Bring Down The Walls: Justice!

Free admission
Date and time
Saturday, March 7, 2020 from 1 PM to 6 PM

As part of the Phil Collins exhibition, the Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art presents four events within the framework of the installation Bring Down The Walls. The public is invited to take part in "school day" informative sessions and workshops on prison abolition, followed by "club nights" organized by Montreal-based and international music collectives.

Our fourth School Day will explore notions of transformative and reparative justice and address the systemic judicialization of aboriginal peoples on Canadian territory. Some of our guests will also share their experiences as participants of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

1 PM – Introduction
1:15 PM – Ryan Beardy
2:30 PM – Cheryl McDonald
3:30 PM – Break
4 PM – Nakuset
5:15 PM – Group Discussion

Club Night
At night, the Phi Foundation will transform into a fully functioning night club, taken over by invited collectives and crews whose activities foster the ethos of social engagement shared by Bring Down The Walls.

About Bring Down The Walls
Organised in May 2018 in New York City by artist Phil Collins, Creative Time, The Fortune Society, and over 100 collaborators, Bring Down The Walls was a three-part public art project which turned an unconventional lens on the prison industrial complex through house music and nightlife.

Originating as a public art project, Bring Down The Walls consisted of a communal space that functioned as an open school by day and dance club by night, as well as a benefit album of classic house tracks re-recorded by formerly incarcerated vocalists and electronic musicians. For the exhibition at the Phi Foundation, Collins proposes Bring Down The Walls (2019), an installation version of this project reconfigured specifically for the Montréal context and the space at 465 Saint-Jean Street, with corresponding public programming that will build on the discussions and relationships that began in New York.

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Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, is Cree from Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan. She has three beautiful boys: Kistin, Mahkisis, and Mahihkan. She was adopted by a Jewish family in Montreal and draws on her adoptee experience in her advocacy work for Indigenous children in care. Nakuset created, produced, and hosted the television series Indigenous Power, was voted “Woman of the Year 2014” by the Montreal Council of Women, and is the Indigenous columnist for MAtv’s CityLife. Nakuset was featured in Real Talk on Race, the award-winning CBC series. In 2017, she was selected by the CKX City Series Tour as a speaker and “shift disturber” for the work she does to shift the status quo for urban Aboriginal women. In November 2017, she was a speaker for TEDxMontrealWomen. In 2018, Nakuset testified for three days at the Viens Commission, a public inquiry into discrimination against Indigenous people in Quebec, as well as at the June 2018 MMIW Inquiry in Calgary. In February 2019, she presented at WE Day Montreal. She was recently featured in the “End of the 2010s” interview on Global News to discuss her past decade of work with the urban Indigenous community. Nakuset is honoured to have spearheaded and run the Cabot Square project since its inception, and to have co-founded Resilience Montreal. She is dedicated to improving the lives of urban Indigenous people.

Cheryl McDonald
Cheryl McDonald testified at the hearings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), held in Montreal on March 12, 2018. The Kanesatà:ke-Akwesasne Mohawk grandmother testified publicly about the disappearance and death of her sister, Carleen, in 1988 at Akwesasne. Cheryl gave a personal account of the multi-generational trauma encountered throughout her life and of the impacts—spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental—of losing a sister to violence. In writing and speaking about her healing journey, she became a voice for those grieving in silence. During the last three years, Cheryl made herself a Red Dress Regalia and began to dance traditionally to honour her sister and other MMIWG sisters, families, and survivors. After stepping out to dance in traditional Iroquoian dress and style, she participated in many gatherings and healing ceremonies, and found the peace, power, and strength to speak about her personal truth and to share wisdom with others. More than anything, Cheryl wishes to give hope to others and to be a gentle voice to help and support others toward self-empowerment and well-being. “For Indigenous peoples, we must be the change we want to see in the world. To do this, we must forgive ourselves, and change the way we interact with others. Healing is key.”

Ryan Beardy is a community advocate and freelance journalist with significant experience in the criminal justice system. He is a founder of Healing Together, an organization that offers sharing circle meetings to men in the region of Winnipeg, and a board member at the John Howard Society of Manitoba. He currently serves as chair of the Board of Directors of the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association, and works as an outreach worker at Gang Action Interagency Network. Ryan is Cree/Saulteaux from Lake St. Martin First Nation.

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