Cole Alvis is a Michif, Two-Spirit artist based in Tkarón:to. Her heritage includes Métis, Chippewa, Irish, and English from the Turtle Mountains in Manitoba, as well as North Dakota. Alvis is a theatre artist who dabbles in opera and storytelling.
Interpretations of their own teachings and opinions shared here are the responsibility of each artist.
Written transcript is below.
“We sought out Indigenous artists interested and skilled in classical music and cast as many of them as we could and also culturally diverse artists. So that offer to bring in our ancestors, I think helped us understand that circular way of working as opposed to someone's ancestors being of more value than someone else's. And so when time was challenging or limited, still we were moving forward in a way where we're all working together for this.” [00:33:29]
Interview with Danielle Boissoneau
Danielle Boissoneau: Sure. okay, so so boozhoo. [in the language] Anishinaabe [in the language] So, my english name is Danielle, I'm from the old turtle clan. My people are from Garden River, Ontario, which is just outside of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, and I'm a displaced urban Indian, so I'm Anishinaabekwe living in the city of Hamilton. I'm a mother, a seed keeper, a gardener, a land and water defender, multidisciplinary artist, intergenerational survivor. I have a big dog...
Ceilidh Isadore: (laughs) big dog family!
Danielle Boissoneau: Yeah, oh, I try to fill my thing, my life with things that I love and not just like inanimate things, like material things, but like plants and medicines and seeds and doing, doing that helps me to understand my place in the world. If I'm constantly thinking about all these other sort of life sources that depend on my good way of being for their good way of being, it helps me to live a better life in terms of like, things that feed me and feed my family's soul and and that's that's kind of where I am at for an introduction.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, that was beautiful. Thanks for sharing those pieces of you and such a great way to start, especially, you know, in this time of spring and summer of things coming alive again and sprouting. So the things that you connect with really just seem to fit with the times. Right. And fit with what we're going through just as as a population together. So thanks for sharing that. And the next question we have here is what is your method of artistic expression and why is it important to you?
Danielle Boissoneau: I think this is an interesting question, especially in the context of what's been going on the past few days. Creativity is usually how I express my pent up feelings that I shove down. Like I've written poems about, like working at a non-profit like, you know, and things like that. Right. But the past few days, I've had any like... A huge block. Like my mom survived Shingwauk Residential School up in Sault Ste Marie, so when I heard the news about the 215 [unmarked grave at Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc, former site of an Indian Residential School], I had first thought that it was an old article. And I was then, you know, and then hit me and I was like, wow, you know, and then. You know, I was like, usually when those sorts of things happen, my first go to is to like write about it, to create something, even if I'm just like speaking into my voice recorder. But I was so blocked, so, so blocked and to the point that I couldn't even cry. Right. And like the thing about it, though, is that, like, I think part of my artistic expression is being free with my tears. So there's been times when I've been in groups of people and it'll be like the first day and I'm just like [crying sounds] you know, just crying because, like, I felt like an overwhelming sense of gratitude or like this is something that, like, the ancestors would have loved for us to see us together like this. And then these tears just flow. Right. And I think that the artistic expression and that is normalizing tears and like being okay and not wanting to get people to be like handing them tissues and like here you gotta like, stop crying. You're making people uncomfortable. Like I'm just like tears are okay. And, you know, if we don't think about tears as art, then what are we actually doing with our emotions in terms of it being performative, like the art and the artist, like where the spaces between those two things that like, where's the ma- that's the magic, right?
So, yeah, the past few days I haven't been able to cry, and it was really like, confusing me and I actually met up with my cousin because now I live in Hamilton, so we were out in Six Nations, er we were out at the Mush Hole in Brantford. And I see my cousin and so my cousin was running from the Mush Hole to Six Nations as part of the grieving process for folks who are gathered there and prior to actually seeing him... Folks would check in on me and they'd be like, how are you doing? I was like, I don't know. I was like, I'm just shoving stuff down. I'm just shoving it down. So then like two hours later, I see my cousin John and he used the exact same words and the exact same motion. And I just thought it was so funny, like and I think that that's a Natives way of coping as well. Right. It's like this is a really sad, traumatic experience, but it's funny and we're going to laugh about it, you know? So so there was some of that. But I think another big part of my artistic expression is relying on other people's art as a way to process my own emotions. So it was actually Jeremy Dutcher's music that got my tears flowing. And we're organizing a vigil here in Hamilton tomorrow and I was like, you know, we're a bunch of urban Natives and no one really knows hand drum songs enough in a way to, like, be comfortable in leading because that's like a whole thing, right? Like
Ceilidh Isadore: That’s like an urban theme, eh?
Danielle Boissoneau: Right? Is trying to say and always like for myself anyway, I'm always comparing myself. Right. And I realized that's something that I have to work on. But I was like, well, why don't we just like play some music? I'm like, we're getting speakers. I'm like, let's play some like Jeremy Dutcher or like Fawn Wood, or like people that sing the songs, like it doesn't always have to be us, you know, and we should be okay with that. So I was listening to Jeremy, Jeremy Dutcher and I got my phone da-da-da-da starts going and then like they came, the tears came and I sobbed for like 30 minutes. And and for me that artistic expression was being vulnerable with myself. Right. Like artists talk a lot about being vulnerable with other people in terms of sharing their work. But to be vulnerable with myself meant to be like okay with feeling broken and knowing that that brokenness isn't who I am, but it's what I'm experiencing. And that in that manner of accepting my brokenness and translating that through my art, that it helps other people to see that that it's okay. And like there's other people going through it. And at the end of the day, we're all here for each other, and that's a huge generalization because sometimes we're not. But like, you know, I think that's the overwhelming passion and like, the thing that gets things started for people is this desire to want to help, or to create something beautiful for other people.
Ceilidh Isadore: Thank you for sharing that. Those are a lot of what you were saying was exactly what I was experiencing with the past few days as well. So you talking about that really affirmed my experience. And I think it'll affirm other people's experiences with it as well. I remember a few times this week I was thinking, like, we find out this like I remember being in grade nine and finding out news like this. Right. Of this many students found underneath a Residential school. And and so when this news started coming out in it, it created like a I guess, a wider shock, like a bigger shock. That part was making me angry because it's like we've known this for so long.
And I remember being 12, like trying to like going to the rallies in Ottawa and doing activism with my dad because it wasn't a choice. I didn't have the option to just forget about it. And we never have the option to do it. And all week I've been trying to shove it down down too because it's like it's almost like it's a great way to in your face, right. At times when other stuff happening. And I felt the same way normally during these times. I really want to put it into artwork and creation and get some representation out of there. But the capacity was there and it is so liberating recognizing when the capacity isn't there.
I definitely learned that lesson a few times of feeling like really, really guilty when it's not there and feeling like, oh, you know, like I'm almost wasting my gifts or like I'm just like wasting time. But I'm slowly learning that it's always going to be there for us when we decide to pick it up. And more often than not, it's it's better. It's brighter. And it's it's more like it can impress people more with that healing thing. Right. And and what you're saying about being and like feeling your emotions through other people's artwork and recognizing your grief through other people's artwork, that's something that really, really, really helps me. And it's nice knowing that when we don't have capacity, there's another Indigenous artist out there who does. And I feel awesome that ties into what you're talking about, just playing the music. Right.
