Society

Taking her place

For the next five years, the Ryerson University Library will display a 10-by-15.7-foot portrait of Anishinaabekwe Tee Lyn Duke in her traditional regalia

Kwandibens (left) and Tee Lyn Duke beside the installation of Kwandibens’ work on Ryerson campus (Stef & Ethan)

Kwandibens (left) and Tee Lyn Duke beside the installation of Kwandibens’ work on Ryerson campus (Stef & Ethan)

Beginning this fall, and continuing through the next five years, the Ryerson University Library will display a 10-by-15.7-foot portrait of Anishinaabekwe Tee Lyn Duke in her traditional regalia as she rides the Toronto subway to dance troupe practice. The image is part of photographer Nadya Kwandibens’s 2008 series Concrete Indians; the theme is “decolonization and re-invoking that sense of belonging within our own people,” she says. “Some of our people are still trying to find that.” During a summer of protests against racial injustice, activists signed petitions to remove the statue of Egerton Ryerson on campus because he helped establish Canada’s residential school system. The statue remains, but Kwandibens says she’s hopeful: “Decolonization is an ongoing process.” Fitting, then, that her piece faces students, whom she believes are the ones leading the charge. “It feels like the next generations will have that conviction and that strength,” she says.

Portrait of Tee Lyn Duke from Kwandibens' "Concrete Indians" series. The image is now on display at Ryerson University. (Nadya Kwandibens/Red Works Photography)

Portrait of Tee Lyn Duke from Kwandibens’ “Concrete Indians” series. The image is now on display at Ryerson University. (Nadya Kwandibens/Red Works Photography)