C&: You are the Founding Director and one of the artistic members of the ongoing project Wood Land School, along with Tanya Lukin Linklater and cheyanne turions. How did this project all start?
Duane Linklater: I started the project Wood Land School in 2011 in my studio located at Nipissing First Nations in northern Ontario. At that time, I was in Graduate School, and despite the lack of public attention to my then work, I really wanted to collaborate with some friends and people I admired. There were five of us in that first exhibition. In addition, the project needed to have a title. At that time, I was doing some research about a group of Indigenous artists who were making work in the 1970s and 80s mostly here in Canada. Although they named themselves the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., they were known publicly as Woodland School of Artists. Inspired by this, I called the project Wood Land School, but only with the distinction that the word is separated into two words. By creating a small space between wood and land, I sought to break apart the ethnographic categorization of eastern Indigenous people in North America. As I’m also very much invested in analyzing and challenging language, their name also made me think, in particular in regards to the use of “School”. In both Canada and in the United States, there is a dark and violent legacy of a schooling system called the residential schools to which Indigenous children were forcibly sent. Until 1996, this educational system was in place in order to assimilate Indigenous people into the mainstream against their will.