[tweetmeme source= ‘yourtwittername’ only_single=false]A call for submissions from Cherry Smiley of Truth and Revolution:

Dear Sisters,

Do you, or someone you know, have a story to tell? Do you want an opportunity to tell it? I’m looking for 582 Native women to lend their stories and images for an art project about our struggles, our resistance, and our pride as Native women.

The media usually presents only one side of our stories, if that. They tell the public only about our struggles and the poor conditions of our lives. While these stories are true and shouldn’t be ignored, I want to acknowledge our full stories, all sides. I want to tell our stories of poverty and loss, but also of our resistance to these things and how we get through them. I want to tell our stories of abuse and struggle, but also of our successes, our talents, and our pride. I want the public to know the harsh realities of our lives but I also want to celebrate 518 years of our resistance in the face of colonization.

Sisters, I am respectfully asking and inviting your participation in this project. Please email truthandrevolution@gmail.com if you are interested in participating.

With Respect,

Cherry Smiley

About the Project:

As of March 2010, the Native Women’s Association of Canada had documented 582 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. We all know the actual number is higher, and we all see stories about this come and go in the media. My mom and I came up with the idea for this project together. We see this project as a response to the media coverage and co-optation of our missing and murdered sisters by non-native people. We see it is a statement against colonization, racism, sexism, and violence against women. But primarily, we see it as a celebration of our strength and resistance as Native women.

This project will include 582 photographs and interviews of Native women across Canada, myself and my family included.

Some of the things we might talk about in the interviews include: the foster care system, residential schools, prostitution, physical violence, sexual violence, colonization, racism, sexism, discrimination, welfare, reserves, city life, poverty, health care, disability, addiction, employment, family, friends, survival, resistance, pride, success, traditions, stories, talents, goals, etc.

I will audio record each interview and also plan on videoing parts of the process. This project will hopefully result in 1) an installation that uses the photos, audio, and text from the interviews, 2) a (possibly self-published) book using the photographs and text from the interviews, and 3) a video project, specifics undecided at this point.

Currently, I have no budget. What I do have is respect, determination, and a desire to tell our stories. At this point, I am financing the project myself.

Eventually, I will be asking for participation all across Canada, every province and territory. For now, because of lack of funds, I am looking for Aboriginal women in and around Vancouver, BC. If you are outside this area and want to participate, please email me anyways, and let me know you’re interested. This will help to plan for the future.

I hope to complete photographs and interviews by September 2011.

Aboriginal women who want better lives for themselves and for our future generations, and who are willing to share their stories and images, are welcome to email truthandrevolution@gmail.com with your name, contact info, and a bit about yourself. Also feel free to email if you have any questions about the project, or if you are emailing on behalf of a woman who does not have access to the internet.

Women who are selected to participate will be contacted in the upcoming months.

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