Julie Richard

 

Music does not exist except in time. It is the sequence of sounds, one note flowing into the next, that turns noise into music. Photography is different. It plucks an image out of time and enlists that frozen moment to represent the life that flows behind and beyond it. These images are music between two notes, the intensity and focus of musicians in the instants within the music, the moment’s pause that captures the whole.

 

Jessica Hana Deutsch

 

Justin Gray

 

Len White

 

Vivian Chong

 

Vezi Tayyeb

 

Julie Richard

 

Text and photographs © Joseph Kary

 

 

 

A local Wixárika man contemplating the mountains surrounding Real de Catorce, 2011 (c) José Luis Aranda

 

Photos by José Luis Aranda with commentary by Claudia Itzkowich

 

The southern part of the Chihuahua desert is home to Wirikuta, the sacred land of the Wixáritari, who carry out ritual pilgrimages from the remote mesetas where they have lived for centuries. Their ceremonies centre on music and dance and offerings involving feathers, arrows, corn, deer blood and peyote, perpetuating the traditions and beliefs of a people that was never subdued by the Spanish Catholic conquerors of current Mexico.

The town of Real de Catorce expands into the foothills of the sierra, 2011 (c) José Luis Aranda

 

In 1988, Wirikuta was included in UNESCO’s list of Natural Protected Areas and Sacred Sites, and 140,211 hectares were declared an ecological, natural and cultural reserve in 2000.

For decades, though, this open-air sanctuary has been invisible to the developers and mining companies that are blind to everything but the silver, lead and zinc that lie below the surface.

Remnants of the Santa Ana Mine provide a backdrop to the inflammatory First Majestic mine from Vancouver, in the community of La Luz, 2011 (c) José Luis Aranda

 

The ruins of the San Agustín Mine mark the entrance and exit to the south of Real de Catorce, 2011 (c) José Luis Aranda

 

The bowels of the mountain in the Ogarrio tunnel, 2011 (c) José Luis Aranda

 

Since 2010, a group of Wixárika activists has mobilized to halt the plans of Vancouver’s First Majestic Silver Corp. to expand into Wirikuta, endangering the water supply of the local population and disregarding the symbolic importance of the place. But the threat is still present, as is the need to listen to the voices opposing it, led by the Consejo Regional Wixárika por la Defensa de Wirikuta.

A Wixárika woman from Nayarit waiting to be received by the mayor of Real de Catorce, 2011 (c) José Luis Aranda

 

Román Castillo Alvarado, Mayor of Real de Catorce, just before a meeting at City Hall, 2011 (c) José Luis Aranda

 

With these images taken in 2011 by Mexican photographer and environmentalist José Luis Aranda at one of the most critical moments of the resistance movement, Montréal Serai joins the effort to stop the senseless exploitation of natural, economic and spiritual resources.

Wirikuta, 2011 (c) José Luis Aranda

 

The Wixárika believe that the Cerro del Quemado mountain range is the birthplace of the sun and of all life; this piece was made of yarn and Campeche wax over a wooden panel, 2011 (c) José Luis Aranda

 

Recommended viewing:

Trailer with subtitles: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/huicholesfilm

Link to actual film ($3.99 rental fee) https://huicholesfilm.com/es/huicholes-film-mx-free/

For more work by José Luis Aranda: www.joseluisaranda.com

 

 

 

Conception, photos, commentary: Tilak Seth, Keya Dasgupta and Subhendu Dasgupta
English text: Nilanjan Dutta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street art by Dolly Deals, whose father was a “60s scoop” kid – one of the thousands of Indigenous children who were taken from their families without their parents’ consent and put up for adoption. The name “Dolly” comes from the title of the artist’s on-going illustrated poetry collection, “Dolly Deals with Death and other Melancholy Milestones.” Source: Unceded Voices 2017, https://decolonizingstreetart.com/

 

Standing in front of Dolly Deals’ mural in St. Henri, all I could think of was the voice of the first man I heard speak at the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Montréal in April 2013.[i] It was the shyness and shame in his voice that struck me full in the chest and had me weeping before I could even sit down. I didn’t sit down. For the next few hours, I stood with my back against the wall, tears streaming down my face, listening to gentle and courageous voices carrying unbearable pain.

