Pam Patterson + Christine Durant.


Walk softly on the landAction

Pam Patterson and Christine Durant are social/cultural workers living in Prince Edward County. They have been unpacking, over the years, oft-entrenched ideologies that have harmed and continue to harm individuals and the land. There is a certain facility in pointing to historic figures such as Sir John A. Macdonald as perpetrators, but the issues are so complex, and policies remain woven into the very fabric of our societies, governments and lives. This is personal and political, and many are implicated.

Patterson and Durant wanted to activate a visual/textual conversation. We did not to presume to adopt an Indigenous voice but rather intended to explore ways we could continue to acknowledge what/who has been irrevocably damaged by these ideas and practices and recognise the need to take up these issues as we treaded softly together on the land.

Through intentional walking, looking and listening, we connected. This connection was established through simultaneous photographing and viewing of each other’s photos taken while walking using WhatsApp.

This event invited participants to step at 12 noon on Saturday Oct. 3rd onto the Millennium Trail at different locations in Prince Edward County or to walk with us from afar in their home countries and cities. We asked: How might this trail, as remnant of a railway that connected the County, be a metaphor for Sir John A’s legacy? Did the Trans-Canada Railway unite or injure people as/for “nation”? Is this trail suggestive of an attempted recovery of “natural” space? Does it speak to other travels made Indigenous people, colonists, Loyalists, residents or visiting tourists? Complex connections emerged.

For 60 mins, 17 participants from all over Ontario, London, UK, and from various sites on the Millennium Trail photographed what they saw as they walked. The images popped up in each person’s WhatsApp feed. Patterson and Durant responded in image and text. What remains is a record of our conversation and of our attempts to unravel the impact of national policies and individual actions that have affected, and continue to affect, the use, loss and preservation of “land”.

Special thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for funding.

See also Pam Patterson’s What may I …

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