WELCOME TO THE STRUGGLE: documentary screening at Ryerson School of Image Arts

  • Event

WELCOME TO THE STRUGGLE: documentary screening at Ryerson School of Image Arts

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 19:00 to Thu, 03/21/2019 - 20:45



A documentary film screening for MediaQueer’s “69 Positions” series w/ director Nancy Nicol in attendance


Wed. 20 March, 2019, 7PM

School of Image Arts room IMA 307: 122 Bond Street, Toronto

Toronto luminary Mikiki will facilitate the screening and Q&A with researcher and actor Elwood Jimmy II, and celebrated documentarian Nancy Nicol



You Are on Indian Land (1969, 36min, Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell)

Welcome to Africville (1999, 15, Dana Inkster)

Struggle for Choice: part 1 (1986, 31 min, Nancy Nicol)


MediaQueer thanks our host, School of Image Arts at Ryerson University, which is located in the Dish With One Spoon Treaty Territory. The Dish With One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee establishing a shared territory. We support solidarity with and autonomy for all Indigenous peoples, support we seek to make real in our curation, remuneration, and actions.


L: Freeze-frame from Nancy Nicol’s Struggle for Choice: Part 1
C: Still from Dana Inkster's WELCOME TO AFRICVILLE | R: Still from Kanentaheron Mitchell’s You are on Indian Land

69 Positions: Decriminalization in the queer Canadian archive (1965-1981) is an unapologetically political exhibition and screening series inspired by the 50th anniversary of Omnibus 69, an act of Parliament often considered a watershed of legal progress for (male) homosexuals (in private) and for (the start of) legalized abortion in Canada. We would like to draw attention to a counter-narrative of increased criminalization that was concurrent to this shift: namely, of Indigenous autonomy and dissent; the intensification of anti-Black urban oppression; and the multi-decade political struggles to make abortion a right.

 Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell’s You Are on Indian Land (1969, 36min, NFB) is a prismatic indigenous-made documentary about border control crack-downs and the Kanien’kéhaka protesters who blocked the international bridge between Ontario and New York State in this crucial account of the “other side” of 1969. In the same year, the destruction of the historically Black Halifax neighbourhood was the subject of queer video art maverick Dana Inkster’s Welcome to Africville (1999, 15). To round out the program, prolific Torontonian documentarian and educator Nancy Nicol’s Struggle for Choice: part 1 (1986, 31 min) informs and infers on how Omnibus 69 did not go far enough for women’s bodily autonomy.


Many thanks to Ryerson University's School of Image Arts, the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Archives (ArQuives) and the Canada Council for the Arts for supporting this event and project. Support for venue and technician provided in part by the Archive/Counter-Archive Project out of York University.


69 Positions: Context and “non-text”

“There is no room for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” So said Globe & Mail writer Martin O'Malley in a phrase that would be borrowed by P.E. Trudeau when he announced plans to decriminalize homosexual acts between two men (21 and over) in a sweeping set of legal changes grouped under the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1968-1969. Although it would be decades before the government would apologize for prosecuting and entrapping its own employees and citizens, the 1969 Omnibus remains a watershed moment in the social, political, sexual, and artistic history of this country. Films by Canadian and Québécois artists and documentarians from the years before and after 1969 reveal the world from which this social shift emerged, and how it brought us to where we are now.

To commemorate and problematize the 50th anniversary of this milestone, the Queer Media Database Canada-Québec (hereafter, MEDIAQUEER) has planned an ambitious series of screenings and archival exhibitions entitled “69 Positions: Decriminalization in the Queer Canadian and Quebec Archive” in which we will screen landmark works of film in tandem with archival exhibitions about the history of (and around) this paradigm shift. The 1969 Omnibus Bill reflected the changing mores of the time, but was far from revolutionary. Gay and lesbian activists would soon have to face a dizzying array of challenges from homophobic police forces and the religious right – as shown in Gary Kinsman and Patricia Gentile’s Canada’s War on Queers (UBC Press, 2010), Thomas Waugh’s collection The Fruit Machine (Duke UP, 2000), and the forthcoming research creation/exhibition project “Afterhours at Madame Arthur” (Julianne Pidduck & Julie Podmore, Never Apart, Montréal, July-September, 2019), as well as Pidduck’s “Reading the Multimedia Archive Surrounding Montreal’s Post-War LGBTQ Bars: A Genealogical Return to Madame Arthur and Il était une fois dans l’Est” (Québec Studies, 60).



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