was, reaching back.

Was that hello, or goodbye?

Before I could ask, she was gone.

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The night we ended the day with a beach fire.

As the sun spends less time in the sky

Our summer is nearing its end, and I find myself reflecting on our second year in Alert Bay. My family loves it here, especially these long warm vacation days spent sleeping in, playing in the woods, slipping and sliding, and building forts on the beach.  Despite this, I must say this is one mama who is looking forward to getting some good back to school routines started again.

When we went for a dip in the freezing ocean and I made you go first.

When we went for a dip in the freezing ocean and I made you go first.

The day my dad took the kids fishing.

The day my dad took the kids fishing.

That time the Rockefeller and his sailing entourage were in Alert Bay.

That time the Rockefeller and his sailing entourage were in Alert Bay.


That time we made a zombie movie with our friends which was directed by my seven year old son. (Here you can watch our trailer that I made with imovie which was incredibly easy! Anyone with imovie I encourage you to try making movies with the program. This was made using the SCARY trailer template.)

That time we went for a walk in the woods and I made you guys pose for me. Again and again.

That time we went for a walk in the woods and I made you guys pose for me. Again and again.

The morning we got to ride on top of a fire truck and throw candy to the kids and adults at the annual Seafest parade.

The morning we got to ride on top of a fire truck and throw candy to the kids and adults at the annual Seafest parade.

The afternoon when we saw a pod of killer whales.

The afternoon when we saw a pod of killer whales.

The day my husband got a selfie with Evan Adams. Whoops, that didn’t happen in Alert Bay but I am so excited about it that I had to share. Matching doctors.

The day my husband got a selfie with Evan Adams. Whoops, that didn’t happen in Alert Bay but I am so excited about it that I had to share. Matching doctors.

 

Another day when we saw another bloody cruise ship.

Another day when we saw another cruise ship.

And another.

And another.

The night we ended the day with a beach fire.

The night we ended the day with a beach fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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women gathering/women creating

I’m very lucky and fortunate to have made so many positive connections through my photography.

I was honoured to team up with Tania Larson Studios, Kamamak Cosmetics and Dickson Designs to create some magic of our products on some of most gorgeous Indigenous women from the Northwest Territories. I traveled to three communities to complete this collection and made sure most of the Northern cultures were represented.

Working on a collection like this one is something I hold so close to my heart. I believe it’s important to make sure we encourage each other as women whether we are entrepreneurs, mothers, aspiring models, designers, or acquaintances. I wanted to make sure that all the women I photograph feel empowered, comfortable and supported.

A huge heartfelt thank you to our models – Britney Nadli, Tanis Darlin, Dehga Scott, Ariel Hardisty Charlene Chapple and Charlene Menacho. I admire your confidence, bravery and class throughout our time shooting together.

 – shawna mcleod

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“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back” – unknown

blueberry stained lichen

Feature Artist: Tamika Knutson

My favourite thing about Tea & Bannock is sharing the work of artists I come across on my travels. On my recent trip to Dawson City, Yukon I met Tr’ondek Hwech’in artist Tamika Knutson, a summer student at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture. She showed me some of her jewellery work inspired by the moss and lichen of the north. I asked her to share a bit about her practices with Tea & Bannock.

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I’ve always had an interest in art but never thought it would be my career path. Now I can’t imagine doing it any other way. I’ve been studying fine arts for the past 4 years now. My first year of study was at Yukon School of Visual Arts in my hometown Dawson City, Yukon and the last three years I’ve been at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’ve had the chance to explore a variety of mediums in the past four years.

Initially, I struggled to find one that I wanted to focus on, until I enrolled in “Introduction to Jewellery” in the Fall of 2013. Something about transforming rough metal into precious art objects was exciting to me. I’ve been studying jewellery ever since that introduction class and am now going to graduate as a Jewellery major.

My most recent jewellery is inspired by the natural curiosities of moss and lichen. I feel this inspiration is significant to me because I grew up in Northern Canada where moss and lichen are abundant. I find moss and lichen interesting because it makes me imagine a miniature world unto itself; a whole ecosystem of fantastic colours and shapes. It can only be truly appreciated when you physically get close and acknowledge it. But, is so easily dismissed or overlooked.