Dolly Deals’ mural gives voice to the Indigenous children who never made it home from residential school. Some died there, far from their families, without their parents knowing how or when they died or where they were buried. Some died trying to make their way back home after running away from residential school.

“Hundreds of schools. Hundreds of years. Every place, every student had their own stories. I don’t know that I could summarize that. It’s not so much one big problem. It’s thousands and thousands of individual people’s trauma. There was a system set up where abusing and using and torturing children was easy – was essentially legal. Government did get involved in residential schools in a significant way…. No one really cared except us, obviously, ‘cause we were the ones living with that….” (Source: video interview with Dolly, Unceded Voices 2017, https://decolonizingstreetart.com/)

Street art by Cedar Eve Peters, honouring her ancestors, carrying their stories forward and sharing the healing colours of her dreams – https://decolonizingstreetart.com/cedar-eve-peters/

 

Detail of mural by Cedar Eve Peters, St. Henri, Montréal

 

Detail of mural by Cedar Eve Peters, St. Henri, Montréal

 

Detail of mural by Cedar Eve Peters, St. Henri, Montréal

 

Street art by Shanna Strauss, a Tanzanian-American artist, honouring two courageous activists from Kahnewake, Ellen Gabriel and the late Mary Two-Axe Earley – https://decolonizingstreetart.com/shanna-strauss/

 

Street art by Elizabeth Blancas, an emerging queer Xicana artist, portraying her testament and tribute to women of colour and two-spirit people – https://decolonizingstreetart.com/elizabeth-blancas/

 

Street art by Dayna Danger, an emerging 2-spirit/Queer, Métis/Saulteaux/Polish artist (https://decolonizingstreetart.com/dayna-danger-2/), in collaboration with Jessica Canard, a multi-media visual artist of Ojibwe heritage (https://decolonizingstreetart.com/jessica-canard-2/)

 

Detail of a mural by Dayna Danger, in collaboration with Jessica Canard, St. Henri, Montréal

 

Street art by Aura and Chief Lady Bird – https://decolonizingstreetart.com/aura/ and https://decolonizingstreetart.com/chief-lady-bird/

 

Street art by Colombian American muralist, Jessica Sabogal. Vandalized three times, the vestiges of red and orange paint show attempts to silence her UNCEDED VOICE. https://decolonizingstreetart.com/jessica-sabogal-3/

All photos in this piece were taken by Jody Freeman. Special thanks to Freda Guttman for her impassioned tour of these mural sites in her neighbourhood. Her series of street art on “Acknowledging History, Unsettling Canada” exposes the colonial abuses of the Indian Act of 1867 and current-day practices of the Canadian government.

Detail of street art by Freda Guttman, “Acknowledging History, Unsettling Canada,” St. Henri, Montréal

 

 

[i] For information on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, visit its website at http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=3/

[ii] For more on Mary Two-Axe Earley, see https://decolonizingstreetart.com/shanna-strauss/; and on Ellen Gabriel and her art, http://www.nativelynx.qc.ca/en/visual-arts/first-nations-artists/ellen-gabriel/

[iii] Recounted by Freda Guttman, St. Henri artist and activist. For more on Freda, visit http://www.fredaguttman.com/.

 

I am quite a literal person so when I think of a fault line, the geological reference comes to mind: an unstable place capable of unleashing great violence. Being close to or on the wrong side of the fault line could spell disaster for anything that succumbs to the forces simmering below.

It is not hard to see a political border as such a place. Ever-shifting, established and secured with violence, borders are a constant source of tension or outright conflict. For those fortunate enough to live in lands where fault lines are dormant, such as many (but certainly not all) Canadians, borders seem just fine. But for many millions of people around the globe, they are a source of frustration and terror.

As a photographer, I have been fortunate to witness their impact. Perhaps most shocking was the border between Israel and Gaza which I crossed in 2002 during the second Intifada. Within the space of 30 minutes, I went from the comfort of a smooth highway and an air-conditioned shopping mall to a dust-blown land of shattered buildings and traumatized civilians. An hour later, I was in the Gazan town of Rafah, listening to machine-gun fire and explosions, and watching Israeli bulldozers raze Palestinian homes.

