This March 7-10, 2018, we gathered in Nogojiwanong (Peterborough), on Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg territory, for an exciting symposium and multi-day workshop, Manifesting Resistance: Conversations about Intergenerational Memory Work across ‘the Americas.’ This project came together as a collaboration between Aging Activisms (based at Trent University, led by May Chazan) and Critical MediArtStudio (cMAS, based at Simon Fraser University, led by Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda).

Over these four days, we came together as a small, intimate group of scholars, artists and activists from across “the Americas” to begin a conversation about intergenerational memory work, resistance, and creative archive-making. We understand “the Americas” as a geographical demarcation constructed through colonialism: we use this imperfect language to acknowledge that participants hail from across Turtle Island and beyond, including from locations outside of the often singular, homogenous, US-centric conception of “America” and indeed outside of the “Global North.”

This gathering unfolded in two interrelated parts. In our opening symposium on March 7th, we grounded our conversations in the land and territory in which we gathered – learning about some of the important activist remembering underway in Michi Saagiig territory and here in Nogojiwanong. We carried forward from this opening the question of how land, place, and territory might shape all of our different memory projects, in varied and possibly unexpected ways. Then, from March 8th to March 10th, we facilitated a collaborative media creation workshop, working as a smaller group to interview and photograph each other, to share in a series of circle conversations, and ultimately to co-create a collection of short media capsules or digital stories about our memory projects. As a research event, our collective meaning-making of this work aims to push the boundaries of how we conceptualize activisms, archives, aging, and the intersections of these.

Conversations about Intergenerational Memory Work across 'the Americas'
Nogojiwanong (Peterborough), March 7-10, 2018 

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Alice Olsen Williams

Alice Olsen Williams

A conversation with Alice Olsen Williams, from Manifesting Resistance 2018. Alice was born in Trout Lake, in the traditional territory of her mother’s people. She received her teaching certificate from Lakehead Teacher’s College, Thunder Bay, Ont. Having taught in Thunder Bay and at Pic Mobert First Nation, Alice and Doug, moved to Curve Lake First Nation. While looking after their four children and their home, Alice completed her B.A. from Trent University as well as developing her skills in beadwork and sewing. In 1980 she discovered quilting, mastering the techniques which allow her to create the meticulous hand-quilting in her bed coverings and wall hangings. Gradually Alice formed the concepts which would be the basis for her distinctive style and work. Blending her cultural heritage into a unified whole, she envisions the central motif to depict the symbols and themes of Anishinaabe culture, surrounded by the conventional North American quilting blocks and patterns which were developed and continue to be evolved by those women and their descendants who came to this Land from Europe, the legacy of her father’s people. Through her understanding of the teachings of the Elders, Alice has created her own Life symbol. She continues to grow as an artist, searching for new ways to express the Spirit of Creation in the images of her designs. About Alice’s memory work: The way I live my Life is a memory project and intergenerational work, from raising my children to the social justice work and art in the quilt making that I do. www.pimaatisiwin-quilts.com