So conditioned to only play Round Dance songs or only play Hand Drum songs when we're trying to do activism or make a stand or use our voice. But there's so many other artists and genres and people, are people with different kinds of medicine. So yeah, I just wanted to say thank you for those reminders. Something that makes me feel like I'll be able to feel my emotions more and get more into it as it is dancing. Like I really feel like I need to dance today. I'm a jingle dress dancer and like the past few months, it's harder for me to even just practice. I think it's because of like how much my body's holding. And so I know that, yeah, with those times when I do when I can come in and when I can just like, be free for a few minutes, a lot, a lot happened. So like you got that connection with song and music. I'm going to try and get that connection with dance later. So thank you.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah. Yeah. So the next question we have here is which piece of work are you most proud of and why Indigenous?
Danielle Boissoneau: So I wrote a story in 2019 at that Centre for the Arts, and I called it Chief Super Sacred (laughs), and I don't know that I can even describe it in like one of those, like funky three word sentences that people do. But it's really a story, I would say that it's... When I perform the story, so I wrote the story out there, I actually got into Banff Centre for the Arts with another story, but when I was out there in the mountains this story came to me and I knew it was special because it just kind of flew off my pen and I laughed as I was writing it and like, oh, this is so good and kept going right. So I shared it with the mentors and they were like, wow, I love it. And then, it was like a three week residency and I was there with a bunch of spoken word artists, so they're like really good at just like rhyming off their stuff. Right. And they're just they're so good, they memorize stuff and like I'm like, I felt this need almost to be like them. So then I was like, well, let me try to perform one of my poems because I write poetry, but I don't speak it like I just write it, I'm like, you can read this if you want. So I tried really hard to do that. And it just wasn't vibing like it was like a 16 word poem, or a 16 line poem. I couldn't memorize it, things weren't like it just wasn't working.
So then I went back to this story and I was like, you know what? I'm just going to perform this story. And it's a story about, it's like um, almost like, how do you say what's that word? Not like when you're mocking someone, like you're mocking someone - satire, like satire, and it's this story about this chief that's like, you know, he goes into the boardroom of his band office on his reserve and like he has his own grand entry song and he has like a cape like made from like the bark of stolen trees that he sold in like a backroom deal and like and things like this. He's got like the bolo tie and like all the fingers full of, like, turquoise rings. But he treats women and Two Spirit people really shitty, talks a lot about Robert's Rules of Order. And then without like giving away too much of the story that the ending just shifts to the point that this man is humbled, like so humbled, and I think that that's my favourite piece of work.
Like, I haven't actually published it anywhere. I've only performed at that one time. The kind of laughter that the audience was like responding with was like, I really love to bring joy to people, you know. And and sometimes I think that especially in our circles, like in terms of like Indigenous people and black people and racialized people who experience immense amounts of trauma, like every day, that those feelings of joy are often like, looked down right? Like, why aren't you as sad as me? Like, your happiness means that you're not experiencing as much trauma as I am, you know, and like. It's a complex web for our people right now, so I'm not saying anything like judgmentally about people, but it's kind of the way that we are, you know, like it's hard to see people be happy. And so if I'm able to add joy to people's lives through a story, then that's my greatest artistic expression. I just want people to laugh. And if it's at the expense of a couple of patriarchical capitalist chiefs, Indian Act chiefs, then so be it. You know, like. Yeah, and that's fodder, you know. Yeah.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah. That's awesome. I'm really happy that you're able to make so many people laugh in that moment. And and even if it's not published or it's not out there for the rest of the world to see, you're always going to have that such powerful memory in you. And I could even tell when you were describing it, it was like you were. I was I was trying to picture best as possible. But as you were speaking, you were totally lighting up and, like, exuding that energy. Yeah, I'm grateful, and who knows, maybe there'll be a chance where you decide to bring that else somewhere, somewhere else again and then or you'll just leave it at that and leave it with those people who needed it that night. Right.
Danielle Boissoneau: So who knows. Actually, one of my mentors was suggesting trying to make it into a graphic novel. So I was really into that. But then I like like three weeks is over when I was like back to my normal life. And I'm like, oh, it's like I don't have time to think about a graphic novel. So that's kind of what happened there.
Ceilidh Isadore: You know, it's so funny. And like, those amazing ideas come and you're, like, obsessed with every day. And then the next day you're like, I don't have time for this. You can do that right now. Yeah, no, it's nice to know that it could revisit us. Right. So there's always some options there. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that story. The next question we have that connects well with artistic expression is which artists or art movements have you been influenced by?
Danielle Boissoneau: So lately, I've really been fascinated by exploring Indigenous Futurisms, and I think it's because, like I have, I believe that if we can see something, we can make it happen. Like and like I don't... It's just so hard because, like, those hippies have, like, really kind of appropriated every single thing. Right. So if I'm like if I can see it in my mind's eye, then it's something that I can work towards. Right. And then in my mind's eye, am a fucking hippie says mind's eye that I like. I don't want to see that. But you know what I mean, right? Something that you can visualize. Right. And then so by imagining our futures, I'm like we can create them. Right.
But then I heard... So one of my favourite artists is actually Leanne Simpson. And and I was listening to one of her talks and she was talking about Indigenous Futurisms, and she kind of challenged the concept of being in a future tense all the time, because then she was suggesting that we're not being [unclear] concept. All right, then, if we're live, we're constantly living on like a future tense, then it removes our ability to be like in the present. Right. And I really appreciated that because I enjoy being challenged, like I enjoy having my thought processes challenged. And I think because that's what feeds my soul as an artist is I think like being said yes to all the time is like really boring. And I think that, like, people being like, that's so cool. And I'm like, but is it actually, though, like, tell me what you really think. Like, let's get a creative process going on here, right? Yeah. So Leanne, when she said that, it got me to thinking about like, how we've been kind of conditioned to believe that we can only be one thing at a time. So how I kind of like got the two ideas merging together in my brain and the way that I processed it was that, like, we can be different things at the same time and it doesn't make us less normal or whatever. I think what it is, really is that we need to stop seeing ourselves from the eyes of the colonizer. Like we we really need to like look at ourselves the way that our ancestors would look at us, you know, for example, like, hey, look at you, like you're being present. You're also imagining the future. You are capable of so many good things, you know, and not limiting ourselves because that's what the colonizer does. colonizer limits us. Right. And especially as like Anishinaabe artists. How are we, you know, remembering the power of who we are by extending ourselves beyond what colonizers think that we should be. Right.
So that's what is inspiring me these days, is like imagining futures and like especially because I feel that we have to plan ahead. I think this isn't going to last forever like this. And I firmly believe that to be true. I do not think that this is the end of the world for us. Might the end of the world for everybody, like it might be the end of this world. That's when I think, right. I think the end of this world. And how are we preparing ourselves to live in the future, even if it's like healing ourselves in the way that we can coexist with each other without trying to hurt each other because we don't know any other way to be like. And what if the future is imagining healing in the present? Right. Like, how am I healing alongside my people, you know? And it's not just me, but it's the People. So, yeah, I think a lot (laughs).
