Miranda Jimmy invites everyone to walk in her shoes in the figurative sense. You can do so by looking at a photo of her shoes and listening to her story. Then you can look at 11 other photos and hear 11 other stories at the St. Albert Public Library until the end of the month.
Jimmy, the organizer behind Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton (RISEdmonton), hopes to open up a conversation with the public about the Indigenous experience. That’s what the Walk With Me exhibit in Forsyth Hall is all about. It’s a series of photos of the lower limbs of 12 different people from the Metro Edmonton area, each accompanied by a written description of their responses to one question:
“What does it mean to be Indigenous in Edmonton?” Jimmy said.
The idea for the project, she explained, came from a CBC story during the European migrant crisis. Someone had created an installation of 100 pairs of shoes in a public square in Paris. At each pair of shoes, there was a headset where people could listen to the story of the migrant to whom the shoes belonged.
Just like the shoes being depicted in Walk With Me, every person’s story is different and often surprising. The idea was to challenge stereotypes around Indigenous people so the subjects come from all walks of life.
“We’ve got people that have struggled on and off the street right up to people with PhDs and academics that are world-renowned, and then everyday people, working-class people. There’s a good mix.”
There are elders and students among the mix, plus Jimmy is one of them, too.
“Their experiences in being citizens in our community are all very different. The level of racism or challenges they’ve had in their cultural identity are all different. I think it’s important that people understand that it’s especially when we start using this broad word like Indigenous that it's not one experience and that there's multiple facets to it.”
One woman’s recording talks about her life as a survivor of a residential school.
“No one really talked about this, all the residential school abuse, until it started coming out. They had forms we had to fill out. This was where all the memory or everything came back … triggers. That’s the first trigger that everyone got. It was all kept in what I would call a ‘black box.’ Everyone kept that for so many years,” she said.
The exhibit was created using the green screen in the Edmonton Public Library’s Makerspace. It has travelled to the Morinville Community Library and Bellerose High School. It will be on display in the St. Albert library until Sunday, March 31. People can also listen to the stories through a SoundCloud link found on the organization’s website at www.risedmonton.ca.