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My jewellery creation have allowed me to relive and build on these inspirations that have been a part of my whole life. I feel privileged to make and share beautiful things for a living. I hope my work will encourage people to look a little closer and appreciate the small things.

-Tamika Knutson

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Follow Tamika on Instagram : QURKZ Jewellery

 

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Making Bannock

I’ve got a history with my dad. Last year he had his larynx removed due to cancer and this is our first visit since the surgery. He is quieter and can’t speak as much. Most people won’t remember my dad like this but since his laryngeal cancer diagnosis, he has changed. He can still be an ill-tempered old man, but at least he is now a quiet ill-tempered old man. I do my best to move on and involve my kids in their mosóm’s life. We see him at least once a year and now when he visits us in Alert Bay the boys get to tell their friends about their cyborg mosóm with his tracheoesophageal prothesis. Side note: its a great way to scare the hell out of kids and teach them to never smoke.

I asked my dad if we could make some bannock, but not the crispy fry bread style that we eat here on the West Coast. I wanted the kind that I grew up eating, the dry biscuit cooked in the oven and called by a multitude of names: bannock, la galet, baanak, pahkwesikan. I could go on about how the introduction of flour and sugar into our ancestors diets was a colonial act of cultural genocide… Or I could explore how bannock isn’t the healthiest option for our people now or ever… But not this time, right now I want to share how myself, my boys and my dad connected today while making bannock.

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I ask my dad what we need while he is digging into his pant pockets, pulling out some neatly folded five dollar bills. I don’t understand why he is bringing out his money so I just start collecting what I think we need, white flour, sugar, baking soda, lard, milk and my camera. I glance over and on the counter he is carefully unfolding a piece of paper that was wrapped up with his bills. It is his bannock and fry bread recipes. Whaaaat? He carries around his bannock recipes like he carries his money. Since he carries it with his money, does that mean I can share it with others? I don’t bother asking because I know the answer is NO WAY.

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I grab my camera and start documenting the bannock making session. My dad wasn’t pleased with me taking the photos so immediately he places his hand to cover the hole in his throat and in a raspy voice tells me NO and points at the flour and mixing bowl. I temporarily put my camera down. I mix the flour, baking powder, salt in a large bowl. First lesson: Melt the lard and margarine. If my dad wasn’t pointing with his lips as to what I was to do next, I personally would have used butter over the margarine. But it is his recipe, so I must keep doing as I am told but with few words just head shaking, nods and lip pointing.

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He points to the milk and I measure it out but as I am about to pour it into a bowl, he shakes his head then tells me that it must be at room temperature. Second lesson: Warm the milk with sugar on the stovetop. Aha moment. This must explain why my bannock is so hard and flat. While things are melting and warming up on the stovetop, I grab my camera and start taking pictures. He gives me a look, I put down the camera, and start pouring in the margarine and Tender Flake. Mix. Then I add the warm milk and sugar. I mix.

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Now this is the part I always mess up; I always over mix my bannock. I look to my father for guidance because I don’t want to f*ck up this bannock and I want my sons and husband to be proud of the woman in their life who knows how to make good bannock. (yeah, what is up with us and our pride around bannock making skills?) I tell him that I always over knead the dough and he points and nods as I mix. He tells me to place it on a floured surface then roll it and knead it, which I do. Lesson three: Be gentle but not too gentle with your bannock. Having the warm liquids in the mixture, makes a huge difference with the texture of the bannock, it feels stretchier and not so tough.

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I manage to convince him to take over because I want to see how he shapes his bannock. With my dusty hands I pick up my camera and take a few photos of my dad patting down and shaping it into something vaguely rectangle-like. Once he is done he motions his chin towards the cookie sheet and asks me for aluminum foil. He places the foil on the cookie sheet while I take more photos.

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Then he places the bannock onto the foiled cookie sheet, pokes it  with a fork and places it into the oven. Quietly I clean up the kitchen while he sips his coffee that is spiked with Sambuca. He says it is his sweetener. Minutes later, my eldest son comes in to ask about the smell and looks inside the oven to have a glimpse of what is baking inside the oven. The house smells good which is a sign that the bannock must be done soon.

