Métis artist brings #hopeandhealingcanada to Kingston

Métis site-specific artist Tracey-Mae Chambers continues to bring her #hopeandhealingcanada installation across the country. She made her 108th stop at St. Lawrence College’s Kingston campus on Thursday.

“At the beginning I was trying to figure out how to express how I was feeling about being sequestered at home during COVID… the first graves were identified at Kamloops and I wasn’t sure how to express that. I’m a sculptor, but wasn’t sure how to address that through sculpture without being very confrontational. So this medium lends itself to being non-confrontational…Yarn is the right choice and red is the right choice, it’s a powerful colour,” says Chambers.

Chambers says she was thinking about connections.

Commenting on the name of the installation, #hopeandhealingcanada, “I don’t have to put a capital ‘C’ on Canada, there’s no capitals in hashtags, I don’t have to make Canada something I don’t think that it is,” says Chambers.

She adds, “If you don’t have hope then you can’t heal, you just stay in that cycle of pain. But if you are hopeful, yes you still have the pain but you can move forward,” says Chambers.

Chambers says that while creating she is always thinking about separation from her own culture.

“I was adopted out of my family and adopted by a Scottish family. I would have lost all of my culture and wasn’t able to gain that back again until much later in my life,” says Chambers.

The installation will be on Portsmouth Avenue in front of St.Lawrence College until October 30th. Helena Neveu, Knowledge Keeper at St. Lawrence College says this is leading up to Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30th.

“It’s about talking about truth and reconciliation, about decolonization…this art exhibit will bring up this conversation not only for students but for community and family…We wanted to have Tracey here and her exhibit to talk about reconciliation, what it means is to repair damage between two parties. In native education we really want to get that across in our circles,” says Neveu.

Tracey-Mae Chambers will be completing the #hopeandhealingcanada installation at St. Lawrence’s Cornwall campus on Friday. 

Listen to the full CFRC interview with Tracey-Mae Chambers below:

Story by Karim Mosna, CFRC 101.9 FM, for the Local Journalism Initiative