Gallery 44 acknowledges that it is situated on stolen land. We work and create on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe, the Wendat and the Mississaugas of the Credit. This land is home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis and is protected by the Dish with One Spoon wampum agreement—a treaty that extends to Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations and invites us to share the land peacefully through mutual cooperation. Gallery 44 is inspired by the spirit of this agreement and through our work, seeks to share space and build equitable and reciprocal relationships across communities.
Acknowledging the original custodians of the land is a pivotal first step toward reconciliation; however, acknowledgements should also facilitate responsible actions. More needs to be done by settlers, by our government and by us as arts practitioners to be positive stewards, and to educate ourselves and others on the enduring legacies of colonial violence.
We acknowledge that photography has close ties to colonialism: photography was used as a tool of European imperialism and many image-making and circulation practices today continue to perpetuate the harms of capital, racism and violence. As our modes of working shift toward digital space, we recognize that technology infrastructure is also built on the settler-oriented logic of resource extraction and land exploitation. Gallery 44 commits to using our platform as a vehicle to uphold dissenting histories—amplifying underrecognized practices that have complicated eurocentric narratives for generations. We wish to engage the medium towards new futures that move photography beyond its colonial roots in transgressive and boundary-pushing ways.
We do this by initiating exhibition and education programs driven by artists with culturally-specific knowledge who bring practices of care to challenging topics.
Current and recent examples include:
At this moment of severe climate crisis, it is important to acknowledge that Indigenous communities continue to live under inequitable conditions, impacting all aspects of life, from access to housing, healthcare and safe water to equipment and infrastructure. We recognize that Indigenous epistemologies are critical for learning to care for the environment and mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Gallery 44, as an organization, chooses to take responsibility for climate action and encourages climate consciousness amongst our community.
Operational decisions at Gallery 44 that reflect this commitment include:
Finally, we are committed to reviewing this Land Acknowledgement and associated initiatives on an ongoing basis and will use the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as an annual prompt to do so.
On the occasion of our first annual review of this acknowledgement, we recognize that the housing crisis has only become more urgent, but also, that this is an ongoing, generational issue for both urban and rural Indigenous communities.
Given this context, Gallery 44's Access and Inclusive Action Committee developed the following prompts for Board, staff and committees to consider our geographic position in downtown Toronto where land is at a premium and people can’t afford to live and work. What does it mean to take up space here?
Updated: September 23, 2023
June 2, 2020
Gallery 44 denounces police brutality and systemic racism that continues to enact violence towards Black, Indigenous and POC communities in Canada and the United States. We are deeply saddened and angered by the ongoing violence towards Black communities and stand in solidarity against these oppressions.
G44 understands that galleries are not neutral spaces and recognizes that our society is built on various structural inequities, including systemic racial discrimination, and that these inequities continue to create barriers to access and participation. We are committed to being a positive force to eliminate such barriers, and to uphold anti-racism as part of the core value and mission of our organization.
It is important to make time to listen, understand and stand up against systemic and individual acts of violence and racism. We must continue to educate ourselves particularly on our own histories of racism within Canada, and wish to share this evolving list of resources as a starting point.
Resources we have been using.
Zainub Verjee is currently the Executive Director at OAAG. She discussed this talk and it's themes of diversity management a bit in text here. Great the breakdown and historical background on how we moved from words such as equality, to diversity and inclusion and perhaps how this relates to anti-racism movements.
Mackenzie Art Gallery's thorough research project and an interesting example of how arts orgs are developing resources and literacy around systemic issues.
Free online workshops on methodologies in the areas of bystander intervention, conflict de-escalation, harassment prevention, and resilience.
Amanda's article is a helpful summary of Black-led activism and attempts to challenge anti-Black racism in the cultural sector. She documents four recent movements (many of which are in Toronto) as case studies.