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Cole Alvis

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.

Cole Alvis InterviewCole Alvis
00:00 / 55:56

“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]

Written Transcript, Interview with Cole Alvis for Kindling

Kirsten Lindquist
 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Is everything sounded good for you. You totally have full control over the conversation. And and the questions are more to prompt you about how just like how you sit with them and how you interpret them and wherever you want to take it. So it's nothing too serious. It's just whatever comes up for experience. And yeah, if that sounds good to you, we can keep it going. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Great. Thank you, I can I add also that they also let some smudge this morning, too, and I just wanted to call in my ancestors and my future descendants and however you call in the spirits or energy or whoever you identify with that I just ask the folks who are listening just to take that time to their bodies when they're listening to this. And I am thinking about the landscapes here and connecting right across Turtle Island. And sorry you will have to remind me how to pronounce your name. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, it's actually pronounced Ceilidh [Kaylee]. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Ceilidh, okay, to to connect with Ceilidh over this distance. But knowing that when we look up at the stars scapes that we're looking at the the ancestors and I just wanted to add that and I am very grateful for the thought and care that has been co-created by this project and by the people that are involved in it. So I just want to express my gratitude as well. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Oh, this was such a great way to open up. And yeah, I trust that we have really good helpers out there keeping us in good hands right now. So if we want to start off with maybe introducing yourself in a way that feels right for you and yeah, we can open it up with getting to know a little bit more about you. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Okay, sounds great, [in the Language]. Hello, my name is Kirstin Lindquist, [in the Language]. I am Métis Cree woman and I also hold Euro settler ancestry and relationality. I'm from northeast of Edmonton, especially [in the Language] and I had lived there for 17 years and I have lived in Edmonton for 17 years and I am a PhD student at the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta and Indigenous Studies. And I suppose that I am a storyteller, creator, transformer. I'm still working around the identity of of artist, but foremost I see myself as a storyteller and trying everyday to be a good relative. So that's that's my opening. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: That's a beautiful opening. So the question we have here is what is your method of artistic expression and why is it important to you? 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: I would say I'm a multi modal expressionist or storyteller, creator. I work with digital visual, mixed media art. I also do performance art and burlesque. I work with mixed medium textiles. So beading and fabrics. I also curate and co-produced Tipi Confessions with the sexy storytelling and performance show with Dr. Kim Tallbear and Dr. Tracy Bear. I also work with plants and tea as a way of working with more than humans in terms of storytelling by listening through the plants and the way that they can tell their stories. And I'm also a researcher through the Academic [unclear], which is also led by Dr Ken Tallbear. And I will be getting into each of those, I assume, through our conversation. But that's just to plant those seeds and we can go from there. I guess the next question is, why are these important to me? 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, if you wanted to, that would be awesome. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: So I actually started in advertising, so I my first degree is a bachelor of Commerce and I majored in marketing and then I worked in advertising for a couple of years and I started working closely with the designers. I'm not a trained artist through Fine Arts program or a Drama program, so it's a lot of self-taught and and learning from others. And so when I worked with the designers, I was very inspired and fascinated by the way they worked with visual art. And so that inspired me to kind of integrate or reconnect with the way that I tell stories through visuals. But it also when I was working in advertising, I realized how far away I got from my centre and how advertising really is foundational to capitalist and colonial mythmaking. And so I had an existential crisis and I realized that I could not keep working in advertising. I know that there are some good storytelling through advertising like public health campaigns, but for the work that I was doing, it didn't it didn't feel truthful to me and the stories that I was telling through work. And so I went back to to do an undergraduate [unclear] degree in Native Studies and Environmental Science. And so that was kind of a a re-centring of, a start to the re-centring in terms of how do I restory, my relations to get back to my relations, to to learn more about and practice being a good relation through my Indigenous identity. 
 
