Humberto Vélez
The Awakening // Giigozhkozimin

“This is a call for The Awakening,

This is a call for Unity,

This is a call for the Future”


An art ceremony by

Humberto Vélez

Saturday May 14, 2011

Curated by

Emelie Chhangur

In collaboration with

The Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation


The Monkey Vault Parkour Artists

With the participation of

New Credit Youth Council


AGO Youth Council

With the collaboration of artists

Tecumseh Collective First Nations Community Organization

Cotee Harper (Choreography)

Theo McGregor (Musical Director)

Rebecca Baird (Design and Regalia)

Phil Cote (Design and Clan Advisor)


The Monkey Vault

Dan Iaboni (Choreography)


Elder Garry Sault as the Officiant of the Ceremony

Philip Cote as Master of Ceremonies

Music by Theo McGregor

Drum Circle and Singers

Choreography and Dance by Cotee Harper as the Fire Spirit

Grass Dancer Dan Secord

Jingle Dancer Cheryl Trudeau

Choreography of Urban Runners by Dan Iaboni

Members of the Monkey Vault Gym as the Free Runner Spirits

The Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Community

A project by the


Staged at


Walker Court

Gathering and Procession on front steps of Grange House begins at 4:00 pm

Preparation of Ceremony in Walker Court begins at 4:00 pm

Arrival of Procession and Ceremony begins at 4:30 pm


The Awakening takes it cue from Métis leader Louis Riel’s famous 1885 quotation, “My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” The Awakening calls to the people of Toronto to awake to a new spirit fire. It calls to the spirits to awake again in response to this new ceremony, a ceremony created in the present as art but that brings the traditional and contemporary together in bringing together Toronto’s original inhabitants, today’s urban youth, and new Canadians. In creating a new ceremony as contemporary art, we look to the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation in order learn from their traditions of respect, their art of music and dance, and their joining of generations.

Calling to our ancestors, we light a new fire for future generations to help us move forward together, united as Canadians.

The Awakening is a collaboration between the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and Toronto’s Urban Runners (parkours) from the Monkey Vault Gym, with the participation of the Youth Councils of the New Credit First Nation and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Through a series of workshops, the collaborators learned from one another’s disciplines and traditions and, together with the two Youth Councils, have built strength to storm the heart of the symbolic centre of Toronto’s visual culture (and power)—the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Walker Court—and to reclaim it for the Mississaugas and urban youth of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Commissioned by the AGYU and three years in the making through residencies in 2009, 2010, and 2011, The Awakening is the culmination of a sustained relationship between Panamanian artist Humberto Vélez and the people of Toronto and surrounding area. In posing questions to Torontonians about their city, he found an avoidance of talk of our first peoples when at the same time he was openly welcomed by First Nations in a Pipe Ceremony in Northern Ontario. In Toronto’s Urban Runners, who are from many different cultural backgrounds, he found a way of navigating the city and a philosophy of respect not unlike First Nations culture. This formed the basis of the collaboration and the beginning of an unsettling of our stereotypes that First Nations are only traditional and urban runners are just urban misfits. He recognized that both have been overlooked and dismissed, albeit by different circumstances and for different reasons. Through the workshops, Urban Runners and First Nations’ musicians and dancers have come together, working with dancer Cotee Harper and musician Theo McGregor, to mix traditional and contemporary practices: leading to the awakening of a new spirit for future generations. Working together, we can value each others’ contributions to this place. We welcome you into this circle of new cultures mixing. This ceremony is dedicated to the awakening of the eighth fire. – Emelie Chhangur, 2011


From the Monkey Vault Gym Dan Iaboni, Shawn D’Souza, Stephen Ling, Max Lee Fox Stussi, Curtis Randolph, Stan Silantev, Mandy Lam, Gerald Situ, Patrick de Perio, Simon Jackson, Leslye So, Gerome Wilson.

New Credit Youth Council for The Awakening: Mya King-Green, Raini King-Green, Minga King-Green, Toni Green, Mark Green, Cathy King-Jamieson, Rachel King-Jamieson, Tyrell King, Falcon King, Lauren King, Clarice King.

Special thank you to the dynamic community leaders at the New Credit First Nation: Carolyn King, Valerie King-Green, Veronica Jamieson, Faith Rivers, Karl King, Dan Secord, Garry Sault, Tina Sault, Stace LaForme, “Double K,” and all the Band Council members.

AGO Youth Council for The Awakening: Rina Kang, Natalia Gamaley, Claire Peng, Phat Le, Camille Rojas, Rachel Wong, Visien Li, Erin Liu, Jason Kung, Dasha Kuznetsova, Kira Xue, Mary Chiu, Marco Hernandez, Joanna Decc, Hailen Xu, Doris Isabel Pozo, Sophie Keresztessy, Sofia Ludwig, John Williamson, Larissa Sequeira, Maia Desjardins.

Special thank you to AGO staff, Syrus Marcus Ware, Michelle Jacques, Keri Ryan, and Matthew Teitelbaum.

Much gratitude to the entire staff at AGYU: Philip Monk, Emelie Chhangur, Suzanne Carte-Blanchenot, Michael Maranda, Allyson Adley, and Karen Pellegrino.

Humberto Vélez: Aesthetics of Collaboration, a retrospective of the past decade his participatory performance work is currently on view at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) until June 26, 2011.

The Awakening is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts: Artists and Community Collaboration Grant, the Ontario Arts Council: Aboriginal Arts Projects Grant, the Hal Jackman Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council Investment Fund. Special thank you to the AGO.