“This is What I Wish You Knew” is a community arts project led by the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre (MNFC) that brought together 50 Indigenous community members to explore what it means to be Indigenous and living in Halifax. These youth, adults, seniors, and elders each created a clay tile that depicts who they are as an Indigenous person, and that tells the stories they wish others knew about what it means to be Indigenous and living in the city. The This Is What I Wish You Knew project is aimed at increasing the visibility of urban Indigenous peoples in Halifax, and is driven by the intricately linked goals of awareness of Canada’s historic and on-going role in colonialism, recognition of the experience of Indigenous peoples in Canada, increased responsibility of the citizenry for Indigenous social justice, and then reconciliation. The resulting interactive clay mural displayed at the MNFC showcases each community member’s tile and an accompanying video that tells the story and message behind each tile.
The research team is a partnership initiated by the MNFC and is comprised of individuals from Dalhousie University, NSCAD, and the MNFC. The intent of the community based participatory research is to initiate dialogue as part of a reconciliation effort and to share stories related to Indigenous identity in Halifax. Overall, we seek a greater understanding of the linkages between awareness and engagement with Indigenous issues, various aspects of cultural identity—and their relations with collective and allied actions in support of Indigenous issues and views towards reconciliation. The MNFC and members of the Indigenous community in Halifax have been involved in all aspects of the research, from initial conception to knowledge dissemination.
The project aims to raise awareness within the general public and to build pathways of understanding that lead to reconciliation. The lack of education and awareness of the history and consequences of colonization are among the main contributors to continuing racism against Indigenous peoples in Halifax and giving voice to members of silenced communities can contribute to dialogue and reconciliation - both within the urban Indigenous community - and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Dr. Amy Bombay: Expertise in exploring cultural identity, Indigenous mental health, and in the use of quantitative research methods. Responsible for overall direction of the project with the MNFC.
Michelle Paul: is a community worker at the MNFC and is the community coordinator for the arts project This Is What I Wish You Knew.
Dr. Carla Taunton: Expertise in Indigenous art methodologies, theories of decolonization and settler responsibilities and will oversee production of clay murals and participate in data collection, analysis, interpretation, and knowledge dissemination.
Dr. Adele Vukic: Expertise in Indigenous mental health research, and participatory action research methods.Dr. Lisa Wexler: Expertise in the use of community-based participatory research methods to support Indigenous youth resilience, and mental health and to prevent suicide and other adverse events.
Ms. Wexler's Fulbright Research Chair in Society and Culture was supported by Fulbright Canada, a joint, bi-national, treaty-based organization created to encourage mutual understanding between Canada and the United States of America through academic and cultural exchange. Fulbright Canada is supported by the Canadian Government, through Foreign Affairs Trade and Development Canada, by the United States Government, through the Department of State, and by a diverse group of corporate sponsors, charitable trusts, and university partners. It is governed by an independent Board of Directors and operates out of Ottawa.