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Dad comes into the kitchen and opens the oven, flips the bannock and checks the bottom to make sure that it is done. He nods. The bannock is ready.

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-Amanda Laliberte

No Wave Feminist

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It’s pride season. As a queer Indigenous woman I find this both exciting (the critical mass of fabulousness in one place) and challenging (pink washing) largely because my own sexual and gender identities cannot be separated from my experience as an Indigenous person. Pride may have its roots as a social justice movement, but that movement has been diluted and can so often ring for one note of equality: marriage. I believe the spectrum of sexuality and gender cannot be separated from the spectrum of privilege of class and race. We exist within each simultaneously, which makes it complicated and that is one of the things I would like to see celebrated during Pride, the complicated multi-faceted, intersectional identities that make us each so amazing.

In order to honour Indigenous LGBTQ & Two-Spirit Pride, I sought to photograph the most fabulous, fierce, two-spirit social justice activist Femme I could find (aka a kindred spirit). Enter Vanity Feral, Two-Spirit Gitxsan Feminist Burlesque performer and activist.  She’s from the Frog/Raven clan in Cedarvale and while we have not yet found any direct relation – I say give it time, I’m sure we’re at least cousins in law twice removed. Lucky me.

Vanity Feral has been performing burlesque for five years now. Having taken a well deserved break, she’s had some time to reflect on her relationship with burlesque and her position as an Indigenous performer within the burlesque community.

The result of this reflection will soon be seen in the creation of an all-native burlesque collective based out of Vancouver BC.

Indigenous women, performing and embracing their sexuality completely on their own terms? #MicDrop

I had to know more. So what started as a fun, spontaneous photo-shoot became an in-depth heart-to-heart about intersectionality, beaded pasties and what reclaiming Indigenous sexual identity can look like in hot, self-actualized and validating action.

JW: What prompted you to consider starting an all-native burlesque troupe? 

VF: There are so many reasons! For instance, when I approach many promoters about equity and inclusion, I’m told that their shows are not diverse because there is a lack of performers of colour, or that they simply don’t know any. They keep choosing who they know in their own circles.

If you think your community (any community) is too white, ask yourself WHY THAT IS. This erasure and lack of self-examination is so common and so problematic.

I started by compiling a list of fifteen performers of colour to share with producers, so there was no excuse, but of course even though I shared it. It was rarely considered.

Ironically this is was what has inspired the creation of the Indigenous Burlesque collective. It’s so needed. The list self-populated and was completely optional to join.

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How many Indigenous performers signed up?

Seven! And we’re just getting started. That was without much effort. Just here in Vancouver, there are 7 Indigenous performers in the Burlesque community. That just goes to show that there are PLENTY available.

Has the collective come up with any goals?

Yes! We want to amplify and reclaim Indigenous sexuality from the toxic effects of colonization. We realized we do that in some part already, by performing burlesque while Indigenous, but this is not always experienced explicitly by the performers or the audience. We’d like to take on the repossession of our sexuality explicitly, deliberately, unmistakably.

We want Indigenous women to know they have options and the right to express and explore their sexuality as much as any other person. Indigenous women should benefit from the privilege that white women enjoy. Joy and pride in our body, in our appearance, joy in sex. We aren’t easily afforded these things and it’s time to change that.

Who is in the collective?

We come from a wide variety and differing experiences as Indigenous people. But the challenges we experience are very much the same. That was our first conversation as a collective.  We didn’t expect it to be. We got together to talk about creating the collective and found ourselves unpacking the very painful truths about how we’ve each been treated as indigenous women by our partners, our professions, our communities and society. We talked about how we each find connection with our roots, the inter-generational residential school trauma, and what solidarity in relationships can look like. We unpacked the lateral violence we’ve experienced by men and women from within and outside our own communities. We didn’t plan for our first conversation to be so raw, but of course, it had to be.

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Is this the first time any of you have had colleagues to unpack your personal and professional experiences?

Yes! Who else can you talk to about the connections between shaming Indigenous sexuality and bodies and missing and murdered Indigenous women. Where else can you talk about the racism that is endemic in so many performances and/ or the opportunities to perform. Where else can you celebrate and talk about beaded pasties and bringing larger parts of your Indigenous identity into your performance? So many of us have to leave those parts that come naturally out of our performances.We can change that, together.