Ceilidh Isadore: I love your thoughts. If it's okay with you we can go into the next section here, which is some childhood reflections. And so this one talks about how does the land and the water where you are from influence your work?
Danielle Boissoneau: That’s a great question. So where I'm from is kind of like in the hub of between like Lake Superior and Lake Huron, I think there's a great in there. There's like a little nub. So that's where I'm from, so I grew up on the shorelines of the Great Lakes, Lakes Superior and Lake Huron. And I think one of my most prevalent childhood memories is like so I was raised as an only child. So a lot of the times the land and the water were like my only friends, you know? And so I might go in, like run around on like like rock faces. So like especially like up north, Lake Superior area, there's like a lot of rock faces that are like on the water and then there's often like bush behind it. So I remember this one time I forget what my dad was doing, but I was all by myself and I'm like running around. And I used to love to just like run but like be bare feet because I knew if I had my shoes on, I was going to fall. Right. So I'd be running around bare feet, hopping from rock to rock. And then I got bored of it, and then I was like, I am going to go into this bush and I am going to go try to get lost. And so, like, I purposely went in there and I purposely tried to get lost and didn't I end up at the same friggin spot where I went in? Like and it happened like twice. And it was so bizarre because, like, I think at that time I didn't fully realize that the land in the water is alive. Right. And that there is a spirit and energy in those places that we recognized. Before colonization, I think some of us still do recognize when we open ourselves to it, but at that time I wasn't fully aware of what was happening. And when I think about it, I'm like, if I really did get lost, I'm like. Who knows what would have happened, like who knows? Like I might have run into like a bear like might've got lost and just been exposed. So I feel like when I think about it now in terms of like what happened there was like, I believe that the land and the water didn't let me get lost. And I believe that they turned me around to where I was supposed to be. They're like, you're not going to go get lost, you silly. Like, go back to your dad. What are you thinking right now? You know, and then in terms of, like, how my art practice, how that relates to my artistic practice, I think is really in trusting. And not just myself, but like you were saying earlier, like my helpers. Right. Because my artistic practice, what happens is my best writing comes when I'm like, flowing. Right. And that's the way that I express it because it's literally like just this, like, you know, [makes circular hand motion towards Danielle] and if I'm like just like listening and writing sometimes I don't think when I write the words are mine actually, you know and that I'm just like a vessel or I'm just like a tool to get these words to people. And so being on the land and like trying to get lost and that not happening for me is like some sort of affirmation in that, like I have a purpose and maybe my purpose is to, like, bring joy or laughter to people, or maybe it's to make people be okay with hearing the truth or, you know, what have you. But like, trust is really what that was about.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, I love that so much. And trust is a really hard thing to learn from or to really, like, feel alignment with. I feel like when we're trying to learn from other people. Right. When we're trying to learn what trust from other people, I think like just hearing that story for me, I feel like learning that trust they're trying to learn what trust is through other folks. There's so many layers to that. And there's so, like this, right? There's so much experiences and traumas that come into play. But learning how to trust with like through the land or through such a powerful elements, like the way I view that story is I just think that that trust that you created with the land further helps and just creates that trust with people in a natural way where you don't have to, like, fight for it or search for it deeply and obviously it's going to fluctuate because not everybody can have our energy and our access. Right. But it's really beautiful to hear that there's, you know, and I think it's going to help other folks listening that there's multiple ways to access trust and to build trust and to get closer to that. And I'm really happy that you had that experience of the land. When I was listening to the story, I was even saying they're not going to let her get lost. They were like, you know, like a little, you know, your little self just so full of light and curiosity. I can I was thinking that feel like they wouldn't let you get lost. And so I was happy to hear about how that conclusion happened twice. Right.
Danielle Boissoneau: (laughs) The funny thing is, is that I thought at the time that there was something wrong with me. Yeah. So, yeah, it turns out not to be.
Ceilidh Isadore: So cool. How many times do we think that as a kid? Right.
Danielle Boissoneau: Yeah.
Ceilidh Isadore: And then oh our helpers were just taking care of us or all of us were just actually, you know, guiding us in a better direction. And that's always the best for making that younger self proud, that inner spirit child and and seeing all of the little accomplishments and feeling that's one of the youth here that was here the other day. And I told her it's so important to celebrate any time that you feel proud of yourself or you did something, you were working on something and and you realize you worked on it for a few weeks or a few months and finally you were able to do it. I told her I was being honest. I said I'm twenty two years old is really, really, really hard for me to stop and congratulate myself. And just say, no, I did that and my spirit did that. And I have trust in myself and my ability and and the thing that actually helped that I was really struggling with that. I did a few of these interviews in the past. And about two months ago I did an interview and I was in a poor relationship. So my clarity wasn't all there. And I felt really, really like almost guilty or sad that I thought I didn't provide enough space for one of the conversations and I put my all into onto the table. But afterwards I still kept thinking, oh, maybe if I was in a better space or maybe if that relationship wasn't happening, it could have been better. I could have been more present. And then a few days ago, I got an email from her like this huge email, like how well I held space and how like. Yeah, like, I'm still surprised how I shared space and how, like, it was memorable and how she wants to share gifts with me. And as soon as I like, as soon as I got that email, like my whole body was in chills and I was emotional and that's I talked to my helpers again and I was like, okay, I see you. I was like, you know, I was so worried about this and I've been worried about this. Like, I'm really passionate about awesome projects like this and and, you know, making sure that people's medicine is really honoured and kept safe. And so I'm always trying my best. And just to just to have that all affirmed in my eyes, and just in such a clear way, I was just like I told them, okay, I'm going to stop doubting myself and stop giving myself such a hard time because it's unnecessary. It doesn't need to be like that. And and I share that teaching with her, that story with her. And I just reminded her any time, like anything that's so, so, so small, if you're happy, just take a few, you know, a few moments, a few minutes, even celebrate for the next few hours or the night of just saying no, this is the work that I did. I'm so proud of myself, am so grateful. And I'm going to keep going, you know, and and just have those moments. And so she was really happy to hear that. And and the youth are so amazing at being present when you could just you could break anything down, any sort of complex idea that we may think is too complicated. Like, no, it's all available to the youth in a way that they can understand. And we just have to keep trying and delivering that message in ways that work for them. So those are some stuff that I'm learning. And thanks for sparking those things in me to so. So the next question we have here is how did your gender identity or sexual orientation influence early years and how has that influenced your work?
Danielle Boissoneau: So I was actually just thinking about this the other day, I think because I seen a meme or something that was something about tomboys, right. So as I was growing up, my mom would always call me a tomboy because, like, I'd hang around with boys or like I did, like, "like boy stuff" or like I got dirty and I wear pants all the time, like stuff like that. Right. So having this like, this tomboy identity placed onto me almost made me feel like I needed to be something else, right, because that tomboy identity wasn't given to me in a way that, like, "you're doing so good." It was like, "oh, you're such a tomboy, like when (unclear)." And it was always that. Right.