And so when I went to the Faculty of Native Studies, I realized that there was such a strong familial support system through the both the staff and faculty as well as the students. And so this helped me create this container where I could explore and and make connections and start start expressing the stories that needed to be told to start relating to family members and community. And so that was kind of the shift from this idea of advertising and storytelling to unearthing these stories that were in my family and how we can move forward and in restoring [restorying?] and reclaiming these relations. And so I started off with social media as I was coming from advertising. Social media was just starting to to become a part of storytelling, like Twitter was just emerging. They were just starting to hire like social media content curators. So just thinking about the last 10 years of how that has really expanded in the way that people express themselves in social media. So I looked at how Indigenous academics were using Twitter to connect the classroom with the virtual landscape, and then that led me into a Masters of Arts in Indigenous governance, and that opened up another container to tell more stories and to work and explore with digital media and media arts. And so I did a project that was community supervised by the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, and that was probably the most foundational experience that shaped the way that I look at art, media arts, its connection to justice, its connection to the self-determination of Indigenous bodies, especially young Indigenous bodies, and that connection to land. And so I'm going to read a quote off of their website about who both are, who we are section, which is has been really foundational and central to to my work. And so "Media arts justice means telling our own stories about our bodies and lives in ways that accurately represent us by creating our own stories and expressing ourselves through forms of multimedia and arts. We are able to not only push back on demeaning and or stereotyping mainstream narratives, but also collectively create new visions." So I know, I know I've been talking for a long time, so I don't know, it just takes some pause to think about it. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, this is so amazing to listen to and what a wide journey it's been on so many different areas and in categories. And so the next piece, the next question that we have sorry, is which piece of work are you most proud of and why? 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: It's also connected to the my time with the Indigenous Governance program, and so while I was working with youth on digital media art creation, I was also inspired to practice more textile arts. And so I, a bead worker that I met there, Jody, a Métis woman taught me how to make moccasins. I started beading and I was able to make a pair of [unclear] for my grandmother and it was a it was a step in that practice and reclaiming those relations. And she said that never in her life that she thought that she would have grandchildren that would be able to make moccasins just because of how colonialism has disrupted that knowledge transfer. But I think that was a good step for me in being able to give back to my grandmother, who has taken such good care of me over the years. And so being introduced into bead working and moccasin making also connected to the peace that has been also central to my work and understanding, kinship relations and restorying is what I call the Indian Act Unitard. And so I'll describe the piece. And there's many acts that are involved in this piece. 
 
And so, like I mentioned, I created the Indian Act Unitard while I was taking the Indigenous Governance program and Lekwungen and WSÁNEC territories and this was in 2013. And I first created it as a costume for Halloween. However, this piece, and the embodiment within the piece, evolved into a multi site, multi relational expressive performance art project and practice. So I was living with now Dr. Jessica [sp?], who is an Assistant Professor here at the Faculty of Native Studies, and her MA, her master of arts, focused on gendered and racialized aspects of the Indian Act. And so we put together these materials. It was a beige coloured unitard and a beige crop top. And then I printed out sheets of the Indian Act on iron-on transfer sheets, and then we ironed them on to the onto the unitard. And then so when I put the unitard on as a visual expression, the unitard demonstrated how legislation and policy is written on our bodies and how this regulates bodies and relationships. So when you think about the Indian Act, a very hetero-normative, hetero-patriarchal in terms of the ways that it states how state policies of families, so rather than Indigenous kin networks of relating, it's very hierarchical and very hetero-normative in the ways that we can relate through the Indian Act. And so thinking about working with another Indigenous woman who did her research on the Indian Act, how is this restorying or reclaiming of supporting each other? It asks our question. Ask questions of who is left out and how this contributes to gender based violence, and as well as how does this continue to impact young people in care. Where this is continuing to, this policy and legislation, is continuing to disrupt our kinship systems, and so one of the interesting observations is that because the fabric wasn't stretched when we ironed on the Indigenous pages. And so when I put on the unitard, the transfers cracked and the writing became distorted. So I think that was also an interesting observation, is that our bodies can can break apart these policies as well, that we, through resurgence, through resilience, and through reclaiming of relations, as well as restorying our own Indigenous knowledges and practices that that we can demonstrate how these legislations are distorted and how to how do we get back to the ways of relating and upholding our kinship relations. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Wow, I love hearing about that unit's unitard experience and just I got chills listening to it. The next question we have here is which artists or art movements have you been influenced by? 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Okay, I am influenced by Lana Whiskyjack. Lana Whiskyjack is a Nehiyaw multidisciplinary Iskwêw artist and digital storyteller, and she also is a professor in Woman and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta. And one of the the quotes that really inspired me that she has said during one of her presentations, Art is Ceremony is, "Art is a powerful tool to rewrite stories." And so I think of that as as a way of expressing in terms of the restorying practice. I also, I like to think locally, and so Tahina Makokis is a mixed media artist, Cree mixed media artist and also a performance artist. Lauren Crazybull, also a local artist and illustrator. Erin Konsmo, Métis Digital Art and mixed media artist. Christi Belcourt. Quill Christie, an artist and curator. Chief Lady Bird. Digital illustrator Suzanne [unclear]. Amy Malbeuf, Tanya Lukin-Linklater, and then also like poets and storytellers. So Tenille Campbell, Geraldine King, Brittany Johnson. There's just so many people that inspire me on a daily basis. And I think about that when I started writing the list. It's just like it's a never ending list of of so many people who are entering into spaces and restorying and sharing their art and at times a very vulnerable way in terms of the public space that we do now share our art through social media. And so I, I really learn from these folks. And there's just so many more people. Also performers on the list, the burlesque group and Vancouver, Virago Nation, and all the brilliant burlesque performers that are part of that collective. Mother Girth, and then the local burlesque performers, [Sure Modesty, Audradacity, and Fannie Lou Fine]. I like also the beaders like White Otter Design, JShine Designs, Blue Hummingbird, Alaina Lexi. Just, yeah, there's so many people who influence and inspire me on an every day. As well as the collective out here, there's an Ociciwan art collective that is very inspiring as well. So just, there's, I haven't been formally trained in art, but just through relations and, you know, being able to connect over social media that I've just been able to connect with so many different modalities of art and expressions of art. So that's those are kind of the the network of relations that are kind of, in my at the top of mind right now. 
 