Does this mean beaded pasties? YES. There are plans. Big plans, and opportunities are coming our way fast! One of our performers has pitched travelling to facilitate empowerment workshops primarily for Indigenous women. We recognize we have a certain amount of privilege to be performers.

I know it’s complicated. There’s no easy path to community for us. I know some other Indigenous women whose gender identity is non-binary. I know we can be criticized for performing burlesque by the Indigenous community – there is alot of shame around Indigenous women’s bodies and sexuality that we need to undo. It is not without it’s challenges or critiques. But this makes sense for us.

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May I ask how you identify?

I guess you could say I’m trying on “two-spirit”. I find it to be a great escape from the colonial baggage of “bi-sexual.” At least this way, when I identify my sexuality as part of my Indigenous identity no one assumes I’m available for a threesome as they do when I said I was bi. It’s gives me some safety to relate my sexuality as something that is part of my Indigenous identity. I appreciate that. White people don’t understand enough about being two-spirit to bring their colonial preconceptions into it.  Truthfully, for me, it’s not about the bits. It’s about the person!

Does your collective have a name?

Not yet! Perhaps the readers at Tea & Bannock can make some suggestions!

And with that T&B readers, we invite you to make suggestions for an empowered, political, fierce, Indigenous burlesque troupe!

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Vanity Feral Gitxsan Two-Spirit Burlesque Performer/ Producer

 

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The Land Carries Stories

I don’t remember the first time that my family went to the Falls. I’m sure there’s another name for them – a Dene name – but that’s what I’ve called them in my head, so that’s what they remain for now. But I remember climbing forever, it seemed, and the dry pine needles on the forest floor slipping into my sandals and poking my feet. I remember the jagged edges of rock cutting against a blue skyline, and running along the trails with my brothers.

It made me smile to see my daughter doing the same things, on the same lands.

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It was my Mom’s idea to do a day trip to the falls and picnic there, just like old times. We packed the wooden grub box full of homemade sandwiches, sweet kale salad, drinks, a fruit platter and of course, a thermos of coffee. Driving an hour and half North of our home on the reserve, we finally parked. We had to climb this little rock … hill? … and then walk through the forest for about five to ten minutes, and the trail breaks into two. The right will take you to the Falls, the left will take you to the bottom of the Falls, where you can camp, fish, portage across (when the water is low) and play in the water (again, when the water is low.)

I went right.

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I stood there, in complete silence and no cell phone coverage. There was the familiar rush of water and rock, of the wind at the treetops, of snapping and croaking insects. The angry buzz of a mosquito by my ear. The black dust coating my feet. I remembered how we would try and creep down to the water, the boys ever more fearless then me.

I eyed up the rough terrain below my feet, just in case I could do that again…

So much nope happening.

I smiled, whispered a quick prayer to my ancestors watching over me, and went back to find my family.

On the way back, skipping, climbing, running, hiking along – I mayyyyy have went all Pocahontas all sudden….

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“Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?”

But legit, how could you not?

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We ended our time at the Falls, sitting with our bare feet in the cool waters. Dad told me stories of whose land this was traditionally – different families used different parts of the rivers – and where we would portage, if the water was low. Mom showed me where we would play, my brothers and I as kids, now covered in swirling waters.

I remembered the trip when we brought my best friend Lesia and her family out here down the road a little bit to the boat launch area, and how hard we had worked to net fish, gut and clean them, and travel back home. It had been a dark and dreary day, but we were so determined. We were insane.

I remembered how, when we were camping down the road at the base camp site, I was sitting in a lawn chair and my ex flicked one of those flying beetles at me, “as a joke.” I rolled off the chair to avoid the snapping beetle, screaming bloody murder, got up, and started towards him. “Run!” my brothers yelled. I never seen him move so fast.

I remember watching Mom set up the camp, and how each of us had our jobs. Get wood. Get water. Unpack kitchen. Set up tents. Put toilet paper by outhouse. Get coffee going. I remember ignoring said orders, curling up in the camp bed, and reading a book, getting lost in imaginary landscapes.

I remember.

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 – tenille campbell