A similar fault line is crossed in a four-hour airplane ride from Montréal to Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. While Montréal has its problems, nothing can prepare one for the levels of deprivation one encounters in the overcrowded slums of Haiti’s major cities. Even a cursory reading of Haitian history – of particular interest to Canadians given our involvement in its travails since 2004 – reveals the extent to which Haiti’s borders have been used to trap these victims of history in a cycle of poverty and exploitation.

Here at home, I have had the privilege of documenting the stories of some of those who risked everything to cross a border that threatened to lock them into a life of fear and hopelessness. Many of them live now with hope of a better life. Others, ensnared in problematic Canadian immigration and security laws, have seen their hopes dashed, their freedom shackled by the fear of being deported back to the hell they sought to escape.

For many of those who’ve escaped it all, such as those sitting before me each day in my second-language classroom, the trauma continues: students panic as they get messages from family members still living in war zones, others break down in tears, still traumatized 20 years after seeing family members murdered, and so many others carry the burden of sadness of being torn from their homeland.

My last example, the current mass migration into Europe, the subject of this brief photo essay, is another example of the dysfunctional border system in our world. On the Greek island of Lesbos, I watched small rubber boats arrive ashore with as many as 60 people stuffed aboard. Two men died en route, others were suffering from hypothermia. Men, women, elderly or handicapped persons, children, babies – as much as $1,500 per person had been paid to human smugglers to reach Europe.

When I arrived in Greece in March 2016, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia and Macedonia had closed their borders to migrants. The overland route to northern Europe was closed and thousands of refugees were stuck in Greece, the largest single group (14,000 people) amassed at the Macedonian border near Idomeni where the cold and the rain made life intolerable. Children, half of the 14,000 inhabitants of the camp, were getting sick and doctors were seeing “trench foot,” a painful skin disease common to soldiers in the trenches of World War I.

On March 20, an agreement between the EU and Turkey took effect, according to which refugees who arrived illegally in Europe risked deportation back to Turkey. Critics warned that migrants would be stuck in limbo in financially struggling Greece, which did in fact happen. Migrants have been living on the streets of Greek cities or stuck in cold, wet tents somewhere in the country, eating dry submarine sandwiches and hunting around for firewood, living in limbo, with no idea of their final destination. Meanwhile, Europe has only processed 2,000 of the 160,000 promised asylum applications.

Critics also stated that migrants would simply seek other more dangerous routes to Europe, like the sea crossing from Libya to Italy. This too has come to pass, with over 1,000 drowning in the Mediterranean Sea in the last week of May 2016 alone.

All of this for the men, women and children fleeing wars or poverty caused largely by policies implemented by many of the rich countries that are making asylum a long and dangerous gamble for them.

The history of these human-made fault lines we call borders is long and complex. I don’t claim to have realistic ready-made solutions. I can nonetheless speak in favour of knowing the stories of those who have been caught in the tragedy they can unleash. Compassion and knowledge offer a way forward.


 