And because I'm, most of my my entrance into this into these worlds is through the university and the academy and so a lot of those facilitators are also professors. So like I mentioned, Lana Whiskyjack, but also Dr. Tracy Bear, her dissertation also looked at gender, sexuality and art in reclaiming our bodies and reclaiming our stories. And Dr. Tracy Bear teaches an Indigenous Art. Of course, as well as Indigenous erotica, so she has been central to nurturing both my art practice, my performance art, as well as my my research practice. So she also was engaged with Act Two of Unitard and so I don't know if we have time to kind of just briefly kind of touch on that? 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Okay, for sure. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: So a couple of years after the original piece, I worked with Dr. Tracy Bear when she was teaching her Indigenous erotica course and she had developed an exercize to discuss like uncomfortable words relating to sexuality and gender. And so the students combined words from the Indian Act with these uncomfortable words and made a list of Indigenous erotic words to create this poetry. And so when she learned about the Indian Act Unitard, we discussed how we could integrate it with the course and talk about how we can reclaim body sovereignty from the oppressive structures of the Indian Act legislation. And so we discussed before on how to create a safer space in the classroom, not only for the students, but for myself. And so we ended up discussing boundaries and consent. And then with my consent and with the students that wanted to participate, we wrote their poetry onto the unitard while I was wearing it. And so it was like a it was a very intense act of trust, but also the way that Tracy makes space in her classroom that we were able to, you know, to kind of create that intimacy of like, okay, we're we're bodies we're people and this is how we can relate, start re-relating through like both like learning in the classroom, but also performance art. And so that was the second set of that unitard is then engaging with more people. And we're talking about uncomfortable when discussing these words that cause discomfort. But then how do we create that intimacy? Where we integrating some humour in humour into it, too? And so I think that was the next step of integrating more people to understand how policy shapes bodies. But then how can we use humour and erotica to to reclaim some of that? 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Wow, that's such a really amazing second instalment of that, and I couldn't imagine the experience of the room and having that trust.
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Definitely. And it's a practice like, you know, some days, especially during the pandemic, you can get into a very isolated space. And so it is it is a daily practice and and it's a practice that I'm constantly working on. Asking for help, asking for closeness. And, you know, it's not it's not perfect all the time, but it's something that it is it is a work in practice for me for sure. Like, I still haven't figured it out, but I know that's something that I, I want to work towards and to to not only create a safer space for folks to be vulnerable, but for to ask for that space so that I can be vulnerable. And that's that's the path that I'm on right now. Yeah. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: And so it's such a difficult thing to ask for help and to ask for that closeness. And and it's nice to hear you speaking about these things,The next section we have here is a little bit about childhood reflections, if that's okay with you. And the first question is one of my favourites here, but it says, how does the land and the water where you are from influence your work? 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: I like that question, too, that's one of my favourites, I think of it as intersecting between seasons, location and the relationality between that and so. Part of this is like an observation and a practice and connecting the stark scapes in the landscape. And so I've been trying to do a more daily practice of stargazing and connecting that to how the seasons and the landscapes are changing. And so during winter, I connect most to Orion or who I'm coming to know as Wesakechak, or the Transformer, the Winter Bringer or Misapayo. And so these are names of the Orion Constellation that I've learnt from Alex Wilson and Wilfred Buck, both members of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. And then thinking about how those constellations interact in the land, in the starscape. And so when you think of Orion, you see the three most recognizable stars with the belt and then the belt points to Elder Brown. I'm not too sure of the Cree word for Aldebaran, but Aldebaran kind of is an [earthly? sparkly?] red star. And then Aldebaran then points to the Pleiades. And this is what Wilfred Buck describes as, the Hole in the Sky. And then with this directional orientation, Sirius the dog star follows Wesakechak over the horizon. And so there's a line from Sirius to the belt, to Aldebaran and to the Pleiades. And then I was lucky enough to grow up in a rural area so there wasn't a lot of urban light pollution. And so sometimes you can see the glow of the Milky Way. And this is what Wilford Buck describes as the River of Spirits. And so thinking of that reflection on the landscape, then I think about the North Saskatchewan River, which is also very important to me, or what I'm learning to practice my Cree is [unclear]. And so just thinking about the sky and the land and the waters as orientation to my place through the seasons of space-time. And so the North Saskatchewan flows past my place in Edmonton. But then as I go back and forth between home and the river moves through through these hills. And so what I've learned through from my Uncle Richard is that itself is the river, is north of the river, and then the hills where I'm from are called. So moose hills. So bear hills, beaver hills. And then moose hills is kind of this these hills that have been carved from glaciers from so many times below, before. And I just think of that connection of how the river connects, connects these hills. And I'm thinking about that it's not just the river, but gravel roads and asphalt and that there are many paths between home and the places that I care for people and do my livelihood. And so thinking about that, these are the landscapes that inform me. And thinking about how these stories are are embedded in the Prairies and which ones have become fragmented and which are the ones that we can start putting the pieces back together. And I often say that I process information in a glacial-like way, or composting, like when I compost information that it can become fertile again as soil to, for creation, for transformation. But then also with climate change, like the glaciers are melting at an exponential rate and with corporate agriculture, we're losing the topsoil. So I'm in this kind of bind where, okay, we need to slow down. But then because of capitalism like these, our relations are are being eroded like our non, more than human relations so there is an urgency to become more slow again. And so that's that's how this this landscape where I grew up and informs the way that I think about my responsibilities to my kinship relations. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: What beautiful thoughts on the land in the water. I often believe that the fire is such a place of of home and comfort. And and I worked around the fire for many years of my life. And I always would tell folks, if I can make a fire there that I'm home, I'll bring it anywhere and I'll try to bring that essence of home with me within the fire. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist : I’m not too sure in your in your language, but learning from one of my Knowledge Keepers [unclear] Ghost Keeper, he says the root word for woman and fire are the same. And so that is like a translation of what like woman and fire are in the English language. But it's interesting to think of that, those those relations on however folks identify between those translations. But I think that that is helping me think about it less as an identity, but more as a relation in practice. And so that's I think when I think about coming back to some of the stories and some of the languages that have helped me understand, I guess, gender identity and sexual orientation in a different way. Whereas in my early years, I just I felt that I'd never really fit in, but I never really questioned that either coming from a rural area. I think there wasn't a lot of access to thinking beyond like the binary or thinking beyond different ways of expression. It was just it a small town. And then I wasn't even living in town. I was kind of living in on a farm rural area and so I identified more with the landscape. We also raised bison for about 10 years, and so that was also very central to to thinking about like very powerful beings. But I did take a lot for granted as a as a young person. I think I really wanted to fit in. I wanted I wanted to belong. I wanted to I guess I wanted to be cool. I wasn't very cool. So so I think I think when I look back and as you have been weaving throughout these stories, is that how then do I create the space so that you can be who they want to be or how they want to experiment? I think performing arts and theatre and digital art is central to creativity and gender identity and sexuality. And so were I had taken for granted or because I felt such a longing to fit in with my peers, again, like I wasn't really questioning or kind of thinking of the ways of different relating. But I'm not like, that's a different generation from a lot of the youth that I'm just so inspired from working with them now that there's just the openness for exploration of different expressions. I'm like, I, I, I wish that that was there when I was a youth. But I think like we can we can also time travel. Right. So thinking about how do I integrate that into my practice now. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: So you definitely spoke great medicine around this question, but I just wanted to ask if you want to add anything more. But this is, how did your gender identity or sexual orientation influence your early years and how has that influenced your work? 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Yeah, again, like with the I I think it's hard to it's sometimes hard to look back with the knowledge that you have now and and obviously as a cis woman or socialized as a girl in the rural areas, like that had shaped me in terms of, you know, primarily caregiving and and so, like, I'm also the oldest on both extended families. And so thinking about that a lot of my my shaping and my socializing was in a very caregiving role. And so I think that by integrating that type of care or learning about caring can come into the artwork and can come into relating. But then it also like the ways in which we understand boundaries. And so, like, because I, I have been so porous with caring for people, I realized, especially during the pandemic, is like how do we care for people but then also care for ourselves and set those boundaries. And so that's something that I've been working on, is that how do I what what is it mean? And then how does that relate to others that I care for? And and so it's, I want to move past like identity and like become in relation. And so that's something that I'm still figuring out just because I had been caring for people from such an early age that I'm trying to reclaim, I guess, like, who am I who what is my value system and how can I still be a good relative? But but honour the unique gifts and space that I need to to show up in the best way that I can for my relations and for my community. Because if you're burned out, then that's not going to help anybody. And it's so. