The Liberation of the Chinook Wind, 2021
Tania Willard, Liberation of the Chinook Wind. Commissioned by the Blackwood for The Work of Wind: Air, Land, Sea. Presented at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus, 2021–2024. Programming and web development for Liberation of the Chinook Wind, Stephen Surlin. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.
Asserting Indigenous presence and claims to the water, Liberation of the Chinook Wind conceptualizes points of overlap between Indigenous nations, settlers, uninvited guests, and non-human beings by exploring the entangled histories of Chinook language, Chinook Wind, and Chinook salmon. Chinook salmon were introduced to Lake Ontario by settlers in the 1960s for sport fishing, and to prey on other invasive species. Chinook were preferred for sport fishing because they “fight” and “thrash” on the line; on windsocks at the Collegeway and Outer Circle Road, Willard has emblazoned these words alongside “water” and “claim,” to connect these stories with ongoing Indigenous presence and claims to the water. Chinook jargon was a hybrid of Indigenous and settler languages in the Pacific Northwest. The Chinook Wind is also an animate being in Secwépemc creation story, bringing forth an Indigenous concept of interrelatedness which counteracts our human-centric worlds. In this project, Willard evokes the wind’s agency through poems generated from live weather data.
The poems presented on this website use source material from these entangled histories to affirm Indigenous ways of life and sacred responsibilities, and to gesture to ongoing land claims and land defense, including the current water claim by the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation which asserts their rights to waterways that were not surrendered in treaty.
Daily poems from this website are also displayed on a flatscreen TV at the entrance to the Davis Meeting Place, University of Toronto Mississauga campus.