Please introduce yourself and your arts practice
“I am a tenth generation settler from France on my paternal side. I bear the name Lemieux. On my maternal side I am first generation settler from Netherlands. I hold the name Kristina with a K. I was taught to speak only English despite both my parents’ bilingualism. I grew up on Treaty 6 territory which is the home and traveling routes to the Métis, Plains Cree, Tsuu T’ina and other Indigenous peoples, although this information was not known to me in my youth. I am a woman, queer, educated and white. Though I have come from a multiplicity of places I have no roots, save for those taught to us by the dominant culture. I am drawn to those with a clear sense of identity and culture that is excluded by our culture in a variety of ways including many systemic barriers.
Since 2015, I have been running my projects under the name Scaffold. Scaffold is a shared platform that supports a variety of independent artists and small-incorporated arts organizations. This support may involve coaching, advising, supporting, reviewing, planning, and, in rare cases, doing. Scaffold is structured so artists pay a consistent monthly fee and have access to a set number of hours over a six-month period. This structure allows artists and small nonprofits to budget for the expense and access the support whenever it is needed. Scaffold is a flexible structure for exchange where construction is resisted and collaborative efforts land on one-size-fits-one processes which are developed, lived with, abandoned and revisited within multiple non-hierarchical points that shift and settle with one or more of the Scaffolders. We are, all at once, alone and connected. This collective roam may be directed or may be arbitrary. Through connections we work with curiosity to find ways to spread our works and support ourselves in the style that allow us to live the life we want to.
Scaffold is facilitated by myself, whose role is to care for those supported within Scaffold. Bringing in, supporting, focusing and connecting the individuals who make up our whole. Connections are made through relationships and a shared value in practicing from a space of reciprocity, collaboration, plenty and tenacity.”
Tell the story of your Indigenous performance engagement
“Through my consulting work and the new interdisciplinary shared platform Scaffold, I have spent the past 18 months working with increasing numbers of Indigenous artists. For the past year, I have worked with the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance (IPAA) on Indigenising their board governance structures and on leadership coaching with their [executive director] Cole Alvis. I have been working with Raven Spirit Dance, Starr Muranko and Jeanette Kotowich on Scaffold providing them light touch administrative support and coaching.”
And in the future?
“I am moved by stories. I know that story is the foundation of how we learn who we are and how to be in the world. In the past few years, I have had the honour of hearing more stories from the Indigenous populations of the land now called Canada on the continent Turtle Island. Through these stories I woke. I was called to listen to these stories and (with my many years experience in the arts and many privileges afforded to me by how I look and how I was raised) to ask how I can serve these stories. I am working on how to use my privilege, passing, and complicity in this place to shift understanding and negotiate barriers so that my peers see those who are excluded from the systems we so easily access and see the points of exclusion we are all complicit in creating.
It is a very interesting time for Indigenous artists. The public reaction to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, discussions in theatre about diversity and inclusion, dialogues and changes at the Canada Council for the Arts and the NAC’s recent announcement to launch Indigenous Theatre all signal a groundswell in interest in Indigenous art in Canada. As a settler, I am cautious about the idea of engaging with IPAA or the Indigenous artists within its Community of Artists [membership]. I want to engage with my settler peers, individuals and organizations, about how to be on this land and with the peoples we interact with. I want us to work together to be highly conscious of the exchanges we are having with Indigenous populations. As a community, I want us to be clear with ourselves about our interactions with Indigenous artists. Be aware of what we are receiving from these exchanges and be ever more aware of what we are giving. We, as settlers, have so much to gain from the knowledges of these Indigenous peoples. Knowledges the systems we benefit from have, and still, work actively to quell. We have so much to offer and to relinquish. I want to live in a land where all peoples have self-determination. I believe supporting that may require relinquishing power, influence and comfort. I am interested in the cracks, gaps and erosions, through those we connect everything, as there is enough.”