It was three weeks after the Primary Colours residency when I saw the hummingbirds. I had come into the forest looking for strength and guidance, trying to find that path that had seemed so certain while in Banff. “Find a cedar tree and look for the branch that is vibrating. Call on your ancestors. They will be there.” but I hadn’t even got that far. Before searching out the cedar tree there was the lake, icy cold in May, and it was on the sloping shore, shivering, awkward and off balance as struggled to put a muddy foot through the leg of my boxers, that I saw the first one. Or rather heard it, a directionless buzz, a chip-chip-chip; it took me a minute to find the source above my head and about a meter to the left.
Banff seemed a million miles away. Where was that feeling of being strong, centered, seen, heard and held up? I remember entering the first session and sensing a crackle in the air. You can tell when you’re in a room full of smart, questioning people, fully engaged, ready to challenge and be challenged. The first thing we did was put the big questions on the table. “How do we start to undo the colonial nature of arts organizations?” “How do we resist expressions of white fragility while we work it out?” “How do we create links of trust between Indigenous artists and artists of colour in circumstances that put us in opposition and conflict?”, “How does a group of people who are working together work with different worldviews?”, “Can we make new mistakes rather than repeat the old ones?”, “Does Decolonization help us live through complicated histories or can it harm as well?”. These questions would frame much of the discussions over the next two weeks.