Gerry Ambers is one of the co-curators of Woven In: Indigenous Women’s Activism and Media — an exhibition that celebrates the intergenerational continuum of grassroots leadership and anticolonial organizing led by Indigenous women through advocacy, communications, artistry, and community initiatives. Along with works by Siku Allooloo, Marianne Nicolson, Banchi Hanuse and Tania Willard, Gerry Ambers brings historic publications from her personal archives, into the AGGV’s Gallery spaces, to highlighting the pivotal work being done by Indigenous land defenders who continue to come together to stand up for themselves and their people.
Gerry’s archive is expansive and full to the brim with important resources and knowledge that was proliferated during the late 20th century. These publications were created to be disseminated rapidly and easily, and were often not copyrighted. Indigenous worldviews can be felt in the ethos that went into these publications, that knowledge is meant to be shared without barriers, that connection to one another is essential, and that knowledge is power. Gerry’s archive is a precious resource, and glimpses of the knowledge held there can be seen throughout her lightbox — a collage of covers and excerpts from select publications from the 60s to the late 90s, out of her archives.
Learn more about Woven In: https://aggv.ca/exhibits/woven-in/
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is located on the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən speaking peoples, today known as the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations. We extend our gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to live and work on this territory.
Videography and editing by Marina DiMaio.Gerry Ambers is one of the co-curators of Woven In: Indigenous Women’s Activism and Media — an exhibition that celebrates the intergenerational continuum of grassroots leadership and anticolonial organizing led by Indigenous women through advocacy, communications, artistry, and community initiatives. Along with works by Siku Allo …
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Gerry Ambers: Story is a woman. Not long, not short.
A woman with body of carved petroglyph tongue of red memories
eyes of dark insight ears of drummed legends.
We’ll just read that first section.
And that’s by MariJo Moore.
This was part of a newsletter that I collected and saved.
My name is Gerry Ambers. And my name from my territory
the ʼNa̱mǥis of the Kwakwaka’wakw
And I’m here from an invitation from
Marianne Nicolson and Siku Allooloo
to participate in this Woven In exhibit.
I’m also part of the Tide Lines: Coastal
Resistance of the 60s and 70s exhibit
at Open Space Gallery, and the purpose of the exhibit
came as a result of a gathering
of activist artists of the sixties and seventies.
They felt it was really important to document the history
of those two decades that they were part of.
So that is how Tide Lines started.
And it was a living exhibit, so it just kept building
as more people remembered information and would send it in.
And we’d had a timeline of historical events of the activism.
Actually, I brought the first of my archives from the sixties
and seventies, which included many different newsletters
that I’d saved over the years, partly because in a way it was
our grassroots history in those newsletters.
So I saved them all these years.
And when we were starting to work on the Woven In exhibit,
I brought up many of the publications to share
and for people to look at, and this is the result of that sharing,
was to create a panel of the examples
of some of the many, many newsletters at that time.
There were hundreds and hundreds
of newsletters that were created
by people all along the coast and all over Canada.
And that was our way of conveying
the issues that we were dealing with at the time.
And so this is actually a living history
in the pages of these newsletters
from those times from the sixties and seventies.
But this is more from the sixties
to present time.
A lot of the movement, it was a grassroots movement.
It was a movement by the people in
our communities and in the cities.
And the artists played a very big role in
helping create newsletters, doing the artwork for the newsletters,
creating T-shirts to fundraise, and beaders
to create beadwork, to sell, to keep the movement moving forward.
And so a way of conveying,
you know, what was important to keep the movement
and the resistance very much
alive was through the vehicle of newsletters.
Their pages are full of artwork and poetry
and different expressions of art.
For myself in the sixties and seventies,
we really actually worked interdependently.
We all created this work together,
and we didn’t really document who did what.
It was a collaborative
But I also feel over the course of time, the voices of women
have been eclipsed in the work that’s
been done in various movements and activist work.
And colonization is very patriarchal.
So as it progresses, it hasn’t gone anywhere.
And so the intensification of patriarchy will continue as well.
I think for me, I feel that we need to, as a people,
as Indigenous people, as women, as Indigenous women,
but also all people, to remember that
we have valuable stories.
And it’s important to share those stories,
not to get locked into thinking that
the only stories that are of any value
come from the elite, because it was the ordinary people
that built this country, built this world,
created relationships, made beautiful works of art that no one saw.
I think that the voices of
all people, the stories of all people, that includes the women,
the women need their place in the stories, as do
all of the grassroots people,
because the powers that be aren’t going to write our stories.
We have to write our stories for each other and to remember.
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