Illegal: Let Us Live

By Mariel Belanger and Gregory Younging

Illegal: Let Us Live is based around a prose written in three parts, containing quotations on Indigenous law and from throughout Canadian history by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples: Part 1: These Are Our Laws; Let Us Live/ Part 2: Illegal: Let Us Cry; and, Part 3:New Laws, Revelations: Will We Live Again?

Part 1 contains various quotes on Indigenous laws by academics, artists, philosophers, Indigenous legal scholars and Elders who have made valuable contributions to the Indigenous jurisprudence discourses. This section serves to establish Indigenous law as the foundation of Indigenous cultures, societies, and epistemologies. Part 2 contains quotations from the era of colonization (including residential schools) by Canadian politicians, bureaucrats, legislation and laws. This section represents the debasing, denial and attempted elimination of Indigenous peoples and laws. Part 3 is comprised of quotations from the recent era of reconciliation and the multitude of diverse voices that continue to emerge. This section serves to highlight the possibility of decolonization and the re-emergence of Indigenous laws.

The Illegal: Let us Live multi-media performance features a projected film and audio featuring the two artists as they read out the quotations. It is also features one of the artists doing a live performance to accompany the film and audio. Illegal: Let us Live is an historical embodiment challenging the colonial imposition, forced displacement, diaspora and the importance of telling our intergenerational truths and speaking out against genocidal practices and laws. In this performance the artist is the embodiment of Mother Earth, transitioning through the story, as she portrays the thematic tension within ‘belonging’ in contemporary Indigenous relationships to colonial patriarchy. This piece is a challenge; as it calls out for more diverse methods of resistance. This piece speaks to the colonial strategy of denial as it addresses its continuing divide and rule pathologies. In this performance names are named, telling a part of the whole truth that resists being told. //