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July 3, 2020

Kaya Joan

I was born and raised in Tkaronto Dish with one spoon treaty territory, I am afro-Indigenous my mother mom is Kanien’keha from Kahnawake and Irish. My maternal grandfather immigrated here from jamaica. My dads family immigrated here from Bequia (St Vincent). Im an artist, I just graduated from OCAD U the indigenous visual culture program. Im a part of an afro indigenous femme non binary two spirit collective called Weave and Mend.

I'm a part of kensington market and I have for a year and a half, maybe two now. College and Spadina area. Taddle creek is the river I’m closest too, and then the Garrison Creek. I’m sure there are more - I was looking at the lost rivers map and one runs right under kensington but it didn’t seem to have a name. But you know, if it did have a name on the map, it would just be some white colonizers name anyway, but I don’t know what their name is - i would want to give it a name in ganengeha - I definitely have a relationship with the river though, I try to speak to them as often as possible, especially when i'm outside doing some body practice, I try to send energy down to that river, and receive what I know is it’s good energy back.

Relationship to Landwork
I’ve always had a relationship to land, and was lucky enough to grow up next to a ravine that has a tributary running through it, I spent a lot of time with the land there and it’s where a lot of the source and inspiration for my artistic practice comes from, being in that relationship, having grown up in the city. It’s definitely changed depending on where I am situated - now I dont have access to forested land, so I’ve taken to walking through alleyways, they are sanctuaries in their own ways, like these forgotten parts of the city that hold a lot of energy and story in them, weeds that grow through cracks and trees in peoples backyards. It’s a little quieter there. That’s one way my relationship to land has changed.
Weave and Mend: we began the project at Sketch where we planted/landscaped this garden space on this small sliver of land. That was a really interesting process because it’s still a very urdan space but then this one space of sanctuary where we’ve planted medicines and people are now always saying to us how that place is special to them and they go there to sit and think and how much that space means to them. How powerful those spaces in the city are. The spaces where we can rest and breathe safely.

Place that you miss
I grew up with a family cottage for the first 4 years of my life, it was my great grandparents cottage on my maternal side. I also miss the ravine that I grew up beside and it is connected to mount pleasant cemetery which is also a nature space and quiet, I miss that space as well. The ravine was a wonderful amalgamation of city and nature because it had a huge bridge (the st clair bridge) that ran over it that was covered in graffiti, and actually where I was first introduced to graffiti - that would constantly be changing - it’s a really magical space.

Favourite black poet/book

Octavia Butler because she’s a prophet - her parable series is very potent right now, thinking a lot about her prophecies and what is happening right now, but then also Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Marie Brown, who is another Octavia fan, and engages with her work in really interesting ways. How Octavia engages with the future, and non human, and animals and entities - and how those things can be sci fi but can also exist in human realms as well. Brown Girl In the Ring - Nalo Hopkinson a potent book about the collapse of the urban centers.