A year ago the Graphic History Collective (GHC) officially launched Remember| Resist | Redraw: A Radical History Poster Project.
Our goal was to initiate and curate a year-long artistic intervention in the Canada 150 conversation that would see the release of a new radical history poster, with an accompanying essay each month.
With only a few days of Canada 150 left, we wanted to look back on a successful year of “remembering,” “resisting,” and “redrawing.”
RRR’s introductory poster, featuring art by Kara Sievewright and words by sociologist Gary Kinsman, laid out our rationale for the project:
Why a radical history poster project? Why now? We live at a time when it is increasingly difficult for people to dream of a better world, let alone act collectively to build one. But that is exactly what we must do. We need to organize. We need to resist. We need to win. Art and an awareness of activist history can help fuel our radical imaginations.
We agree with queer activist and historian Gary Kinsman when he argues that “to develop our radical imagination, we need to work against the systemic social organization of forgetting, and a necessary antidote to the social organization of forgetting is the resistance of remembering.” For us, radical history is an act of remembering as resistance, be it showcasing hidden histories of the oppressed and marginalized or offering alternative perspectives on well-known historical actors and events.
Our objective was to create a series of accessible radical history posters that can serve as a resource for activists to lean on and learn from as they struggle to bring about radical social transformation.
We were not sure if we could actually pull off 12 different collaborations with a diverse network of artists, activists, and academics, or how people would respond, but we did, and people have enthusiastically embraced the project.
Here is the full list of posters, available for free download on our website (for activist, educational, and personal use):
RRR 00 – “Introducing…Remember | Resist | Redraw,” poster by Kara Sievewright, introduction by the Graphic History Collective.
RRR 01 – “Our Land: 150 Years of Colonialism,” poster and introduction by Lianne Marie Leda Charlie.
RRR 02 – “‘She Screamed Violently and Made Resistance’: Chloe Cooley and Slavery in Canada,” poster by Naomi Moyer, introduction by Funké Aladejebi.
RRR 03 – “150+ years of Racialized Caregiving Work in Canada,” poster by Kwentong Bayan Collective, introduction by Ethel Tungohan.
RRR 04 – “The 1837–1838 Rebellion: Consolidating Settler Colonialism in Canada,” poster by Orion Keresztesi, introduction by Jarett Henderson.
RRR 05 – “The Dance of Decolonial Love” poster by Indigenous artist who wishes to be anonymous, introduction/poem by Erica Violet Lee.
RRR 06 – “Pride Has Always Been Political,” poster by Kara Sievewright, introduction by Gary Kinsman.
RRR 07 – “Killing the Indian in the Child: John A. Macdonald’s Role in Residential Schooling,” poster by Sean Carleton, introduction by Crystal Fraser.
RRR 08 – “When Canada Opened Fire on My Kokum Marianne with a Gatling Gun,” poster by Jerry Thistle, introduction by Jesse Thistle.
RRR 09 – “Ts’Peten 1995,” poster and introduction by Gord Hill.
RRR 10 – “Remembering the 75th Anniversary of Japanese Canadian Internment,” poster by Christopher Robertson, introduction by Lorene Oikawa.
RRR 11 – “The Most Dangerous Woman in the World Lived in Canada,” poster and essay by David Lester.
RRR 12 – “Sacred Rivers Within/Le fleuve sacré intérieur,” poster and introduction by Fanny “Aïshaa.”
Since January 2017, we have witnessed an overwhelming—and humbling—response to the project. Here are just a few of the highlights:
CBC interviewed Lianne Charlie and GHC member Sean Carleton about Remember | Resist | Redraw and the first poster that criticized Yukon land claim treaties.
- Maclean’s mentioned the project alongside Kent Monkman’s Shame and Prejudice as creating space for Indigenous artists to rebrand Canada 150.
- We held two exhibitions of RRR posters at Mount Royal University.
Sean Carleton and Crystal Fraser’s poster on John A. Macdonald helped spark a national conversation about the legacy of Canada’s first prime minister. Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario credited the poster as one of the sources that inspired their motion calling on school boards to rename building and schools named after Sir John A. Macdonald.
GHC members Robin and Kara presented on RRR and taught a radical history poster making workshop at the Sketching in Practice Symposium
- RRR posters were featured in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s “First Thursday” event.
- Chatelaine profiled Lianne Charlie’s contribution to RRR in their “Resistance 150” piece.
Erica Violet Lee’s poster was included in RRR contributor Crystal Fraser and Sara Komarnisky’s 150 Acts of Reconciliation for the Last 150 Days of Canada 150. The 150 Acts of Reconciliation poster was designed by RRR contributor Lianne Charlie.
Rabble.ca showcased RRR.
- The GHC talked to Talking Radical Radio.
- In August, the GHC participated in the Beyond 150: Telling Our Stories Twitter Conference.
- We partnered with the websites Active History, HistoireEngagée, and Canadian Dimension to showcase the posters online.
- We made Unwritten History’s 2017 Year in Review list
- On December 28, 2017 RRR was profiled in an article on CBC and on “The World at 6” (radio, clip starts at 23:15) and CBC broadcasts (TV) across the country (clips starts at 13:50).
We are heartened by all of the attention that the posters have received. It shows that people want to have challenging conversations about history.
Moreover, we have enjoyed working with and learning from the incredibly talented artists, activists, and academics who have contributed to the project. Changing the world, like art, is a fiercely collaborative project, and we like it that way!
Although Canada 150 is almost over, we envisioned RRR as something that would continue beyond this year. To that end, stay tuned for a special announcement in 2018!
For now, we thank everyone for their support over the past twelve months and wish you all a happy new year. Keep on remembering, resisting, and redrawing the world with an eye to changing it for the better!
In love and solidarity,
*Note: Remember | Resist | Redraw, of course, was only one of many initiatives during Canada 150. For some of our favourites see:
- Kent Monkman’sShame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience
- Colonialism 150, designed by Eric Ritskes
- @Resistance150 (on Twitter)
- Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 of Betrayal