COSMOSQUAW: A Reply in Three Parts

“When Lori broke the scene to tell a story of her love of Vicks, it cemented her performance in my own family stories. I don’t know if this is a Prairies NDN thing, but I grew up with my kokum wiping Vicks on everything; it was her cure all.”

— Samantha Nock

“The pressure on Indigenous people is real to be better, smarter, and more put together so as to not fit into anyone’s preconceived boxes, so as to not sit in the depths of stereotype and racist assumptions. Lori makes brave decisions to resist this burden, to let COSMOSQUAW be her true damn self and not worry about how that looks or what people might think. COSMOSQUAW gets to drink wine, and smoke, she sings loud. This is no small resistance. To make something for you, for your people, and not concern yourself with the baggage attached to our bodies, is medicine.”

— Salia Joseph

Announcing the launch of A Reply in Three Parts by Samantha Nock and Salia Joseph in response to Past is Prologue: 20 Years of COSMOSQUAW as part of Recollective: Vancouver Independent Archives Week hosted at Western Front in November 2018.

Samantha and Salia’s response takes the form of a personal email exchange, reflecting on the work of Cree, Saulteaux and Métis artist Lori Blondeau, housed in the Western Front archives. Samantha also includes a new poem called Vicks which celebrates Indigenous mothers, kokums, and aunties in her life as a gesture to subvert the burden of representation Indigenous women bear.

Responses and documentation of the event are available on archivesweek.ca.

Artist Biographies

Salia Joseph is from the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Snuneymuxw First Nations on her father’s side and is British and Jewish on her mother’s. In 2016 she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in First Nations and Indigenous studies from the University of British Columbia. She recently graduated from a yearlong full time immersion program in her language, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim at Simon Fraser University. Salia sings in a band called An̓usáyum̓ (Two Berries) as well as a traditional Sḵwx̱wú7mesh dance/singing group called Ta Na Wa Káwstem. Salia works for Kwi Awt Stelmexw, a Sḵwx̱wú7mes language and culture non-profit. In addition to this she has recently completed a curatorial internship at the Bill Reid Art Gallery. Salia is also committed to her continued learning journey of Salish wool weaving.

Samantha Nock is a Cree-Métis writer and poet from Treaty 8 territory in Northeast BC. Her family originally comes from Ile-a-la-Crosse (Sakitawak), Saskatchewan. She has been published in GUTS Magazine, Shameless Magazine, SAD Mag, Canadian Art, and others. Samantha co-organizes a bi-monthly community readings series called Poetry is Bad For You, and hosts Heavy Content, a podcast exploring representations of fat people in the media. She cares about radical decolonial love, coffee, corgis, and her two cats, Betty and Jughead.

Lori Blondeau is a Cree, Saulteaux and Metis visual and performance artist from Saskatchewan who is a member of the Gordon First Nation in Treaty 4. She holds an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan, and is currently based in Winnipeg where she teaches at the University of Manitoba’s School of Art. She has sat on the Advisory Panel for Visual Arts for the Canada Council for the Arts and is a co-founder and the current director of TRIBE, a Canadian Aboriginal arts organization.

Lori Blondeau in the Western Front archives:

COSMOSQUAW

Postcards from the Feminist Utopia

Putting the WILD back into the west: starring Belle Sauvage & Buffalo Boy

About Recollective

Recollective: Vancouver Independent Archives Week is a series of free public events that highlight artist-run centre archives, artists working with archives, and the intersections between contemporary art practices and social movements in Vancouver. Recollective commissions original response works to our programming from a variety of Vancouver artists, writers, and activists.  Recollective 2018 took place from November 2 – 13, 2018. In its 2019/2020 programming season, Recollective will look beyond Vancouver to host a series of national and international presenters and respondents to examine these issues in a range of global contexts.