So now I think, like as I'm older and specifically as a mother, that it's my responsibility to provide safe spaces for my kids to be who they are authentically with love and support and like not trying to make them be anything else because then they're going to spend their entire life trying to remember who they are. And like, that was my experience and trying to like it was almost like a shameful thing, you know, like this tomboy identity. And especially because, like, I'm taller, like I have big shoulders and like big muscles and things like that, whereas, like, my mom is like really petite. And so, like these size differences, like they still are in my brain, right. Where I'm like, you know, to me the epitome of like femininity is like like tiny petite people with, you know what I mean? But like part of my process in exploring my gender identity and being comfortable and owning who I am is being comfortable with and owning who I am. Right. So like I love being Femme. So I'd, I like my identity. I'm like I'm really like I think I identify in english, like in an Indigequeer Femme. So I love like putting on the performative feminine thing, like I love earrings, like a love makeup and I love like these things like I love wearing skirts to ceremony and all these things. But it's almost like it's femme to the point of like this outer shell, almost, you know. But the thing is that I love my shell and I also love going into spaces and like, you know, I have my lipgloss, my highlighter, my earrings, my hair's done. And then someone's like, I can't start this fire. And then I go over there and, like, pull up my skirt. And I'm like, it's like I can help, you know? And then, like, people's faces are like (gasps) you know, like, what is this? You know, it's like that. Like, I don't want to call it confusion, but like almost like a chaos, I guess, like a creative chaos in that it's not harmful to anybody, but it's getting people so jumbled up in their minds that they're just like so open to what could possibly be next. And that's been my experience. One of my kids is Non Binary and has changed their name and uses they/them pronouns and my mom just refuses to use their name and constantly dead names them. And at first what was happening was like we had the conversation and they and I was like, you know, I don't want to make grandma upset. Like, let's use my old name when she's around. And then at first I'm like, like, are you sure this is what you want? And they're like, Yeah, like, let's do it. And then we were doing it and it just it didn't feel right. Like even though that was their wish at the time, like they're nine years old. Right.
And I felt like my job as a parent is to assert for them at this time those safe places. And at nine years old and like I think that's the thing for us right now, like in this time and spaces that we're trying to recreate safety. And so my colonizer brain that's like the colonizer voice inside my head is like, you know, like I'm the mom. I know what's best. Right. And then I'm trying to decolonize myself. So then I'm like, I've got to take the lead from my nine year old. And then when I mesh these two in together and like like leaving out the colonizer self, but more so like the mother brain, that my responsibility as a mother is to create a safe space based on what they think should happen. But like with a little bit more of like, well, you know what? [spelling for their name] We are going to call you [spelling for name], because that is your name. And if Grandma doesn't like that, that's too bad, because that's not Grandma's name. I was like, that's your name. And we're going to make this space for you. And then, like, their face just lit up and things changed, right? Because I really felt like we were just trying to do something that would create less conflict as possible. You know. Then as a mom, I'm like asserting safe spaces. So it's like the intergenerational stuff, too, like trying to make it so that my kids have as less to work through when they're adults as possible. That's really what I'm trying to do, yeah.
Ceilidh Isadore: Is all what is what it's all about. Right. Like that. And so rewarding to know that you're doing your best and hopefully someone is getting something out of that too. And that's what that story really seems like, is the way I look at it. Like you took a little bit of that, like motherly instinct and then a little bit of what they wanted. And then you, like, also understood the situation. And although they chose no it's okay, like, we'll just keep it like that. You listen to that gut feeling of like, no, I think my child needs this because of like and it's not like I don't view that as just like assuming my child needs this because I assume I know my child so well. It was like you're listening to that because you connect like spiritually and that connection that you carry and that like, you know, there's that bond that you carry was telling you that message. And that's so important. Right. And I'm thinking, too, they're going to live there their whole life. And remember, especially probably like 17, 18, 19, you know, remember like remembering that time of when their their mom advocated for something that was uncomfortable. Right. Like, I'm sure like I can't I can't relate, but just just soaking up the story and just being with the story, you know, they needed to be seen and acknowledged in that moment and they thought, you know, it's okay if I don't get it. And they and like all of us, we think, oh, we don't need that all the time. Like we're still going to live. It's okay. But it's okay to take the extra step to be seen to, you know, and take that extra step to acknowledge and to to be like, no, this is who I am. And I know if your family and if you respect me and if you love me, you're going to walk with me and learn with me. Right. And that's what community is about during those hard times, those hard conversations, they still like dedication and commitment and the respect that respect is so huge of, okay, we're in relations and we're in reciprocal relations. And so I'm going to try my best to make you feel comfortable and make you feel just you. Right. So that was a really, really awesome story. I love hearing it. All right, so the next question we have is. But what role did I play and how has that influenced your work? So that's kind of similar to what we spoke about a little bit, but yeah, whatever direction you want to take that.
Danielle Boissoneau: So I don't know that I necessarily became aware of art, maybe until my 20s look like I knew of art, but I didn't internalize art as a thing like. Like for me, growing up, a lot of it was like I understood art is something that we did in art class and it was something that had to be done that look like what the teacher did and like wasn't so much about me expressing my creativity as it was about like satisfying someone else's needs. And so as a kid, I think my closest and most profound interaction with art was like when my mom would sing to me and she had an acoustic guitar and she would always kind of like find space for her and I to just hang out and she would sing on her guitar and she'd give me a tambourine or something. And, like, she would, we'd play music together. And I think that that's my first memory with art in the sense of it being something that expressed feeling into the world, and especially because my mom is a survivor, like I didn't really experience her expressing herself emotionally. Like even to this day I can count on my hand the times I've seen her be emotional, you know. So that that time of being with her and then seeing her be vulnerable and like singing. And I think that impacted me the most because I knew that she was doing it like she was trying to, like, steal a way to find these moments to be herself when she included me in those moments. And I guess that would be that. Yeah.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, that's what I was thinking about. When you're saying that, like, as much as I think she was singing for you and like for like a connection, like I was really getting, like, feeling that in my body, like she was singing for herself, like, so strongly. Right. And I'm so grateful that she has that. And and it reminds me that sometimes it's so like it's a lot easier for adults to be vulnerable with children. Right. In those ways. And then it gets harder if they grow up like I know like just thinking on my experiences. I know I've experienced I'm vulnerable, vulnerable moments, being a kid and seeing, you know, an adult show, they're vulnerable side. And then as you get older and the kid starts to understand a little bit more, there's like two shows there where like what the adult wants wants to hide and the kid wants to hide as as they mature. But that that transparency and just like the the power of just being us as a you know, as a kid and when we're taking care of those those young ones, like that's so beautiful and powerful and just makes me think about how we can start to bring that in even when it's uncomfortable, like even when we don't want to maybe sing sing with someone we haven't done it before. Maybe we don't want to, you know, show someone or poetry or something like just going into that experience with someone else can open up so many doors of healing, of remembering, of growing. And yeah. So thank you for sharing that. It was the I definitely felt like that. The lightness of of of those memories and and your mom singing. Well, so the next question we have is how does the generation you grew up with influence any ideas about art?