Lost in the Idomeni refugee camp, a young Syrian girl stands in the mud holding a bag of bread for her family. March 10, 2016
Lost in the Idomeni refugee camp, a young Syrian girl stands in the mud holding a bag of bread for her family. March 10, 2016
A man overcome with emotion buries his head in his hands near his tent. Idomeni, March 8, 2016
A man overcome with emotion buries his head in his hands near his tent. Idomeni, March 8, 2016
A man digs a gutter to channel rainwater away from his tent. The cold and damp in the camp was causing pneumonia and trench foot in the camp. Idomeni, March 9, 2016
A man digs a gutter to channel rainwater away from his tent. The cold and damp in the camp was causing pneumonia and trench foot in the camp. Idomeni, March 9, 2016
Local Greek charities offer daily respite from the dreary food being given to the residents of the Idomeni camp. Distribution is chaotic as people clamour for fresh bread, eggs, fruit and vegetables. March 10, 2016
Local Greek charities offer daily respite from the dreary food being given to the residents of the Idomeni camp. Distribution is chaotic as people clamour for fresh bread, eggs, fruit and vegetables. March 10, 2016
Refugees line up in the rain for food in Idomeni. Three times a day, thousands of people queue up be offered dry submarine sandwiches, biscuits and a boiled egg. Mothers stand in line to get their baby bottles filled with milk. Idomeni, March 23, 2016
Refugees line up in the rain for food in Idomeni. Three times a day, thousands of people queue up be offered dry submarine sandwiches, biscuits and a boiled egg. Mothers stand in line to get their baby bottles filled with milk. Idomeni, March 23, 2016
Rescue workers try to warm a Syrian woman suffering from severe hypothermia after a boat landing on Lesbos. Some of the refugees had spent up to six hours on the sea at night, hoping to get by the Turkish coastguard, which would return them to Turkey according to a deal struck with the EU. March 20, 2016
Rescue workers try to warm a Syrian woman suffering from severe hypothermia after a boat landing on Lesbos. Some of the refugees had spent up to six hours on the sea at night, hoping to get by the Turkish coastguard, which would return them to Turkey according to a deal struck with the EU. March 20, 2016
Rescue workers try to revive a man who was later pronounced dead on arrival on the shore of Lesbos. Two men died on this boat. One rescue worker mentioned heart attack, another said that the men drowned in the water that had risen in the boat through a leak in its underside. March 20, 2016
Rescue workers try to revive a man who was later pronounced dead on arrival on the shore of Lesbos. Two men died on this boat. One rescue worker mentioned heart attack, another said that the men drowned in the water that had risen in the boat through a leak in its underside. March 20, 2016
Some of the tens of thousands of lifejackets in the landfill near Molyvos, Lesbos. March 15, 2016
Some of the tens of thousands of lifejackets in the landfill near Molyvos, Lesbos. March 15, 201

Editor’s note:

The photo essay that follows is an excerpt from a larger interactive multimedia piece that appears on the Radio Canada site in French. An English translation from French was done with the help of Prasun Lala and Rola Harmouche.

This work will also be exhibited this summer at the Centre for Sustainable Development (50 Saint- Catherine St. West) from August 10 to August 30.

Naraha, a town located some 20 kilometres south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, had its evacuation order lifted on September 5, 2015. This order had been in effect since the nuclear accident brought on by the tsunami and earthquake in March of 2011. The government had concentrated on decontamination operations for four and a half years, and now the town can finally take its first steps toward recovery. But is this still feasible? The public authorities are encouraging the residents to return, but are they willing? Where are they today? And for those who have come back or are thinking of doing so, what does Naraha look like now? I went to seek out Naraha’s former denizens. Naraha lists its official population at approximately 7,000, but by November 2015, only around 5% had officially returned to live there. Many of the residents were evacuated to the city of Iwaki to the south, including people housed at the Kamiarakawa temporary camp in Iwaki.

 

1ab

Kamakura Mori works at the Naraha Tatsuta Station. He himself comes from Iwaki, but is very committed to the revival of Naraha. He proudly shows me the many flowers that he has planted in and around the station. Further north, the Joban Line that used to run until Minamisoma ends quite abruptly in the bushes at the edge of town, since its route passes through a zone that is still too contaminated.

 

 

 

2ab

Left: This old woman and her husband returned with the city’s authorization in April of 2015. She and her husband, a carpenter, preferred to come back, even though they knew that none of their friends or neighbours would return. Among these friends and neighbours, many have had their houses demolished. She and her husband had lived in three temporary houses in Iwaki, but felt unwanted by the people there. Her children and grandchildren decided to stay permanently in Iwaki. She says many people in Naraha are labourers at the moment, and have agreed to come here out of avarice or because they are outcasts in society. Right: This man works at the Fukushima Daini plant, a few kilometres north of Naraha, at the boundary of the current evacuation zone. The plant bore less of the brunt of the tsunami than the one at Fukushima Daiichi, but nevertheless remains shut down. He wishes to go back to living in his own house, as do his wife and children, but they still have to discuss their actual return date and have planned to make a final decision in the spring of 2016. He tells me that the government came to decontaminate his house simply by washing the walls and the roof.

