Native musicians performed Friday and Saturday at an art gallery in Toronto to raise funds for a native health service that runs injury-reducing efforts at the center.
A pop-up art exhibition exploring what self-care means to indigenous peoples served as the backdrop for the free performances. The exhibition, Locating Self Care in Urban Centers, runs until December 31 at the Collision Gallery, 18 Wellington St. W.
The two afternoon concerts featured Native musicians from North and South America. AM / PM Productions produced the concert series with ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art, 2021-2022, a year-long celebration of public art in Toronto.
Lacey Hill, a singer, songwriter and lecturer and Oneida from Six Nations of the Grand River, Wolf Clan, said the concert series gave her a chance to sing in an open concept room. She described herself as a native soul singer and said it was a “beautiful thing” to perform. Hill performed Saturday.
“This is my community here in Toronto. My friends are here. It’s always nice to get back together after the pandemic and just be around each other,” Hill said.
Hill said the performance enabled her to express the idea of self-care through her music. She defines self-care as “listening to your spirit” as well as knowing one’s limits and boundaries and how much one can give. Self-care is also being able to say no, she said.
“These songs came to me because I went through traumatic things and beautiful things and terrible things and amazing things. These experiences I can put into song form and share these stories with you,” she said.
“It’s healing in myself, and hopefully when I heal, you heal too, because I share a little bit about myself and open up to you. And sometimes it’s really intimate and really scary and emotional. But I do, because it’s part of who I am. I know that about myself. ”
Hill said indigenous peoples should always fight for fundamental rights in Toronto and Canada.
“We are constantly in a fight. Land Back. We are constantly fighting for things that are supposed to be in our possession or at least in our custody anyway.”
LYT | Native musician Lacey Hill sings Love is Love:
Emily Granville, a music curator at AM / PM Productions, said on Saturday that the two afternoon concerts gave original musicians a safe place to perform.
“It opens up a lot of different opportunities for indigenous artists in general just to have a chance to play in a completely native environment,” she said.
Granville said the indigenous community produces different kinds of music, and it is important to understand that it has a wide range. It’s not just pow wow music and drumming, she added.
“I feel like we sometimes think of native music and put it in one category, which I don’t think is always the case,” she said.
“There are always different kinds of media for each indigenous artist, and it’s important to see it within the indigenous community. I feel like a lot of people generalize to indigenous music, but I feel like it can not really be generalized.”
Donations were accepted at the concert, and all donations went to the Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction, a health service that focuses on helping people living in camps, those struggling with drug use, and people who have barriers to accessing social services. .
Other original musicians scheduled to perform were Ruben “Beny” Esguerra (AKA New Tradition) on Saturday and Evan Redsky and Quique Escamilla on Friday.
Emma Steen, curator of the exhibition, Locating Self Care in Urban Centers, said the idea for the exhibition was born out of the lack of resources that indigenous peoples face in downtown Toronto. In 2020, the city issued a call to Toronto curators to work out a concept for city life for the exhibition, and she came up with self-care.
Steen said she defines self-care not just as “this junk need,” but as “a resilient act” involving care for the larger community.
“Whether you’re on the Scarborough Bluffs or you’re at King and Bay, you’re on native land, period,” she said. “Indigenous people are here. And wherever you go, there are elements of indigenous life and a flourishing culture that, as many colonial settlers have tried to remove, still exist here.”
LYT | Original musician Beny Esguerra and New Tradition Music perform with Take Care:
In a press release, the city said: “Locating self-care in urban centers focuses on the presence of indigenous peoples in cities and provides space for self-care as a radical act. The exhibition continues the conversation started by blacks and original curators and authors about care as a method of resistance and sovereignty.
“The work of Laura Grier and Susan Blight considers self-care as manifested through body, land and community, extending into the gallery itself as a place of respite in the center of the center, a space often unwelcome to native presentations.”
The city said the concert series continued the ideas presented in the exhibition by “providing a welcoming space for all, in the heart of the city.”
AM // PM Productions is an organization that prioritizes Indigenous, People of Color, non-binary and female main art and music projects in Toronto and Mississauga.