Melanie Monique Rose: Indigenous Survivance & Solidarity

The Flower People: new works by Melanie Monique Rose  Hague Gallery at Creative City Centre  On view until June 18, 2016 20160513_202507Melanie Monique Rose is a flower person. It is in her roots, heart and spirit. Rose’s art is influenced by her Prairie upbringing and her connections with both her Métis and Ukrainian heritage. She draws significant inspiration from Ukrainian folk art and traditional dress. Also, from ‘The Flower People’ – a name given to the Métis whom are well known for their floral beadwork. Personal, cultural and universal symbolism is woven into the fabric of Rose’s work with an emphasis on movement, colour and narrative. Traditional and contemporary themes, with a focus on authenticity are central in her aesthetics. The slow, process orientated execution of felting becomes meditative and at times acts as a prayer to her family and community. Rose’s most recent works are to her personal acts of Indigenous Survivance & Solidarity, which have made her critically look at how she tells her story as an active Indigenous presence in the world today. Indigenous Survivance & Solidarity Blanket A blanket provides warmth and security. It suggests the comforts of home, family and love. My Grandmother — Olive Rose created an heirloom blanket just before her passing which included images of her seven children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. This blanket has a spirit. It tells stories. It is nothing short of precious and will serve as a marker in time for my family’s collective histories. Yafa Jarrar, my sister (in law) is on this blanket. On August 20, 2014 in Yafa’s family home, an invading force of 50 occupation Israeli soldiers gave an order to expel her mother, Khalida Jarrar from her Ramallah home and Indigenous Lands. Jarrar bravely responded with, “You, the occupation, are killing our Palestinian people. You practice mass arrests, demolish homes, kidnap people from their homes and deport them. It is you who must leave our home.” Jarrar refused the order and set up a permanent protest and solidarity tent outside the Palestinian Legislative Council building. The news of this deeply disturbed me – my heart sank into my chest — the grotesque invasiveness and violation of home and sanctuary was deplorable and frightening. I wanted to do something. I chose to create a blanket in honour and solidarity with Khalida Jarrar. I imagined that I could send the blanket to her — keep her warm in the tent…that had prayers in it… messages of survivance, solidarity and justice… of protection and love.

On September 16, 2014 and unprecedented victory was had for Jarrar, her family and the Palestinian people. With help from thousands of people at home and internationally the expulsion was lifted. Once again on April 2, 2015 dozens of Israeli occupation forces raided the Jarrar household. With Khalida’s husband locked in another room, she was taken from her home and arrested by Israeli forces. Khalida Jarrar is being held in prison without charge or trial and without providing any reasons to continue to imprison her — as well as denying her bail. Now her daughter’s Yafa & Suha Jarrar speak for her — she will not be silenced and truth will prevail. That night of Khalida’s arrest I was preparing for a group coming to see an exhibition titled, Moving Forward, Never Forgetting. My role in this art show was that of a StoryKeeper. I found out about Khalida’s arrest minutes before receiving this group of people, which included survivors of Indian Residential Schools. It is relevant to note that First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples share very real histories in common with the Palestinian people. Legacies of displacement and expulsion, forced assimilation, imperialism, colonial occupation, and denial of the rights of indigenous peoples plague our collective past and present. I knew I had to be strong for my guests. At the end of our tour we shared in a circle around a piece of artwork, which gives off the warmth of a campfire. Stories were shared, painful at times, hopeful and empowering. I told my new friends what had just happened. What only can be described as a sort of magic happened in that circle. That night we prayed for everyone — to the broken hearted, the imprisoned, to all of those who needed to share their stories to move forward — some that may never be heard. As an act of Indigenous Survivance & Solidarity, I started this blanket. In continuation of this act, others will be invited to share their stories of survivance and solidarity. From Treaty 4 territory on Turtle Island – from my heart to Khalida and to all political prisoners who fight for truth and justice – for all Indigenous Peoples who fight or their right to live and prosper on their land with their families and loved ones – I dedicate my prayers to you.

. Melanie Monique Rose .

At the time of writing, Khalida Jarrar, Mother, Wife, Palestinian leftist parliamentarian, feminist, board member of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association was serving a 15 month sentence in Israeli prisons. During her time in prison, Jarrar taught and supervised  young political prisoners to help them get their high school education while incarcerated.

On June 3, 2016 Khalida Jarrar was released from prison — reportedly due to prison overcrowding — one month short of her 15 month sentence. Read more…


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