Danielle Boissoneau: Yeah, because like so, let's see. So I was born in 1980 and I think a lot about like the music I used to listen to. So like Bananarama and like early 80s kind of music, like having like a tape deck and, you know, being poor to the point where I had to get creative in terms of how I was getting and keeping music. So, I mean, so we used tapes (laughs) it feels weird to kind of like, so back in my day. No, but like so we have the tapes. Right. And the way that we used to record on tapes was where we put tape over this one little part. So that we can record from the radio onto this tape and there had been something on it before anyway, doing a lot of that. Right. So. Having to be resourceful in terms of like working with what I had, and I think that that also speaks to like I wouldn't necessarily say that I grew up in abject poverty, but like, I was definitely not one of the kids that have made all the new things or like I was always like five months behind and like all of this stuff. So the combination of poverty and living in the early 80s meant that, like, I was drawing a lot of the time, like I think some of the best things that I feel like I made was like I would use one rock to draw on another rock. But it was all very like just using what I had. And that's the biggest memory for me. And I think about that a lot, especially in the context of like what I provide for my kids. And it's almost like I overcompensate for my kids. And so I'm like, oh, you want this, I want this. You need these tools. I'll get it. It's, it's almost like where's that balance of like being resourceful and then being provided for as well, you know? And I think that's my biggest lesson is because without that ability to to recognize what I have already and without the resources to be able to kind of use tools in a way to like use material goods to expand my practice, like, for example, like buying a zoom recorder, because I'm really interested in exploring sharing my art with my voice. Like, that's not even something I would have ever crossed my mind when I was a kid, like, you know, so. So those are some of the things and this it's really funny because I was like, I think I'm really starting to become aware of my age in terms of like because I got teenagers now and things like that. And I'm like, oh, I remember when I was 17. Wow. So so yeah, that was a great question.
Ceilidh Isadore: And so many memories. Right. And hey, I love when you're talking about like playing with the rocks are just like finding art and just so many different ways of taking it too seriously at the time. But I love thinking about being a kid and just how our hands just knew what it needed to do. Right. Like our hands just started drawing. Our hands just started working with things like taking the rocks and using it. And although we weren't thinking about it or, you know, looking at the bigger picture, our body still needed to, you know, put out that medicine and and those stories, create those stories. I'm learning how healing these stories are and how healing art is not only for the person doing it, but everyone who interacts with it. And and, yeah, it's it's so awesome just looking back on what it started with. Right. Of like like you said, you never get a zoom recorder. You would probably never thought to have some some of the art tools that you have or or the supplies that you have. And it's like here we are like it's so crazy and always important to look look back on it and just see how far we how far we've come. Yeah. So if it's good with you, did you like how are you feeling? I'll just do a little check in now. Do you feel like you need a water break or like a bathroom break or anything?
Danielle Boissoneau: Yeah. Do you want to take a little break? Five minutes-ish.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, that's perfect. We can just turn our cameras off just do whatever.
Danielle Boissoneau: Okay.
Ceilidh Isadore: All right. I'll be back in five.
Danielle Boissoneau: okay.
Ceilidh Isadore: All right, good to keep going?
Danielle Boissoneau: Yeah, skoden, stoodis.
Ceilidh Isadore: Let's do this. All right. So the next question we have here is what cultural teachings around gender and/or sexuality do you feel comfortable sharing and how do they relate with your art practice?
Danielle Boissoneau: It's interesting because I don't know that I've had teachings that I identify with. As an Indigequeer person. The teaching that I have received are like super binary-ish. Like you wear a skirt, you sit here. If you're on your period, you're going to, like, mess up everything for the entire world. So just like, um but but I think in that, you know, I almost feel like before I came here to to Earth. That also sounds weird, but I like being here from the spirit realm. I really believe that one of the contracts that I made with myself was that I would live a life that was kind of challenging because something that brought me to that understanding was that, like, I found myself constantly saying, oh, I really love challenges. If things aren't a challenge, I am so bored like, you know. And then I was like, thinking about it. I think I was actually in ceremony and I was fasting and I was like. I'm actually like here morning challenges, because you're still, like, hard and like, you know, I spent my whole life trying. Like I was raised by a survivor of Residential Schools, so I spent my whole life trying to find my way back to my culture, you know, like especially when it was so internalized, like oh ceremonies are like the devil stuff, you know, like. So so I ended up having to like... Trust myself like we were talking about earlier, right, and I trust the teachings that I was receiving from my guides in terms of like, you know, it doesn't matter if you're wearing a skirt, that fire needs to get started. And if they can't do it and you can do it, just do it. You know? Like those are the things that come to me when I'm in ceremony or, you know, for example, if they're like the... If Two Spirit people coming to the lodge and they're non binary and they don't want to sit on either the women's side or the men's side, you know, like going up to the lodge keeper and being like, so where's the space for these people? And not being afraid I think being courageous about it is one of my biggest teachings in that, and that not only just for myself, but for the younger people. Because what's going to happen is if the younger people don't feel safe in our lodges, they're going to find somewhere else to go. And at this time, it's so imperative that we're having our young people back in our lodges because these teachings, our languages, like we're not static, we're not. And what's going to happen to our people is that because we're made of water, like we're going to stagnate if we don't evolve our teachings. And and that, I think is one of the biggest teachings for me is that, like how we're always changing and that if we're looking to the land and the water is like our like our role models or what have you or the animal world like, that we see that they're also constantly growing and evolving and changing and adapting to the environment around them while also creating the environment around them. You know that there's no fear in that there's like just love and courage. And those are teachings that I kind of like picked up on my own in terms of like my experiences and not having Two Spirit elders to necessarily be around all the time. Like, I know there's a few, but they're almost so few and far between that I almost like like someone else must need their help more than me. What is it like for this person? You know, it must be so hard to just, like, be comforting so many young people that are just like I just want to be seen like and there's someone like you and, you know, so. Yeah, love and courage. And that's really what it's about for me.
Ceilidh Isadore: And listening to that made me so happy. I even like clapping my hands, which I think is just like something I really needed to hear and just brought a lot of comfort to my whole body. And that's so nice knowing that we always have them to be inspired by, take note of, connect with, communicate with and, yeah, like they share their traits with us all the time without us knowing. And I always like I'm starting to learn that now how much the animals to share their highest traits and qualities with us, especially if you're, you know, engaging or communicating in some way like they really see you and they really hear you. And so yeah, it's ah ah you need that. And some of the stuff you talked about, like reminded me of when I was at Trent. I was I got into fire keeping, like during the entire time we had like a beautiful traditional area and I grew up around fires and stuff and and there was just a lot of that like like I was like I was the one who was taking care of the space, like making sure that we had like a schedule and just like making sure things like run correctly. And so people would always say, like, oh, you're a woman fire keeper, you're not supposed to be doing that and where's like the men around. And I was like just all the time, like, you'd have to kind of go into those conversations and be yourself, you know, like I can do it, like, really good fire. It's like I don't know what to tell you. I hope it takes care of you. Well, I hope you go home safely. Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean my fire's any less powerful or safe. And and so that was always strange. I remember a lot of times I be like making fires. It's like fake nails on like acrylics. And people do like, whoa, how do you do that? Like how can you pick up wood?
