jjjjj© Scott Benesiinaabandan


2015-2016: Phase 1

Mooniyaang, the Anishinabemowin word for Montreal, is a project initiated by Émilie Monnet about the often difficult to access Indigenous histories of these territories. As artists, how do we make use of artistic sensibilities in order to unsettle dominant historical discourses? Their sounds and meanings coded with the relational principles of our own worldviews, how do Indigenous languages offer us a better understanding of land and deepen our connection to these territories?

During an initial research phase in the Fall of 2015, the artists Émilie Monnet, Pohanna Pyne Feinberg and Scott Benesiinaabandan travelled around the island of Montreal, following the shores of the Kaniatarowanenneh or St Lawrence river, to reflect on their connection to the land and water, and get a geographical sense of the territory. The artists also visited a series of public monuments in the city to gain an understanding of the dominant portrayals of colonial histories in this region. In October 2015, the artists participated in a two week creative residency where they started to develop individual projects through dialogue with one another and by conducting interviews with knowledge keepers.

Mooniyaang is developed in partnership with OBORO. Future research, creation and presentation are currently being planned for this project.

WE WALK WITH WATER – Pohanna Pyne Feinberg

The work I propose takes the form of a living, moving monument that is experienced while walking (rather than walking around a fixed inert object). This monument acknowledges the contribution of water walkers and is a portrait of a historical moment – it reflects our current relationship with water. Presented in the format of an audio walk, it is also a point of departure for discussion and action. As with all public monuments, it is a pedagogical device with an agenda. In this case, I intend to amplify the voices of Water Walkers, the evocative energy of water, and the resonance of water songs.

HAND ON HAND – Émilie Monnet

Drawing from my performance at VIVA! Performance Art Biennale, Hand on Hand confronts the narratives surrounding the Jacques Cartier public monument, exploring how performative actions can become counter-narrative gestures. This title refers to the reserve unit of the Royal Canadian Navy logo portraying a handshake between Jacques Cartier and Donnacona — a chief who saved the French by curing them from scurvy but was then later captured and died in France.


For thousands of years, indigenous peoples have lived and continue to live in this territory now called Montreal. Resultant of colonization, many stories about the occupation of these territories have not been passed down and the histories of all Indigenous nations who resided in these territories are not being acknowledged. This sound installation aims at bringing some of these stories to acknowledge the vibrancy and rich legacy of this land.


With this project I want to make a new body of work that considers the importance of monuments and counter-­monuments, the differences and similarities between Western monument-­making and Indigenous monument-­making and what this means for artists and citizens of our respective communities. The work is also interested in the overt issues that present themselves in the histories they celebrate while investigating ways to provide a meaningful and impactful counter narrative.


Wewalkwithwater_installationview ©Pohanna Pyne Feinberg

Hand on Hand, Émilie Monnet’s performance at VIVA! Performance Art Biennale, ©Paul Littlehead

scott_monuments © Scott Benesiinaabandan