Sexual Assault: The Roadshow, an art and education project, on until October 26

Latoya Beaudry joins Alicia Aibens in viewing some of the art at the exhibit, on now until October 26. photos by Giselle Aiabens

WIIKWEMKOONG—Sexual Assault: The Roadshow, a 20’ x 8’ shipping container that houses a participatory travelling art gallery and education project was recently delivered to the Wikwemikong High School for a month-long stay.

The Wiikwemkoong/Manitoulin Island stop is the third and final stop of The Roadshow’s Northern Tour, as well as the last and final stop for the exhibit, which has been travelling throughout Ontario since 2016, stopping at 20 communities.

The belief that “art has the power to make us think differently” is central to the exhibit and therefore local artists are brought on to the project at each of the stops to curate the exhibit as well as to engage and work with participants to create many different types of art intended to talk back to sexual violence.

Wiikwemkoong artist Darlene ‘Dolly’ Peltier is the exhibit curator and facilitator of The Spirit of Women art workshops, designed to bring participants together to explore self-expression through painting and beading. In honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women, and as a part of the REDdress movement, participants will create remembrance medallions around pictures of missing and murdered Indigenous women, which will be exhibited on a red dress. Works created through these workshops will be on display from October 17 until closing.

Barbara Peltier, program manager for the Wiikwemkoong Family Wellbeing Program, who was instrumental in bringing The Roadshow to Wiikwemkoong, explains that it was important to place the exhibit at the high school to serve as a visual reminder to the youth, “our future parents and future leaders, who are beginning to have relationships, that sexual violence still happens in the community.” She sees the exhibit as a way of helping to empower youth and all individuals to reach out and to speak out against sexual violence.

Ms. Peltier says that sexual violence, one of the lasting effects of colonialism, is not being properly addressed and that there are many community resources to help victims of violence, whether they be women, men, or youth, as well as those who commit acts of violence. Seeking help is imperative in breaking the cycle of violence.

Sergeant Greg Mishibinijima, speaking at the grand opening ceremony of the exhibit, encouraged victims of sexual violence to speak out in order to get away from the “culture of silence and shaming, that victims have to live with.” He adds that “we want people to speak out” and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be to the police if that’s uncomfortable but to speak to a trusted individual. Sergeant Mishibinijima believes that when victims of sexual violence speak out, they will begin their healing and can relieve stress, which may otherwise lead to other issues.

The Roadshow recognizes that the path to healing is long and the inter-generational effects of sexual violence run deep; however, it also acknowledges the hope and strength of Indigenous peoples and their work toward meaningful change.

The Roadshow’s Northern Tour is led by Artistic Director Denise Bolduc (Anishinaabe, member of Batchewana Nation), and project founder/sexual assault activist, Jane Doe. For the Wiikwemkoong/

Manitoulin Island stop, The Roadshow is in collaboration with the Wiikwemkoong Family Wellbeing Program, which also acknowledges the support of other community partners, including the high school; Nadmadwin Mental Health Centre; and Naandwechige-Gamig Wikwemikong Health Centre as well as other partners.

Family Wellbeing Worker and key coordinator Alicia Aibens encourages anyone who is interested from “Manitoulin Island community and beyond,” to visit The Roadshow up to the final day of the exhibit on October 26. Public viewing hours are daily from 1 to 3 pm, Monday – Friday, weather permitting. A frontline worker is always available during viewing hours, should anyone need someone to speak to.