 

3ab

Left: This man returned to his house. He has a newsstand with his sister. Before the disaster, he would sell more than 800 newspapers a day; now, he sells less than a hundred. His house sustained a lot of damage following the earthquake and he was forced to do renovations totalling around $100 000. Right: This man was born in Naraha and he is among those who had requested permission to return to live at home in the summer of 2014. He told me that had I come a little earlier to see him, he would have invited me to dinner to sample the fish that he had caught in the river below his house. He also keeps a garden, and his vegetables are monitored by the municipality. The government came to decontaminate his house, but he preferred to do it again himself.

 

4ab

Left: This man is Japanese, but was born in China in 1928. He returned to Japan with his family after the Second World War. He is presently preparing to return to Naraha in the coming weeks, with his spouse. They are now fixing their home damaged by humidity over the last four years. Since the disaster, he has lived with his spouse in temporary housing. He had surgery due to lung cancer two years ago. Right: This couple to the right had started to repair their old home, but it was so badly damaged that they decided to tear it down and rebuild. Of the approximately 40 interviews conducted, they were the only ones who told me that they would return with their children and grandchildren as soon as the school reopened. The gentleman plans to reopen his clothing store on the ground floor.

 

 

5ab

Since April of 2015, Yukiko Takano has returned to work in her small coffee-truck. Her customers are mainly labourers for construction and demolition companies, which are present all over the city. Her mother still lives in temporary housing while waiting for her house to be repaired. Tanako often parks her truck in front of the two temporary restaurants set up by the city (in the back). A few of the employees of these two restaurants are foreigners (Chinese) hired by the city.

 

6ab

This man is a city councillor in Naraha. Stored in front of his house are thousands of slightly radioactive sandbags, the result of decontamination operations. He tells me that the radioactivity is well monitored by the state and he is not at all worried.

 

7ab

Left: These two people work in Naraha’s town hall. The one to the right, Masahiro Matsumoto, is a native of Naraha but his house was washed away by the tsunami. He doesn’t have the money to rebuild, and anyway, his family has no desire to move back to Naraha. Right: These two men work at the Naraha Mirai community centre, mandated by the city to recreate social ties among the residents who have returned. They publish a neighbourhood magazine and organize social activities for the beautification of the city (growing flowers, etc.) Nitta, to the left, lives in Koriyama, the big city 100 kilometres northwest. A former resident of Naraha, he does not want to come back here because of his two young children.

 

8ab

In this school, evacuated since the earthquake, everything has remained as it was. To the left, sports shoes and children’s school bags are still in their lockers.

 

9ab

Nature takes its course in many parts of the city. Persimmons, the fruit for which Fukushima was renowned, are found in abundance all over the village. They cover the tree to the left. The city turns on very few public lights at night, and many of the streets are plunged into darkness. Some residents have confided in me that they get scared when night falls. The police make regular rounds; their presence indicated by quiet music that we often hear in the distance.

 

10ab

In November 2015, the Kamiarakawa temporary camp located 20 km south of Naraha runs at 94% of its capacity. It houses 473 residents, including 228 families and 45 individuals under the age of 20.

All the camp’s residents are from Naraha. This camp, as with all temporary camps that have been set up after the disaster in Japan, particularly in Fukushima, consists of a row of regularly spaced prefabricated site bungalows. The living spaces are inadequate, and are often much smaller than the former dwellings of those relocated here. Right: This 14-year-old teenager is one of 45 young people living in the camp. She and her parents will not return to Naraha.

 

11ab

I meet this 88-year-old lady in one of the community halls of the Kamiarakawa camp, and we chat for a while. Her son works at Fukushima Daiichi. In this community hall (on the right), kusudama (modular origami) were recently made.

 

12ab

An association called Tsunagu Kai comes to do volunteer work and distribute clothes and other items to camp residents in anticipation of winter. This is also an important social occasion. A small concert with music and singing is given during the handout, and a volunteer nurse takes the opportunity to check up on some of the elderly people present.