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: It's so hard, especially with capitalism and this idea that we have to be productive to be worth to worthy, to be worthy. And so it's and that is very much both gendered and and racially shaped. And so trying to think about the ways that I can start integrating practices, but also, you know, that we're entangled in such a complex web of colonialism and capitalism. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah. And and with that caretaking, when you've done it for so long, it's such a natural thing to do. So even at the beginning steps of creating boundaries, it feels really hard to stick with them or and at least in my experience. There's lots of feelings of guilt and shame that come up because of that that colonial impact that we have, and the capitalism, like you say, and definitely always makes us feel more pressured and forces us to go in this productivity mode. Which is also why I'm so grateful that you were so accommodating and and just easy with with planning this interview. And and that's how we can be better relations by honouring each other's capacity and and checking in with each other's capacity and and knowing when to step closer, when to step back a little bit. And yeah. So I really enjoy this discussion about boundaries and how we can make them a little bit stronger. And when when we're honouring boundaries, we really are showing the little ones that they are allowed to fully explore the things that they need at any point without having to feel bad about it, hopefully. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I also want to again to reiterate my appreciation for you asking for time as well. And I think that's a really important teaching that we can give to young people. Is also that consent of like no, I need my space and it's, it's for me to be a better relation. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: And the next one we can go into is how does the generation you grew up with influence your ideas around? 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Hmm. Again, I think that like the distinction between like being in a rural area and then coming into more of an urban area, and you're exposed to so much more like so many more stories. But it's not that the the art and the stories aren't in the rural areas, but there's just so many different paths that might be crossing and you are just exposed to so many different practices, techniques. And again, because I I'm not formally trained or had had pursued it, pursued it as a livelihood that I'm trying to wrap my head around like how, how, the the I guess the cohorts or the the the communities and the sets of relations had influenced me? And again, I think maybe it's because I'm being caught up on the word art, because if I think back to it that if we're if we talk about storytelling instead, then my goal I was always surrounded by stories and storytelling and encouraged to use my imagination and to to dream like dream. Dreaming is a big part of connecting and influencing my art practice. The most recent digital and media art or visual art or visual storytelling that I'm working through is like a dreamscape. So using kind of a collage style format to then share kind of these dreamscapes that I've had that have really impacted the way that I think about my research, think about being a relation like this, thinking about innovative technologies, if you can say technologies as connecting to dreaming. And so yeah, I guess, yeah. Sometimes I get caught up on the word art and then when I just think about it and get back to my centre, I realize that it is an expression of storytelling. And I think storytelling is connected to observation. It's connected to imagination, it's connected to visiting, it's connected to care and it's connected to, again, like seasons and and locations. And so the that my grandfather and father were are well, my father is a storyteller. My grandfather was a storyteller as well. And I think that when I think about my relations. I think just sitting around the fire and telling stories is a practice about art. And so, yeah, I know that was kind of a jumbled response to that. But sometimes I do get caught up on the word art,. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Though, and I am so grateful for everything that you shared. And I could just listen all day if we could.I do workshops with youth. And often I tell them, you know, when I say art don't let that, have your mind closed just around painting or sculpting or drawing. Like I remind them that art is dancing and singing. It's sports, it's discussing, it's sharing, it's sitting, it's visiting. It's it's anything that you want it to be as long as that fire is flowing within me. Right. And it's getting you excited a little bit. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Mhmm, oh, that's great that you create that space for them to explore so many different modalities. And the the really the body is the medium for art and storytelling, that art is very much an embodied practice. And I've been thinking about even connecting that that sense that when you said art is storytelling and dance and singing that, that... Like everybody that was an artist in our communities and like that cultural transmission of knowledge and innovating and responding to the the ever changing environment. And I think of Gregory Cajete his Rights on Indigenous Science, or the book Native Science. And he talked about that that art was, you know, the ceremonies, the dances, the storytelling, the singing, the creating, the baskets. And so that that was an embodied practice and maybe it wasn't considered like art as what is defined by mainstream art. But it is very much part of like community connection, cultural transmission. And again, like I said, this idea of responding to the ever changing environments I think of Blackfoot Elder Leroy Little Bear talks about flux. We're it's always we're always in a constant change of flux and I think through through these practices and by being in kinship that the that the colonial myth of of that our culture was static and that it was that this erasure that is happening and then the appropriation of culture, doesn't take into consideration that these practices were always evolving and responding, responding to both internal, like the dreamscapes of receiving, receiving those messages from ancestors or even the future descendants, but also external in terms of how the landscape was changing both socially and environmentally. So I think that when we think of our practice, it was it was just embedded, so. So much into the everyday practices of community that it would be interesting to see how does that how can we move that back into everyday practice and in our communities? Now. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: What aspects of your Indigenous identity influences your practices the most, would you say? 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: I think, again, like kinship or in the with the Cree word or the Cree language […], so thinking of being in relation and the responsibilities with being in community and connecting back to community. And so, as I had mentioned, like that practice of beading the moccasins for my grandmother as that aesthetically one could say, oh, this is a Cree Métis style of beating and that it's like another style moccasin. But then it's like, how do we put that into relating so that there's both, like the aesthetics of of of the uniqueness and distinctiveness of Indigenous sovereignties or whether that's Michif or Cree or Mohawk or anishinaabe then those the distinctiveness of the sovereignties, and that's [unclear] to inform the way that stories are told visually through movement. And so thinking about that distinction, but also like coming home as a way through a centring practice with the body and connecting that with land sovereignty. And so thinking about that, that art practices have to relate to Indigenous sovereignties. And I think about the frequently referenced and for good reason Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang, decolonization is not a metaphor. So thinking about how how do I maintain these kinship responsibilities by how do my practices as well as my research, how is this contributing to the restoration of Indigenous lives, lands, livelihoods and languages, and then also further pushing that, how do those commitments to Indigenous sovereignty also uphold Black liberation and other solidarities with people of colour? Addressing how the racism throughout this pandemic is, how do I, how do these practices and how do my storytelling, you know, start creating those spaces where I can contribute more of a voice? And that's something that I've really been working on, is like how to enter the public space by being grounded in kinship and sovereignty. But then how do I, how can I be a good relative to other communities as well? 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Mm hmm. Yeah, very important things to think about. What cultural teachings around gender do you feel comfortable sharing, if at all, and how do you relate them to your practice? 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Well, I guess I already mentioned, like, the the language part of it, so like learning about iskwêw and isotew [sp?] like woman and fire, but also thinking about... I learn a lot from Alex Wilson, as ,I who I mentioned before, from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, and so like the work that she's doing around queering land based education. And so she talks about how we can challenge ourselves to learn the stories, languages and traditions that connect cosmology and queerness, but then also do not reinforce hetero patriarchy, heteronormativity and gender supremacy. And so this is where it's connected to, she says Wesakechak [sp?] is energy, is not male or female. And so thinking about like when I am like stargazing and I see Orion, who is also, as I had mentioned, known as Wesakechak, is that how does that influence the way that I tell stories and the responsibilities to think about gender and sexual identities outside of binaries and normativities and how to think of these stories as sets of social relations and on a continuum. And so this when she talks about Wesakechak is energy. That's from this chapter called Queering Indigenous Education. And so those are some of the the teachings that I think about in terms of thinking about gender and sexuality as more fluid. It's also connected to another Knowledge Keeper from Saskatchewan, Joseph Naytowhow and he talks about this idea of subtle energy and thinking, identifying it with, he was also trained through Buddhism. And so he connects this idea of this energy as similar to kind of the Chakra system. And so I know the there's like seven energy centres in the body through the Chakra system and thinking about how how do we use this energy in relation to kind of these interconnections. And that can be through a dream or waking state. And so he he also has a chapter called Subtle Energy As Seen Through the Eyes of a Nehiyaw Person. And I can give you the links to these, and so afterwards, if you need me to have these links for the transcript, I can I can send those on. But I think about yeah, I don't know if we want to give pause and then before I kind of connect it to to what I'm exploring right now. 
 
