OHSWEKEN – The Sexual Assault: The Roadshow container has been filled with art addressing sexual assault stigmas created by artists within the Six Nations community; their hard work and effort was commemorated during a ceremony held at Ganohkwasra on Thursday, July 28.
Chairs were seated around the container and filled with artists, performers, those that simply enjoy art, and keynote speakers.
Of the keynote speakers was Overall Project Director Jane Doe, who said that the ceremony was quite emotional for her.
“The opportunity to be here today is overwhelming, I wept through most of the ceremony,” she said. “In truth, we don’t really have a language that truly can express our joy, but art does that for us, and art is also another narrative for us to talk about sexual assault and do it with joy, hope and love. And that is exactly what this whole project is imbued in and that is definitely made evident here tonight.”
Doe further commended those that committed to participating in the project.
“What Lillian and I have received is a dream. A dream come true,” said Doe. “It’s come true because of the artists that are involved, because of the community, because of the history of the community, and because if we don’t address colonialism and sexual assault; race and rape can never be separated, ever. When we speak to one we must speak to the other,” she said.
Working in unison with Doe, Overall Artistic Director Lillian Allen said that she too feels passionately about the project.
“I am very happy, and I know that [Jane] is too; this is really good,” said Allen as she looked over the container.
“This is beautiful,” said Allen. “I think we had great expectations, but this is beyond it. And not just the artwork itself, but from what we understood of what happened in the process, the people we’ve spoken to that have done the workshops, people have posted on Facebook about how healing that was and how important that was for the community, and to hear the speaker say ‘here it is,’ right in the middle of the community and that people can come to it,” she said.
In regards to what she feels when looking at the container, Allen explains that there is much more behind it than just art.
“The space itself is just a different space, it has its own kind of life to it,” she said. “There’s something about it that calls you, because we brought some art from Toronto that it opened up with, so people got a sense of what it is. And making some dialogue with that in this community has really created some fantastic work, and even more important is the fantastic connections that have been made, and the dialogue that has been enriched.”
The container was set to depart from Ohsweken to reach another community This fantastic display of workmanship and collaboration could not have been possible without the caring members of Ganohkwasra; including Community Artistic Director Julia Jamieson and Ganohkwasra Manager of Therapeutic Services Julia Bomberry that were with the Six Nations portion of the project from the beginning.
Sexual Assault 1: (from left); Ganohkwasra Manager of Therapeutic Services Julia Bomberry, Overall Project Director Jane Doe, Overall Artistic Director Lillian Allen, and Community Artistic Director Julia Jamieson pose in front of the Sexual Assault the Roadshow Bin, which has been filled with art made by Six Nations community members that addresses stigmas surrounding sexual assault. Photo by Chezney Martin
Sexual Assault 2: Musical Guest Michael Dobbs performed several country-style songs for the audience, even bringing tears to some after many of the keynote speakers spoke. Photo by Chezney Martin
Sexual Assault 3: Shortly after all of the ceremony, the audience was invited into the Ganohkwasra |Healing Centre to watch several performances, including a performance called “Breathe” by Contemporary Dancer Cierra Hager. Photo by Chezney Martin