Teiakwanahstahsontéhrha’ | We Extend the Rafters: a children's exhibition

Photo - Skawennati. Teiakwanahstahsontéhrha’

My name is Iotetshèn:’en, and I live on Earth—usually. Our planet is united under the Great Law of Peace. […] Earth has been attacked by more than one visitor from outerspace, and our harmonious way of life is being threatened. So for now, my home is this spaceship. We are travelling to the first meeting of the five nearest, friendliest planets in our galaxy. The goal of our mission is to create a union that will protect us from attacks and also help us share our very different knowledges. I have been invited on this historic voyage because I have a special power…

Thus begins The Peacemaker Returns, a futuristic saga set in 3025 yet firmly rooted in the ancestral Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) confederation story and featuring historical figures such as Tekanawí:ta, Jacques Cartier, and a president addicted to Twitter!

This new machinima—an animation-style movie produced on the virtual reality platform Second Life—is the core of the children’s exhibition “Teiakwanahstahsontéhrha’ | We Extend the Rafters,” designed specifically for kids aged 5 to 11 by Kanien’kehà:ka (Mohawk) artist Skawennati and presented at VOX from October 28, 2017 to January 27, 2018. Audiences of all ages were invited to (re)discover some traditions in the artist’s “museum of the future,” an original installation. A guided tour and a collective workshop in the form of an innovative board game also encouraged young and mature viewers alike to (re)learn history from an Indigenous perspective and imagine how all people can contribute to the world of tomorrow, reminding us how History, like any other narrative, is a construction defined by those who tell it.

The project was a definite success at VOX: our expert facilitators welcomed over 1,000 children! In addition to receiving Montreal students from grades 1 to 6 (both francophones and anglophones), we had the privilege of forging new relationships with certain Indigenous communities in Quebec. All elementary level kids from Indian Way School in Kahnawake, a high school class from the Kahnawake Survival School, and about 20 college students from the Kiuna Institution in Odanak—always escorted by devoted educators—came to discover Skawennati’s artworks and engage in conversations with us, in a spirit of generosity and openness. These were moving, inspiring and transformative meetings.

Finally, we are proud to announce that “Teiakwanahstahsontéhrha’ | We Extend the Rafters” will open in April 2018 at Axenéo7 (Gatineau), the first stop of a tour that will hopefully allow Skawennati’s message of Respect, Unity and Peace to shine from coast to coast.