So then, so just thinking about this idea of fluidity through energy is connected then back to this idea of a centering practice. And so I am learning through, you know, in connection to performance art. And I'm being trained also as a body worker, as a registered massage therapist. And so I've been thinking about how to centre to do a more frequent centring practice. And then so this is has been informed by Black feminist, doula and organizer, activist Adrienne Maree Brown. And so thinking about a centering practice, but integrating the language into it and Indigenous world views. And so when you're finding your centre, you visualize like two inches below your belly button and so imagining and holding yourself there. And so then that's kind of connecting back to what Joseph was talking about, the Chakras and this is the sacral chakra, so the sacral chakra is both kind of like expressions of sexuality, but also expressions of creativity. So like this energy centre, where we're encouraged in centering practices is to to focus on is this kind of seat of of sexuality and creativity and the expression of that. And then there are, part of the practice is from your centre, then lengthening, and this is to imagine yourself being connected deep into the Earth, so [Language] is the Cree word for earth and then reaching to the stars. And so by connecting your centre down to the earth, but also knowing that you're reaching up to the stars, the actual fact allows us to know that we are worthy, that we have respect and so we can respect others and then you get to them from the centre to expand outwards. And so this is kind of understanding that we're all fractals and so that there's microcosms, a macrocosms that we're unfurling from this embryonic state on both sides. So this is connected to our belonging to a community that we're part of something larger than ourselves. And then from the centre, again, there's depth. And so that's both in front of you and behind you. And so that's connecting to our ancestors as well as connecting to future descendants and then really tapping into the non-linearity of time that we can call, like as we did at the beginning of this conversation, is that we can call on these beings, even though they're not in the material realm, that we can call these these beings in to help us come back to to our centre and to connect so again, that we can be a better relative. And so I see this similarly, like this practice of centering as those Seven Directions and then also learning about [Language], which I've learnt from Jessica [unclear], who I mentioned previously in this conversation, and Chantelle Fiola and Margaret Colebatch is like […] is finding or going to the centre of yourself to find your own belonging and thinking about how that disembodied practice is is part of finding yourself, but also part of finding how you belong to to your web of relations. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: I'm kind of speechless.
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Well, thanks for asking the questions to this. I think the time that it took to finally come into the space, I think a lot of medicinal seeds were planted. And so, you know, I think a lot of this relating over space and time was happening in different dimensions. And so just thinking about giving that time and space, I think that's also important. So thank you. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah. Yeah. And that reminds me of when you mentioned that we can call on those beings at any time and always thinking about that brings me so much comfort. What do you feel comfortable sharing about how art scenes can better support Two Spirit, trans, non binary and women Indigenous artists? 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: I haven't really been involved with either mainstream art scenes. I'm just coming into like Indigenous art scenes and a lot of that have been has been through like the virtual talks through the pandemic. And so when I think of, I'm not sure if I can speak to art scenes, but I think in terms of when working with youth and art, I think about that there needs to be like a resource redistribution. So thinking about like the cost of supplies, the cost of space, even training. So thinking about programs that folks that may not have access to like training programs or supplies, then I think non-Indigenous artists can use some of their, if they do have those spaces to distribute redistribute resources. I think that's one of the first things that can can create more access and opportunities for folks who may not have that space or have access to supplies and training. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: What has been useful for you as a Indigenous woman in terms of solidarity and support from other Indigenous artists or storytellers or colleagues that you are inspired by? 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: I guess like just thinking, because I had never thought of myself as an artist. Thinking like, oh, this this could be an option for sharing, but then. Yeah, I guess like like going back to the example with Tracy, like just providing that support to to kind of like explore different modalities and then with Tipi Confessions. That, like there's the space to to work with other Indigenous performers. Sorry, did you say non-Indigenous artists or artists and Indigenous artists? 
 
