all Treaty People.
The seeds of 2RowFlow were sown during the "winter we danced." In December 2012, a spark ignited Idle No More. Thanks to the viral nature of social media and the inter- connectedness of First Peoples, Idle No More "quickly became one of the largest Indigenous mass movements in Canadian history. What began as a series of teach-ins throughout Saskatchewan to protest impending parliamentary bills that erode Indigenous sovereignty and environmental protections changed the social and political landscape of Canada."
In January 2018, after years of reflection on what it now means to be a Settler in Canada the conceptual art project known as Collective Karmic Debt began. It arose from a phrase coined by Artist & Information Architect, Susan Koch, to describe her lived experience as a Settler in Canada. Susan is the daughter of a mother who belongs to one of the first Scottish Settler families/clans who came by ship from Europe to Canada in the late 1700's and settled in Prince Edward Island. Her father, an Immigrant, came from Germany to Canada as a young man, following the 2nd world war where he witnessed the horrors of Nazi Germany. His father, Susan's Grandfather, was a teacher, violinist, and German soldier who refused to pledge allegiance to Hitler and was imprisoned during the war.
Knowledge of her European roots, her Grandmother was Dutch: and its extensive history of race theory and white supremacy infused Susan's personal life experience as a single mother who married an African Immigrant. Susan has lived, studied and worked in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. She discovered the music of Bob Marley as a teen listening to late night radio in Edmonton, Alberta. If asked what impact that musical encounter had on her life Susan will say with a broad smile that the soundtrack of her life is Roots Rock Reggae. She will then sum up her life experience in 2 words: "Apartheid LOVE".
Apartheid LOVE is the sum effect of living in Canada as a Settler possessing total artistic perception. Awareness that the "Government of Canada" has committed over 150 years of genocide towards the First Peoples of this land is a great injustice. This was achieved by forcibly separating First Peoples from their lands, their children, languages and cultures and also, from Settlers. Over 600 tribes and nations who used to roam freely on this land were confined to reserve camps and must carry "Indian" ID cards as proof that they are second class citizens of this "nation'. This knowledge held in one's consciousness, over time, results in a distinct state of mind. Apartheid Love becomes a frame of reference for all things "Canadian". Further, knowledge that Canada created the concept of APARTHEID, which was later exported to South Africa, makes this state one of global consciousness.
This feeling of apartness and the reality that it is still in effect -- has created a terrible social unbalance, along with high levels of ignorance, greed, mistrust and racism in Canadian Society. It fuels the ultimate imposter experience for Settlers. Worse still, the government of Canada continues to lie and coverup the truth of WHY this mess happened -- in a never ending power play to steal the land and resources of First Peoples, keep Treaty People apart and rewrite History thru the fraudulent narrative of being the manifest masters of this land.
The Collective Karmic Debt Project was, in part, a response to the Government's 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Report. Unlike the Truth and Reconciliation process that occurred in South Africa, Susan noticed that this report did not make suggestions for the everyday Canadian citizen to act on or even declare their remorse. Treaty People, which includes all of so called Canada with the exception of part of British Colombia were, once again, cut out of the half baked apology that took no real responsibility for the magnitude of the genocide that occurred since contact. Further it has failed to take action on even the most basic treaty obligations of creating a safe environment for the woman and children of First Peoples, who are still preyed on in astonishing numbers thru institutions of systemic racism like Child Welfare and Birth Alerts. All suggestions made in the report were directed at government and corporations who failed to get it right the first time, a stunning example of Apartheid Love, in action. This sends the signal that We care, but not "that" much, not enough to re-think the divides that we have built into our racist system of governance.
It is You and I, fellow citizens, who are obliged to seek the truth and reconcile our Collective Karmic Debt to First Peoples. Governments come and go like visitors. Settlers who are born and die on this land may have roots that go back seven generations spanning the entire history of this "nation" and its legacy of genocide. The notion of Collective Karma aligns with the encoded message of the 2 Row Wumpum Belt, in which both First Peoples and Settlers of North America are shown to be floating along, side by side, on a river for "as long as the sun shines and the river flows". Each is in their own vessel, with their own ways of knowing, being and doing. A holistic systems thinker, Susan feels that this metaphor and its symbols represents the unseen energetic flow of information, wisdom and knowledge that moves between cultures from one generation to another over time. This creative flow needs a space in which to exist as it contains solutions that arise from Two Eyed Seeing. It is only by learning about and honouring the best of both cultures that we might move forward to a future of Respect, Friendship and Peace. This is what First Peoples have always wanted from Treaty. The 2RowFlow Cultural Commons is an emerging space in which to grapple with the hidden ground of what it means to be Treaty People and to show respect and solidarity with First Peoples by honouring the Treaties and giving Landback.