Danielle Boissoneau: (laughing) How can you pick up wood?!
Ceilidh Isadore: Like yeah. Like what you're saying earlier, it's like chaotic and confusing because like you want to be like just like strong for yourself and just like you know, kind of just take no shit and just feel like, you know. No, like this is how I am. Just take it. And then when you're in the moment sometimes and people are like, give me the micro aggressions and making you feel a little dismissed, you want to just kind of like hide up in a ball sometimes. I get like that, I like I'm just like. I'd rather not deal with it or like like I really hear you, like they're hitting me hard, like you could stop now and but those those things are just always helping me become, you know, just okay with myself and yeah, just trust myself and that that connection. And and so these conversations have to happen to to help us be in unity. Right. And help the community keep happening and keep like hopefully, I guess to the point where Two Spirit folks come into the space and they don't have to, you know, just be like stared at and looked at and be like, where are you going to go? Like, I know that was like a lot of the treatment of slingin... Identify as Two Spirit so sometimes I don't want to wear the skirt or sometimes I want to dress another way. And there's that treatment. So, yeah, we're always working towards just not meeting those glasses. Right. Those blinders to look upon each other with those those judgey eyes.
Danielle Boissoneau: Absolutely. I was also thinking about, like my response, because when you were sharing about your response, when people come and ask questions and like, that's the response I see from people like so, so often right? and I don't know if I see my femmeness as like a kind of armour, but I know that's something that I do know, is that when people find me pleasing to their eye, they will treat me differently. So say, for example, like being at a fire, like cutting wood, whatever, my highlighter on, things are like glittery and shiny. You know, and someone come and be like, so like, why are you doing this blah blah blah? I was like, well, you're not doing it, so who's going to do it? You know? And then that's like that Rezzy part of me, you know, like as much as I'm living in this city, there's still that part of me that grew up with, a bunch of Rez kids that just roasted each other all the time because that's all we had to do, you know, like make fun of each other. And like I mean, sometimes, like, I got made fun of a lot. Like, I remember my cousins being like, I'm going to call immigration on you and like, things that were like not okay, but like taking that like teasing, that teasing nature of that of that and like using that to our advantage. Like but I do realize that, like, I think it's going to happen more. The more that our community builds out in, the more that we find each other and just take back these spaces and it happens a lot. Like I'll be in ceremony and I'll say something that's really funny to someone who's being a jerk and then, like the young people come to me like, wow, that was so cool what you said. And like, that's the kind of stuff that gets me through the days you know, that me being a jerk maybe help someone, you know?
Ceilidh Isadore: And even just listening to, like, your perspective of that and just bringing that like that's our roots right of community and that's what we've grown up with. And it's not like as much as some people will look at us as like, oh, they're being like blunt or they're just being harsh like, no, we're just speaking truth. Right. And it's like and sometimes you just need to say that truth if people aren't picking it up, right, and just like making their own connections. And so I'm just listening to that helps me bring that into conversations more. And when that happens, like when I want to turn into a ball, like just to challenge myself, to go into that humour and that like natural state of like what I really want to say and how empowering it is. And I definitely look up to a lot of folks like like the youth you're talking about when they do say like the you know, the sassy comment, or like the come back and you're like, yeah, it's like I like laughing inside for so long. I remember so many times in the tipi, especially just like chucking like looking away and you know, like. Because sometimes people don't even like, pick it up when they're being called out on something or when they said something disrespectful, they will continue and then everybody else in the room is like, well, like you deserved that call out.
Danielle Boissoneau: Yeah, yeah.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, yeah. That was an awesome story. Alright. So this next question we have is, as an Indigenous artist, what is your experience with mainstream art scenes and what has been useful for you either as a Two Spirit, trans, non binary, or woman artists in terms of solidarity and support from non-Indigenous artists?
Danielle Boissoneau: Interesting. So I live in a city called Hamilton. There's a lot of gentrification happening in the city, like a lot of folks coming from Tkaronto and the gentrifying the poorer areas of the city. So I think it was thousand nineteen, I got contracted as a writer-in-residence for an Arts organization here in the city, and they wanted me to write poems and essays about gentrification as an Indigenous person. And I sat on this contract for like eight months and I was just like, can I do this? I was like, because I could give two shits about gentrification. I'm like, I don't fucking care, you know? Like that was the thing, I couldn't force myself to write about something that I didn't care about because like I was saying earlier, that flow. Right. That flow wasn't happening for me with this topic. I think because my passion is like writing for my people and like writing to make my people feel better. And it's not that like other people can't take part in my writing, but it's not who it's for. Right. So I felt that this project was really for white people, you know, and took me a long time to reconcile within myself as an artist what it meant to push myself beyond my boundaries. Right. Like I had become very comfortable with this, what I was receiving in terms of like this is my writing practice. I just tune in and I write the words that come into my brain and that's my art. So this project really pushed me beyond that. And I had to force myself to engage with words in a way that was commodifiable, I guess. Because I kept saying, like, this project pays me so much money. I had better write some poems. And I think that that's the intersection for me with with art and non-Indigenous people is the commodification. I need money to get groceries, so I will write you a couple of poems, you know what I mean?
But this particular Arts organization that I was working with is different in the sense that it's like an artist run a collective and there's a lot of racialized artists in that collective. So I talked a lot about with the person who had asked me to do this project, and I was like, you know, I'm having like a really hard time. Like, I just can't I just don't care. And then they were like, you know, take your time, whatever works for you. Like, if this isn't a topic that you want to explore. And then, you know, that challenge thing that I was telling you about earlier, I was like, no, no, no. It's like I will write a poem about this. So I actually ended up writing this suite of poems. I think there's about 11 poems and two essays, and I called it Bury My Heart at King and James, which is like an intersection in Hamilton. And I named it that because I literally felt like I was almost burying my artistic soul. Like it's like I was just like I feel like I'm selling myself and like my gifts and my talents.