Ceilidh Isadore:] Yeah, this time I said Indigenous artists, but you can totally touch on whatever. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Okay, yeah. So like working just learning from this mentorship, from working with Indigenous artists and learning more about like from like the art scene of the processes and the grant writing and all the other labour that goes into it. And then thinking about me where I have I'm more in the position within the University and the Academy. So then it's also reflective of like what can how can I use that space to then access, like, whether it's research funding, to then use my place of privilege and redistribute it back into what is more of the Indigenous Arts scene or other spaces like, you know, grassroots Youth Arts organizations. And so thinking that as much as I'm receiving mentorship and inspiration from Indigenous artists, I also have a responsibility of redistributing back to folks that may not have access to, I guess, funding, you know, of publicity. I'm thinking of Tipi Confessions more specifically of of creating space for maybe first time young performers and trying to work with them to the best of our ability to create a space where they can express themselves maybe for the first time in front of a live audience. And so thinking about that, it's not just, you know, me receiving on this end that I have to work to understand the complexities and the labour that is involved in in making art, especially in Indigenous spaces. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, yeah, and that that reciprocity is such a beautiful cycle of being able to provide the space for those young performers, and I like how you mention that often times it could be their first time to get an opportunity like that. And and it's always nice to explore the ways in which we can make sure that they have the space, but also the encouragement and the acknowledgement and also the the like. Long the. Long lasting relationship of support, right? So when we're supporting youth, I really like to to think about how I could do it in a way that's not just like a one day thing or a one week thing.
 
