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  • Aug 23, 2016
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Occupy Anishinabe Park 1974
Charlene Vickers

Performance Saturday October 1, 2016, evening
As part of Beyond the barrier of sound and soon, of light
In conjuction with Nuit Blanche Saskatoon

Occupy Anishinabe Park 1974 is a re-iteration of a performance by Charlene Vickers, originally staged in Vancouver. The performance quotes the 1974 occupation of Anicinabe Park, in Kenora, Ontario, by the Ojibway Warriors Society (OWS).

“In July 1974, the OWS organized a conference of the Ojibway Nation and ‘a day after the conference ended, news spread that one hundred fifty members of the Ojibway Warriors Society were armed and would not leave the park until it was liberated Indian territory.’ Effectively, Anicinabe Park had been sold to the City of Kenora in 1959 by the Federal Government without consent of the Ojibway Nation, who held claims to the territory. Almost two decades later, the park’s occupation had the objective to reclaim the land, but it also served as a pressure tactic to bring forward social justice claims. Notably, the occupation brought international attention to mercury poisoning of Northwestern Ontario waterbeds, which had devastating effects on populations of neighbouring Reserves.”[1]

The original performance compelled questions about sovereignty and Indigenous territory; Vickers, an Anishinabe artist originally from Ontario yet living in Vancouver, employed the political tactics of occupation as a means to assert her presence in the unceded land of Vancouver, which has been her home for over twenty years. This gesture linked the historical with the personal, and allowed the artist to collapse these typically-distinct forms of knowledge to present them in a broader geographic and political context.

This iteration of the performance, staged in Saskatoon, further complicates the relationship between birthplace, heritage, home, and the agency to assert ones presence through a politically charged use of the body. Through this performance, the historical weight of the original Anicinabe Park occupation is compounded with Vickers’s personal history as well as the dimensions of possibility for other iterations of asserting Indigenous presence across diverse colonial contexts.

[1] Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte, Acts of Spatial Decolonization: On Occupation, Settlement and Ownership. decoy magazine, July 5, 2015.


Charlene Vickers is an Anishnabe artist based in Vancouver, BC Canada. Charlene is an MFA grad at Simon Fraser University and is on the Board of Directors at grunt gallery. This past spring 2016, Vickers was selected as the inaugural artist in residence at Griffin Art Projects in North Vancouver creating a series of expansive abstract paintings, plus a new performance work with Chad MacQuarrie called Portals and Improvisations.

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