But what I ended up doing was using gentrification to help people understand what actually happened here before gentrification. So I'm like, this is not the first time this has happened here. Like, you know, these are other things that have been happening. And I use that opportunity as well to like create chances to build a community between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people, specifically Black and Racialized people, because I think that understanding what being a settler means is different for different people. And it really relates to how people exist on the land or with the land. And I think that if someone could get in touch with that connection to the land, then maybe that makes them more part of who we can be as a People. You know, like I don't think it's ever going to be the way people ever go back. That's not going to happen. No one's ever going like this is the way it is, and we have to make the best of what it is. So I really feel like that opportunity was a chance for me to explore that, because prior to, I was like, you know, I have friends who care about gentrification. And I was like, but I was always sort of resentful towards them because I'm like, you don't even get it. You don't get it, you know? So that's what that project helped me to, to understand more. But I think more importantly, actually, within the past year, I've been learning my language with somebody named Isadore Toulouse to lose and I remember one of the very first things that he said when we were teaching was that in our language there's no word for art because we always lived in an artful way. And that shook me to my core, right, because I always thought of art as being something outside of me and rather than art being a way that I live. So so those are two things I think, that kind of explain the way that I deal with art in terms of inner art and outer art.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, yeah. Thank you for the stories, especially the last part you said there. I find I try and say this to the youth as much as possible too. I was doing art workshops with grade fours and fives for a few months there, and I would tell them to please don't look at art in a way that's just painting and drawing and sculpting and these things that we're used to. Art is the conversation we're having now and you just being present and you kicking the soccer ball outside and and anything that makes you feel alive, like anything that makes you feel just warm and just like that fire. And I was speaking about that inner fire to them and and it really changed their perspective. Like when kids really start to understand that art is in us and it's just naturally a part of our spirit. I think that they can get that trust for themselves again. Right. And they can they are just okay with the stuff that comes out because it's all beautiful rather than art is just you know, you have to make this realistic, perfectly shaded image. Like I remember those things have always been to an artist. You know, I felt it in me so crazy, like I always knew I was. And I kept getting frustrated that I couldn't line up with the way society wanted it to so. But, yeah, there's a lot of liberation there when we just recognize art is all around us and in us and never separate.
So this next question is, what has been useful for you as a Two Spirit, trans, non binary, woman artist in terms of solidarity and support from other Indigenous artists?
Danielle Boissoneau: So actually, last night, so I actually work at a sexual assault centre, and last night we did a workshop purely for Two Spirit, queer, trans, racialized people. And I was also grieving a lot the past few days and I was like really trying to I think one of my life goals lately has been to like be okay with the interconnections, my own interconnections within myself, and that how am I bringing my art into this work that I do at my 9:00 to 5:00 and things like that. Right. So we did this workshop last night, and at first I was like, you know, maybe we should just cancel. I was just so tired. I was like, I don't know if I have the headspace for this, but as soon as we got into that space with other Two Spirit people like things changed. Like we were laughing and we were chatting and we were talking about things that are specific to our existences, and we were doing it in a space that was just for us. And so I think that part of my art in terms of being like a queer, femme Indigenous woman, is that like that unapologetic reclamation of time and space and energy and encouraging my kin to do that too, you know, and like that it's okay. And it's okay if you're sassy to that guy, because you know what? Who cares? And so, you know, these are things that like just like bubble up inside of me when I'm around people who are like me, because I know that when we build out these communities that we're back taking back of time and space is something that's meant to happen. Like, our ancestors dreamed of us, and when we own that and remember that we're fulfilling a responsibility and we're becoming. Like we're already sacred just by virtue of our being, but when we're fulfilling our responsibility and making more safe spaces and defending and creating, I think that where this this it's almost like this ancestral responsibility, I believe, that like, we we were put here for a reason. And I think that's the thing that a lot of folks sometimes can't understand is that like, you know, we're here for a reason, you know, and the reason isn't maybe to be like, you know, working like a non-profit or like doing all these things, but these are things that we do because these are the ways that we find connections to do the work that we actually have to do. Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ceilidh Isadore: Oh, I won't say too much on that because I just want to let it breathe. It was so powerful. I really like when you said ancestral responsibility and I feel like a lot of deep connection. I like to say ancestral communications a lot when I'm like describing my artwork or or dreams or anything like poetry. Like you said, it's such a flow and it doesn't even feel like your words. And I like to use like general language even throughout the day. On my to do list. I'll even put like our day because I don't I don't think it's just me. Like, I can never live here just alone. Like, I can never view it as that. Right. Communities everywhere. And and all of this magic is with it. And and there's a reason why when we come together with all of our Indigenous folks, it feels like we're in this like another world, in another universe and another it's a whole other frequency that it's important to yeah keep tapping into when we when it's right. And I've been in a lot of those experiences where it's like, I don't know, maybe I should cancel or, you know, maybe I won't go to the ceremony, maybe I will go to the talk. And then as soon as you get there, you're like, I needed to be here.
Danielle Boissoneau: Yeah. Yeah.
Ceilidh Isadore: So thank you for answering that question. All right, so just a few more questions left. We're close to the end here, and this one says, How do you offer support and solidarity to artists whose lived experiences are distinct from your own. So there's an example here. And it says, for example, queer Indigenous folks creating opportunities for trans women to work on their own theatre productions. That's just an example of it.
Danielle Boissoneau: So I see a lot as like using my skills and tools to uplift other people who need it and doing so from a place of wanting to rather than feeling like I have to. There's such a huge difference and I think people can feel that difference. Right. And it's so important to be authentic when you're approaching that sort of work because you never really know who you're dealing with and who their helpers are. You know, think you can you can think that you're approaching a situation like no one knows that this is actually what I'm thinking and maybe people do, you know, so (laughs) So I always think it's best to be as authentic and genuine as you can when you're, like, doing this sort of work, because not only do I think that, like, queer, trans, Two Spirit, non binary people, especially who are Indigenous are like unique and amazing. But I genuinely feel like we've been equipped with gifts to be able to handle this life, maybe just like tapping in and trusting or having mentors or people around that can surround us with the kind of knowledge and teachings that we need to embrace that within ourselves. You know, so so I think that my job is like. I've spent a lot of my life like acquiring skills and tools, and I firmly believe that they're not just for me. So, you know, I'll be like, hey, I have this skill and this is how I can help, you know, and and being genuine about it, like also being straightforward and direct about like I don't actually have a lot of capacity right now, like, but I would really love to do this for you. Is this something you would like? Or someone reaches out to me and be like, hey, you're really good at this, can you help with this? And then I'm like, let's do this. Like, this is so cool. Like even if it's like a signal boost or something, you know what I mean? Like demonstrating care and affection, I think especially for our queer, trans, Two Spirit, non binary kin is so essential because no one else is doing it. Like we have to do it for ourselves right now. And and I think things will get better, but unless we're doing it for ourselves and with ourselves and for each other, then like we have to build that foundation, you know, and it's kind of there. Like, I think that, the time and space that we're in right now allows us to be authentically ourselves in terms of our gender and our sexual identity, but we're still living with all of the history that brought us to this place. So we have a special task, I find right now, you know, and supporting each other is the best way to get through it, I think.
Ceilidh Isadore: Absolutely. Yeah, that's a that's a really great way to look at it. And it's I think it's easy to get caught up in the bigger picture of things of like what am I doing to help thousands of people right away or what am I doing to get across to this this person, that person. But it's those small things that make such a difference and those small things that really shape people's foundations and values and perspectives to get them to grow in the way that they need them to be, rather than just feeling like they have to like coffee or like be like you like as a kid. You just always want to be like someone else. And it's nice as you grow older, you know, I could be myself and get like all these influences and all these ideas and these seeds. But at the end of the day, like, yeah, you can stand strong and just be authentically you. And so, yeah, that uplifting is appreciated and definitely felt in this conversation. And I'm sure everybody listening feels that energy as well. So it's definitely not going unnoticed.
Danielle Boissoneau: Yay.
Ceilidh Isadore: All right. So this next question is, how do you use your art to address social and cultural issues?