Kirsten Lindquist: They're just as much as leaders as I am, I am I'm always I'm always learning and continuous learning path. So, yeah, I I'm just fortunate enough to to to learn in these spaces. And yeah, again, I think back to like the slow process, if there's such an urgency to provide this space and care for folks that do not have access to it. But it's also important to to go in with it with intention. And so like I had mentioned earlier, that's a tension that I sit with, is like both with the urgency and the importance of of slowness. And and that's that's something I'm sitting with. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: How do you offer support and solidarity to artists whose lived experiences are distinct from your own?
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Mm hmm. For sure. I, I think of the ways that I can do that through, like being a co-producer of Tipi Confessions and so trying to work to centre and support the stories of two Two Spirit, trans queer, Black folks, and people, people of colour that I may not have, like you said, have those lived experiences. But how do how can through my position as coproducer and working as a stage manager and curator, like how can I make space but also reach out to to make sure that these stories are included. And that's something that I'm you know, it's I'm working towards integrating that in a more holistic way through Tipi Confessions. But like we have worked with one of our shows with the Toronto Queer Film Festival. And so creating those partnerships to extend and strengthen those networks and so that that is something that I think in the future, as we expand and keep in touch with past performers, is just like really creating that sense of community of like, okay, who whose stories are not being heard. And how may a space like Tipi Confessions offer or create that space and also create the resources and access to networks that if this is a space that a performer or an artist or storyteller wants to to express their story, and this is a setting that they see that fits well with with what they want to do, then then I think that that is one aspect of of providing that space. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, absolutely.
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Yeah, yeah, and I think there is room for for growth for Tipi Confessions, and so they maybe this looks like like an advisory committee and and then that influences the governance and the decision making of how we do productions. And so I'm imagining that also not only as performers or storytellers, that then we can create like a governance structure for for this production that is led by Two Spirit, trans, non binary, Indigenous women. To to provide that direction of of how can we take the next step and and again, how do we expand the network and and take care of our relations through this space in the best way that we know how. But that means listening to other experiences and other stories and that that informs making decisions in a good way. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, yeah. Listening, providing space, stepping back when needed and then stepping forward when when it's time. Very, very good reminders. How do you use your art to address social and cultural issues? So I don't know if there is any specific issues that you wanted to mention, but if anything comes to mind, yeah, that'd be awesome. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Sure, and I think back to the Indian Act Unitard, I try to like, through the process of restorying and and expressions, is that how can I do a commentary on colonial or capitalist policy? And so I guess I can bring up an example. The third act of the Indian Act Unitard, it was during an Indigenous feminist workshop. And so I was wearing the the Indian Act Unitard, and it was the the version with the Indigenous erotica poems on it. And so what the, there were participants that were asked if they wanted to, the audience was asked if they wanted to participate. And so I had a bowl of dirt and from bean seeds and scissors, and then I, I asked what the participant needed in that moment. And so usually it was a hug and then they cut off a piece of the Indian Act and then they threw it in the garbage. And then we planted a seed together. And we did this until I was no longer wearing the Indian Act. I was just wearing moss pasties and panties. And then a portion of the participants took home their bean seeds together and they they grew it. And I received photos afterwards of like the beans. And I think about that, like, I can never really say how my art addresses the issues in that moment. But I think this was an example of that. You know, sometimes when we do plant those seeds, like metaphorically and literally with the bean seed that, you know, it's it's a personal it's a personal experience for whether it's a viewer or a participant to to then integrate that into their own story and how they approach and and work within their relations. And so I use that example of, you know, I try my best to tell the story or to restory and to address, you know, how can we dismantle these hierarchies. And a portion of that would be to, you know, making these relations and encouraging people to tell their story as the way that I'm telling my story. And so that's kind of, I guess, like a full circle of, like, planting the seeds. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, absolutely.
 
