Gaawiin Ogiibagidenaawaasiiwaawan / They Did Not Let It Go
September 12 to December 25, 2020
Guest Co-curators: Summer Bressette and Monica Virtue
This exhibition marks the 25th anniversary of the Ipperwash Crisis, which culminated in the death of Indigenous land defender Anthony “Dudley” George.
Gaawiin Ogiibagidenaawaasiiwaawan, which roughly translates from Anishinaabemowin to “they did not let it go,” brings together artwork by Anishinaabe artist Robert Houle, maps, wampum, interview testimony, and photography to frame the events at Ipperwash within a long history of colonial coercion, government inaction, and Indigenous resistance.
Anishinaabeg have lived for generations along the shore of Gichi-aazhoogami-gichigaming, Lake Huron. In May 1993, land defenders peacefully occupied a part of Camp Ipperwash, a military training base on Anishinaabeg territory that had been appropriated by the federal government during the Second World War. The land defenders were the descendants of the families who were forcibly removed from the area in 1942.
The protest continued into the summer of 1995 amid sustained government inaction. By the fall, Indigenous land defenders had established the former 109-acre Ipperwash Provincial Park as the base of their protest. On September 6, Dudley George was shot by Ontario Provincial Police at the site where his great grandparents had made their home. He was unarmed, and died before reaching the hospital.
Gaawiin Ogiibaagininaawaasiin / They Did Not Let It Go installation photograph featuring Robert Houle, Ipperwash, 2000-2001 .
Oil on canvas, digitized photograph mounted on Masonite, anodized aluminium, Robert Houle.
Collection of Museum London; Purchased in part with financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Volunteer Committee and through a gift of the artist, 2006.
© Toni Hafkenscheid
A provincial inquiry concluded a decade later, and in 2007 the province began the process of transferring Ipperwash Provincial Park back to the Anishinaabeg of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. Co-curated by Summer Bressette and Monica Virtue, Gaawiin Ogiibagidenaawaasiiwaawan highlights the notable resistance and consistent lack of consent on behalf of the Anishinaabeg to surrender their homeland, their bodies, and their images to colonial power.
Image: Robert Houle, Ipperwash, 2000-2001. Oil on canvas, digitized photograph on masonite, anodized aluminum. Collection of Museum London; Purchased in part with financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Volunteer Committee and through a gift of the artist, 2006.
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Status: Closed on December 25, 2020 due to COVID-19; Currently being re-designed for the Lambton Heritage Museum as Nnigiiwemin / We Are Going Home, running from June 11 to September 25, 2021.