CALL FOR COLLABORATORS: This so-called reclaimed land has lain bone dry

This so-called reclaimed land has lain bone dry
                                      What happens after “reclamation”?


Call for Collaborators: “This so-called reclaimed land.”
acilitated by Marina Fathalla

We invite artists, researchers, writers, and creatives across disciplines to collaborate in a recorded conversation which will culminate in an audio project presented with Trinity Square Video. The audio project is based on the histories and legacy of Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve (Heritage Site). Seeking artists with a keen interest in wildflowers; including examining their histories, medicinal properties etc.; talking about the legacies of naturalism and colonialism in Ontario.

I’m approaching this project from the position of a first generation Egyptian immigrant settler/tourist/uninvited guest living and working on ancestral and traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabewaki, and Mississaugas of the New Credit. As someone whose artistic practice is based in architecture and land-based research I think it’s important to consider my relationship with the land and to Indigenous peoples as an integral part of each project and as an on-going evolving practice. I especially encourage proposals from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) participants interested in exploring ideas of settlerhood together.

Deadline for letters of interest: 26 October 2020
Email: [email protected] with the subject line “This so-called reclaimed land”
Project dates: arranged with each participant

Participants will be paid an honorarium of $300 in accordance with IMAA (Independent Media Arts Alliance) for their collaboration.

From Todmorden Mills, A Human and Natural History: “Attitudes were changing. The forests were gone, the river was one of the most polluted in Canada, and the city was growing –citizens were looking for pleasant places close to home to spend their leisure hours” [my emphasis].

In this project, I’m looking back to 1990-91 to rediscover the legacy of revitalization at the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve. At that time, renowned environmentalist Charles Sauriol was proposing the creation of the preserve and much of the available documentation about environmental development was written and published by Ontario Field Naturalists.Reclamation included cleaning out the garbage thrown on the site in the fifties; replanting native shrubs, trees, and wildflowers. Revisiting this moment allows me to take a step back to what I’ve “missed” as I didn’t have a politicized childhood, and wasn’t connected to the history of the stewards of the land before our arrival. Themes of leisure, the economy of nature walks and heritage sites, the legacy of naturalism and placing these into a larger ecology is the focus of the research. In these exchanges I’m interested in revisiting these legacies together, and placing ourselves within their web, but I’m also especially motivated to carve space to connect with others by sharing slow intimacies with the landscape, especially at a time when we’re connecting with it remotely and moving into winter.

Ideas and questions to consider, but not limited to: 

  • Leisure conflating with tourism 
  • Between leisure and survival 
  • Nature walks 
  • Economies of the heritage site
  • Naturalism and protected sanctuaries disconnected from Indigenous governance, community and economic disparity
  • Connecting to the landscape as a racialized settler 
  • Personal connections to flora and fauna at the Wildflower Preserve 
  • Native flora perceived as ‘weeds’
  • Endangered rare flora “at risk of theft” 
  • Tracing and learning about the seasonal timing of flora  
  • Medicinal and healing properties of flora and fauna 
  • Reading/discussing archival exchange of letters to revitalize the site 


What are the nuanced relationships that racialized communities have with heritage as settlers of color? Where might be the feeling of (dis)connection?

What kind of facets and identities do we occupy within the material economies of heritage? (including tourism, nature walks, museum tours?

What personal, intimate connections can we draw between ourselves and the emotive and medicinal properties of native flora?

How does tourism (and naturalism) fit into the fabric of heritage sites as colonial projects?

What happens after reclamation?


Given the focus of the project and to further break the binary of settlerhoods more often between Indigenous peoples and White settlers, priority will be given to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) applicants.

Description of Collaboration

Estimated length of recorded conversation: 8-10mins

The approach to this conversation is very collaborative. Using the framework and questions above as a starting point, we can decide together which points to focus on based on current interests, thoughts and musings. The goal is to have a mutual exchange of ideas and knowledge-sharing. First we can get to know each other’s interests and collaborate on an outline via e-mail. Once an outline is created for our conversation, we can set up a time to meet virtually. There’s flexibility to the length of the conversation, which I’ve estimated at 8-10 mins.

Letters of Interest

You are invited to submit your ideas, thoughts, questions, and musings via email directly to Marina Fathalla, [email protected].

What is helpful to include in your email:

  Your interest in the topic/questions outlined above
  A bit about yourself and your practice
  Confirm your availability to contribute to this project and commitment to one date for recording in November.

Formats that are welcomed:

  Video or audio file
  Traditional text

We want to work with you to make your participation possible. If there’s anything we can facilitate to help you participate more fully and comfortably in this collaboration, please don’t hesitate to let us know at [email protected] or [email protected].



Marina Fathalla is a multidisciplinary artist and educator who grew up alongside the Credit River on the ancestral territories of the Haudenosaunee, Attiwonderonk, Anishinaabewaki, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit.

She is currently working on Counter Narratives with Koffler Education. The project is an educational initiative geared to high school students that counteracts the dominance of Western/euro-centric arts education in schools. In 2019, she worked on the project Home Made Visible at the Regent Park Film Festival where she interviewed participants about their submitted home movie footage documenting and preserving footage from Indigenous people and Visible Minorities in Canada.

Her research projects are fueled by a particular sensitivity to site, at the intersection of its poetics and its politics. Sometimes motivated by her position within the Egyptian diaspora in Canada, her research looks to history of land between site specific engagement, archival representation, and shared narratives. She’s interested in working collaboratively with other artists and is a collective member of MICE Magazine. Her work was shown at Hearth Garage, with the City of Mississauga and Small Arms in Inspection Building, Trinity Square Video and Xpace Cultural Centre.