Kirsten Lindquist: It was it was again, I was very much supported by the Indigenous Women's collective and Professor [unclear], and so I am very fortunate to have the support system. And that just reminds me that I want to reciprocate and create spaces for people to be able to to express themselves in the ways that I have been able to express myself. And I think of it also as like these, like the art or the the performance art or the theatre or the spaces in which we create. I was like a container holding like multiple solutions or innovations for for social or cultural issues. And so, for example, like even if we step back from that initial experience of Act Three, then we can start creating stories or connecting to issues such as then, you know, planting seeds is like how how does food sovereignty important to our communities? And then dismantling the Indian Act is like how do we how do we acknowledge the grassroots organizations that are are working with Mutual Aid to care for folks that are are intentionally marginalized and left through the cracks because of these systems that replaced our kinship systems intentionally, are leaving these folks out? And so it starts you can start, you know, building like this foundation of all these concepts and issues and discussions from just like a performance is not just a performance, but it's like, again, using the metaphor metaphor as a seed, as a seed to start multiple discussions. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah. And it always continues. And it's like the movement we mentioned, it's always going to continue to flow and continue to impact and grow in so many areas. Is there anything else that you'd like to add as we wrap up? And maybe you could also plug in any any social media or like any contact information? Only if you wanted to. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Yeah, I just again, I want to extend my gratitude to you and commend you on being able to go back and forth. You have a very special gift of quickly summarizing and responding in a good way. So I just want to say that that is it is a gift for people and I'm learning how to do it. So this is a good teaching moment for me on how to to hold stories and to then respond to that. And I'm looking forward to learning more about your artwork and and supporting you moving forward. And I'm, I have been a bit of a hermit in my social media accounts. They haven't been very active. But I'm I'm trying to again, as part of my responsibilities is how can I show up in more public spaces to to tell to tell stories and to to also share space and to share other people's stories through. I mean, I don't have a lot of followers, but I think the followers that I do have, you know, it would be great to share more of the work and the stories that we have have discussed today. And so my Instagram is @lindkirs and that's the same for Twitter. But again, they haven't been very active. I've been in a very incubator mode. And so I think that's both. You know, it's interesting how I said that's the same for creativity and sexuality with the sacral chakra. So I have definitely been in like a couple of years like incubation. But I think, you know, by relating with folks such as yourself, it's given me like an unfurling of the seed, so to speak. So a lot of a lot of food for thought. And I'm excited for where I can take this with the support of this network of artists and creators and transformers. 
 
Ceilidh Isadore: Yeah, and it's. It's a beautiful community of creators and storytellers, and it's such an amazing opportunity to be involved with this project, with so many folks like yourself, that I'm really excited to see how we continue to work together and how we continue to bring our voices out. And and I understand that that balance is hard to find with social media. I went through the same problems of wanting to show up to inspire folks and make sure that they have representation and also understanding where when we need slowness and when we need a voice.
 
Kirsten Lindquist: But for the folks want to learn more about Tipi Confessions, they can visit tipiconfessions.com and visit our Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. If you just search Tipi Confessions through those social media channels, then you can learn a little bit about the work that we do. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Amazing! Well, Kirsten, thank you so much for everything, and yeah, it's been such a pleasure. I'm so happy that we have this connection now and like you mentioned earlier, I'm really excited to continue to support you and see what you're doing. And and I'll say, see you later. and Nmultes in Mi'kmaq. We'll talk soon. 
 
Kirsten Lindquist: Okay, thank you. [Language]