In November 2005, I was invited to participate in the "Artist Statement: Artistic Inquiry and the Role of the Artist in Academe" workshop/symposium co-organized by Will Garrett-Petts and Rachel Nash of Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops BC, Canada.

The "Artist Statement" workshop/symposium was part a five-year research program supported by a Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The program focused on how the "artists-as-researchers" model extends and complicates the practice of interdisciplinary research and collaborative practices.

On November 26, I delivered a presentation titled "Imaging Place; an artistic Inquiry", and spent November 27 producing the initial fieldwork media for the "Imaging British Columbia" project.



The fist phase of "Imaging British Columbia" focuses on the Soft Wood Lumber Treaty between the U.S. and Canada. In 2001 the U.S. government decided to prop up it's own inefficient timber industry by imposing a large punitive tariff on Canadian softwood lumber imports. Since Canada and the U.S. both signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Canadian government went to the World Trade Organization and filed a complaint. What followed was three years of panels and arbitrators looking at the case, finding the U.S. actions illegal under NAFTA. The U.S. position remains that it won't accept any decision that rejects U.S. claims, and if Canada wants to end this dispute they have to agree to U.S. terms. Hundreds of miles from any border, issues of globalization dominate the landscape.

With Weyerhaeuser, a U.S. softwood lumber plant, as a backdrop, Michael Jarrett and other "Artists Statement" participants move through various plant operations drawing correlations between wood pulp and the history of writing.



Michael Jarrett: "Can you see the logs behind us? They're just amazing. Its like these giant scrolls littering the landscape. I used to go to sunday school. We'd make these scrolls out of paper straws. They didn't have plastic straws at that time. You would take two straws and a little strip of paper and you would make a scroll."



Michael Jarrett: "So years later, I read this book by Hugh Kenner that was really important to me. And he talked about how so much of the literature that I had read might as well been written on scrolls because it just unfolds before us."

Danyel Ferrari: "I was wondering what the emotional loss was of experiencing a place only visually, and then I remembered that I experience everywhere I ever go as though it was a picture first. And thats really when I know how to feel with it or how to think it."



Shawn Berney: "I see the everyday. I see my friends work. They labor day and night in the saw mill, on shift work, and they put food on the table."

Michael Jarrett: "At a certain point, people start writing in codexes, books whith leaves. And books become random access machines instead of these linear big log-like, scroll-like narratives. A great example is the encyclopedia, the telephone book, and now with the internet, we end up thinking in terms of this random access pattern. It's really amazing to see the birth of writing in front of us, from leaves, to pulp, to bark, to big piles of amazing logs here."



Michael Jarrett: "The thing that strikes you at any paper plant is, that you smell the place and know that there is a price to pay. You get your nose into it and it is quite different than getting your nose into a book."



Michael Jarrett: "All this is done in secret. It is almost as if the making of books is a secret activity here. This pulp that makes book seems to arise out of this caldron, and so there is this really hideous beauty here at this place."



Michael Jarrett: "Georgia and I were talking about Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, and what is it? People in stalker, they get what their innermost need is met in the zone..."


Georgia Kotretsos: "Their wish. I think it's the idea of, you could get what you want, but do you really want to get what you want?"

Michael Jarrett: "Right and that's being tested, do you really want to get what you want."



Danyel Ferrari: "Benoble monkeys buy sex from each other with oranges, because they are capable of placing value on a thing and exchanging that thing for something else that they want, and it's a process of consumption."

Shawn Berney: "It's a matter of degree. We are always consuming, but no other time in history, have we consumed at the level we are today."


In the spring of 2006, Will Garrett-Petts invited me back to Kamloops to deliver a public lecture, conduct a workshop sessions with CURA researchers and to further develop the "Imaging British Columbia" project as a pilot project for CURA.

During this stay in Kamloops, I worked with the local Secwepemc (Shuswap) people to produce a new phase of the "Imaging British Columbia" project that focuses on the stories of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The school was created in 1893 by the Canadian government in cooperation with Roman and Protestant churches to "Christianize and civilizes" the Secwepemc.



The school building, which stands today, was built in 1923 and operated as the Kamloops Indian Residential School until 1978. For most of its existence, little education took place at the school. Instead, the school was used to colonize and assimilate the Secwepemc. Students were taught menial farming and homemaking skills, but most of their time was spent maintaining the school itself. Canadian law mandated attendance at the school and parents could be sent to prison if they refused.

Over four generation of Secwepemc children were taken from their parents and forced to attend the School. These children were isolated from their traditional culture and indoctrinated in Catholic religious teachings. Although many of the children did not speak English, they were forbidden to speak Secwpemctsin and were severely punished when they did. The individuals I worked with referred to this practice as strapping, where the children would be hit across the forearms, or elsewhere, with large leather straps. The irony was, that the children themselves were forced to make the straps. The legacy of the Kamloops Indian Residential School has been devastating for the Secwepemc. Shame of the Secwepemc culture and language was deeply instilled in the children. The effects include all manner of personal, social, cultural, and spiritual dysfunction. The Secwpemctsin language was nearly lost.



In "Imaging British Columbia: Kamloops Indian Residential School", users can navigate through this imposing building where they will encounter several generations of former students recounting their experiences at the school.

Since 1978 the Kamloops Indian Band has run the facility, which now houses a variety of Band organization. The word Kamloops is the English translation of the Secwepemc word Tk'emlups, meaning 'confluence,' and for centuries has been a center of the Secwepemc culture. Bands of first nations people from across British Columbia are once again turning to the Secwepemc for leadership. They conduct a well-established project to preserve and restore the Secwpemctsin language and the school they run is one of the best in the state.

At one time the Secwepemc people occupied one large traditional territory covering approximately 145,000 square kilometers. The Kamloops Reserve land base was established in 1862 under the direction of then Governor James Douglas. It included an area approximately 26 miles east of the North Thompson River by 26 miles north of the South Thompson River, adjacent to the City of Kamloops. Although the Secwepemc never signed away their rights to this land, in subsequent years the reserve was reduced in size to around 7 by 7 miles today. In 1988 the Kamloops Indian Band filed a claim to the original Douglas Reserve. In 2001 the Canadian Government rejected the claim. The Kamloops Indian Band is currently preparing to file a new claim under the Douglas Reserve Initiative at Residential School.



Future work on "Imaging British Columbia: Kamloops Indian Residential School" will attempt to map the stories of the Secwepemc people onto Douglas land claim.