Sunday, February 16, 2020

Tracks, Traces, Tracings

It took me a while to grow into the paintings of Dene Suline and Saulteaux artist Alex Javier (see his Networking Curator, 1988, above). Only after meeting Alex during his 2017 UBC Okanagan residency was I able to follow his colours, lines and forms. Landscapes, yes, and the great bird ("pterodactyl") who knows through its own form the shapes its rivers take -- all of it suggested by an even greater force, the Creator.

Alex did a series of gouache drawings for his residency, which he hung on the wall like pages from a book. If you visited him at the FCCS FINA Gallery, he would walk you through these pages, tracing his finger over their thin and thinning lines -- as he did with me, on one occasion stopping to trace back his finger and tap on a spot that I hadn't noticed (he knew me well enough by then to know I would have said something if I had). "Here," he said. "Here is the railway. Often along rivers. That's where most indigenous people lived. Along rivers." Alex looked at me. "You can understand why." Yes, I told him, I think I can.

The "official" national narrative has it that the completion of the railway ("across empty country") was the making of and the taking of what is known today as Canada. Evidence of this taking can be found in the country's legal history, where railway execs and indigenous people have been warring over unceded and treaty territory long before those first western tracks were laid. This war has intergenerational implications, not only for indigenous people but for those in the legal profession. A notable local case is the Macaulay family.

James Macaulay is a partner in Macaulay McColl, a firm that, in 1987, "billed nearly $738, 365 acting for the Justice Department in three native land claims, including the Gitskan Wet'suwet'en trial. In the previous year the firm had billed about $339, 000 for those cases." James Macaulay's daughter Mary is a partner in Mandell Pinder. Here is Mary's professional summary:

For more than 20 years Mary has acted as counsel for First Nations in Aboriginal litigation, as well as in commercial and personal injury cases.  She has appeared in B.C. and Ontario Supreme Courts, Federal Court and before the Courts of Appeal. Mary is the author of the litigation handbook Aboriginal & Treaty Rights Practice (Carswell, textbook and bi-annual subscription service, originally published in 2000), and co-author of Snow Houses Leave no Ruins”: Unique Evidence Issues in Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Cases (The Saskatchewan Law Review, 1996, vol. 60). 

Throughout her career Mary has taken part in the practical and academic development of the law on aboriginal litigation issues, both as chair and presenter at legal conferences, as well as serving as a member of the executive and as co-chair of the Canadian Bar Association- Ontario, Aboriginal Law Section (1995-1998). For several years she was an instructor for the Continuing Legal Education’s Annual Advocacy Skills Workshop. In addition to arts and law degrees, she holds a Master of Laws focusing in Alternative Dispute Resolution from Osgoode Hall Law School (1997). 

Mary has a strong interest in the visual arts. She has served as a board member of the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver’s only public art gallery dedicated to the exhibition of and education about contemporary art (2000-2006), and is currently an honourary council member of the Canadian Society for the Decorative Arts and a [board] director of the Western Front, an artist run center for contemporary art and new music located in Vancouver.

No comments:

Post a Comment