Danielle Boissoneau: By being really straightforward and blunt about it (laughs). I think the time for niceties and politeness is over. And that's not to say that it's not being said without compassion. Like the thing about compassion for me, I find, is that it's an essential part of being who we are as Indigenous peoples and that that was taken away from us through Residential Schools and the Sixties Scoop and all these traumas that we've endured, right. So us reclaiming our compassion, I think, is an important part of our evolutionary process. And when I do say things that are really straightforward and blunt, I'm saying it with compassion, because I know that without it, like I am not being like authentically myself you know. But that doesn't mean that, you know, where it gets sticky, though is like. So I'm also neurodiverse, so when I speak straightforwardly, I'm saying it with compassion but the person who's receiving it will be like, oh my god like they think like I'm responsible for colonization in Canada. Like, oh my god, what am I going to do? Right. So that communication part is also really essential because I always feel like I need to preface my conversation with, like, I'm a neurodiverse Indigenous woman. And, you know, I might say things that come across as blunt, but I really am just trying to communicate like let's just get to the root of what we're trying to say, you know? And so that that straightforwardness, I feel, is something that people don't necessarily always embrace like people. But it's time. It's time and think it's time that we shine. And I think it's time that we do it without any sort of reflection on the expectations that other people have of us, because if we're constantly living in the shadow of other people's expectations, then we're never going to really be able to embrace our full complexity as like wonderful, brilliant, shiny, happy people. Yeah, that was a bad R.E.M. reference.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, I like what I got from that is just like slowly taking off our mask, right? That that's that we're so used to and so hard. Like I'm having a hard time like unmasking, but it's, it's been so beneficial seeing like other neurodivergerse, uh neurodiverse, diverse folks on like Tiktok and on like just variety of platforms just being them and just sharing and, you know, different black and Indigenous folks, just being them, sharing their cultures and their mind and their power and their beauty and like that stuff is helping me unmask with my friendships. And if I just need to like, fidget and like move my hands around a bunch or like just do, like, the stuff that's not viewed as like typical or average, like. We're just going to do it and it's going to make the other people who are masking feel more comfortable and feel more themselves too. So it always comes back together. Alright. So there's a few questions here. So this second one last one is how does your creative practice involve community and can you share about your process?
Danielle Boissoneau: Hmm. I don't know that my creative process involves community. I think my creative process is very internal and one that I've actually been afraid to share with community. In terms of like so previously, I write like a lot of political essays and I'm like, you know, Canada's a Windigo, like I say, these kind of things. Right. I think this is going to keep me safe. And then I started to explore my poetry and my vulnerability. And that was something that I had to build within myself. Like I had to rebuild that connection with that soft part of myself and in building that community with the different parts of myself, I was able to present myself wholly to everybody else as an artist. And I think that in being myself authentically and genuinely, that then I was able to be part of a community.
But, you know, I am away from home. And I think that's another thing that's hard for me to to create in community. I think one of the spaces, though, that I think that going back to that statement earlier about like art being a way that we live and that we create art in community the most beautifully in ceremony. And, you know, it's not poetry or it's not like visual art or these kinds of things. But when I see women making tobacco ties and like being so careful about how they put their hands together and then wrap it around, I'm like, that is art. You know, or like when we're putting our prayers into the fire and you see the way that the flames kind of like eat up the tobacco, like that is art. And it may not be so much about like the the production of a piece as it is the process by which we are making something and it's a better life. That's what we're doing in ceremony is creating a better life and to me that is the most profound artistic expression.
Ceilidh Isadore: I love that, better life and ceremony. When you're speaking about those things, I was the word that kept coming to me was such presence, right? Like when they're working with those tobacco ties and just being in ceremony, as much as those messages and those stories come to us when we're in flow and when we're doing our art or poetry. When we're in ceremony, it's just so present with us and in our face that it just comes out through words or actions or hand movements. And yeah, I love I love what you said. Anyways, better life and carry that sentence with me. So just last question here and it's a very easy one.
So this one says, would you be interested in participating in any close discussions with periods of shared experiences? And what would you need to make this a safer space?
Danielle Boissoneau: I would love to, especially because of the isolation of covid. I think I took it for granted before being able to gather in spaces with people, and now that I realized how much I yearn for it, that when it finally does happen again, that it'll be a sacred space just by virtue of its existence, even though, like so many Natives, just like I just wanna hang out with people like me and I just thought a lot. But something no one else would get like, that's that's like something that I need and I would love to do in terms of a safe space. I don't know if you got feelings about safe spaces in the expectation that makes it is safe and you can never really guarantee that. I guess I guess one of the things is coming to mind right now is that and by virtue of this whole conversation, the whole process, I feel like it would just be Indigenous or racialized people there anyway. So but that would be something for me that would help to make it a safer space if it was like people who were like us.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, yeah. And then that question has been nice to ask everybody who has been interviewed because it sparks something different in everybody. And like we all kind of have like that similar reaction of faith is such a hard thing to like promise or or or or imagine sometimes. But yeah, it's always good to hear different people's perspectives of what that could be and try and make it as close to that as possible. Well, I'm going to say well, Allio, thank you for your every everything that you said, all of your stories, your medicine, your helpers that were present and all of the all of the things that just wanted to come up in your vessel. It really resonated with me. And even before this discussion, I was talking to my helpers and praying a little bit and just I kept telling myself, I need to be involved with this conversation. This conversation was where I was. So there is a reason why I was chosen to interview you and why you were chosen to be a part of this conversation. And it was really, really making me excited before it even happened. Like just like you can probably really just being neurodivergent. These things can be like anxious and and a little nerve wracking sometimes. But I always try and just like trust the medicine of the power and what will come in the present moment. And so I'm just grateful that it worked out in the way that we kind of knew it would and and that I really hope that the people listening is taking care of it and finding some sort of comfort in the things that we've said, or at least one little thing, one little speed. And yeah, that's what would that that's what matters the most. I think this information out there.
So any last words you wanted to share and maybe any ways people can contact you or maybe see anything of your art if you want to share any of that?
Danielle Boissoneau: No, not really. I don't know. People are kind of like trying to get me to do a website. I keep thinking about it because everyone that's like, do you have a website? And I'm like, no, but like, you know, I feel like. It's probably too bad that I don't have a website or some way for people to get a hold of me, but. I feel like we'll cross paths, we'll cross paths. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, my my kid just said that they keep getting ads for website builders, so,
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, I was going to say that might be a sign. I don't know what websites. I have literally had a subscription like to build my website with the program for a year and like every day I'm always like, I'm going to do that, like just doesn't feel right sometimes, which is okay. Maybe not all our medicine needs to be online. And the folks say, yeah,
Danielle Boissoneau: Aw it was really great talking with you.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, of course. I'm grateful for that time and and I'll continue to, you know, look out for you and I'm sure our paths will cross again. This project has a few stages that they're looking at. So, yeah, I just pray that it all comes together in a way that feels right for everybody.
Danielle Boissoneau: Yay, take care.
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, take care. And I hope your family takes care too, have a great night.
Danielle Boissoneau: You too. Bye bye. Bye.