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July 1, 2020–September 15, 2021
Harbourfront Centre Main Building
235 Queens Quay West, East Façade
“THE ONLY TONGUE IN VOGUE”1 is a quote pulled from history that helps us to envision a future where Indigenous languages are once again “in vogue” on Indigenous land.
This casual observance is from an explorer’s 1810 journey through the trade routes of what are now the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, where nēhiyawēwin (the Plains Cree language) was one of the predominantly spoken languages of the time. White explorers and traders would have had to hire translators or have a basic understanding of the language in order to communicate, trade and survive.
These words encapsulate what conversations would have sounded like before English and French became pervasive on these lands. While the historical context of colonialism was thoroughly underway when the quote was written, under an Indigenous lens the words provide a glimpse into a different time and become a beacon for a possible future.
Learn more about our Visual Artist-in-Residence, Joi T. Arcand.
1 Alexander Henry qtd. in Fromhold, Joachim. The Western Cree – (Pakisimotan Wi Iniwak) Louis Joseph Piche (Chief Pesew) The Founding of a Dynasty. First Nations Publishing, 2016.