Wednesday, 18 April 2012

T'Uy'Tanat, Cease Wyss

Cease Wyss is a wondrous multidisciplinary artist-activist, whose work has taken her across the sea, up and down mountains, and all around the intermingling city-forest-water-land. The great range of her activities can only be touched on and suggested here, as well as elsewhere in these pages,* but rest assured, she is a part of the fabric of our being in this region.

I found no footage of the wondrous Betty Rebel 67 MC, or deets re Ceasefire Productions, but below are two samples of her work as illustrator, Squamish People of the Sunset Coast by Barbara Wyss, plus bios, videos and reviews. Enjoy the sampling!

T’ Uy’ Tanat-Cease Wyss – Skwxw’ u7mesh Nation Ethnobotanist, media artist, educator, and activist.  Food Security has been the leading force of Cease’ s life journey. She has witnessed, as a child, her family being robbed of their salmon from DFO, as well as the police, and has stood up with other Indigenous Peoples, to fight for native peoples’ rights to hunt, gather, and fish in their traditional territories. Community Gardening and Community Kitchens have become the contemporary common grounds to fight for healthy foods and food systems, and traditional foods and medicines being brought back to the people. Cease has been actively gardening throughout her entire life, and attributes her gardening skills to her family. Her father is a master gardener, as were her Nahanee family ancestors, who started a farm near Stanley Park at the turn of the century, which was once called Kanaka Ranch. This was located at Coal Harbour. (Centering the Tangent Community Gathering, 2011)
Cease works collaboratively through writing, producing, directing and mentoring communities and individuals. Her short films, installations and performances includes the Talking Poles (2008) for the Surrey public art collection and Soul Gardens (2011) with W2 community Media Arts. Cease was a recipient of the 2010 Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Awards for Studio Arts for Film & New Media. (Alternator Gallery/Ullus Collective)
Down2Earth, APTN

Video Premiere
Saturday November 3, 12pm – 2:30pm
Carnegie Community Centre Theatre

Addiction happens in all communities and social classes: it is everyone’s problem – a symptom of larger social challenges and issues. We all have a part in this story. In Bringing Shadows Into Light, filmmaker Cease Wyss takes us on a community’s journey to face today’s growing tidal wave of addiction. Along the way, she encounters the creativity, talent, courage and humanity of the unique inner city community of the Downtown Eastside. For over two years, hundreds of people from different backgrounds and cultures shared stories and images to help create a giant-screen shadow play. Directors, composers, designers and over seventy Downtown Eastside involved artists and residents joined this journey into the shadows, to shed light on the roots of addiction and recovery. Before the screening of the documentary, Aline Lafleme and Daughters of the Drum will sing a song to honour Cease Wyss and her work. A Squamish media artist, educator, curator and activist whose work weaves itself thorough a variety of communities, Cease was assisted in the project by editing and story consultant Patty Fraser. The screening will be followed by archival footage of We’re All In This Together: The Shadows Project. Discussion to follow, the filmmaker will be in attendance. Presented in cooperation with Cease Fire Productions, the Roundhouse Community Centre and Vancouver Moving Theatre. Free~
Plunder of the Planet presentation, April 2012 (19min:40sec)
VIFF, Parenting in the Canadian Images, film one:
The first film presented, and the one that I came out to see, was called Indigenous Plant Diva, by a young filmmaker (and young mother) Kamala Todd.  Clear, beautiful, fast-paced images of the city weave a picture of where we are, those of us inhabiting the sprawling urban spaces of the world, in a way that refreshes the jaded eye and renews the vision.  Buildings and passageways in various stages of decay are the ground from which our grandmothers, the plants, sing out and call to us in passing.  Wild spaces, community gardens, roadsides and alleyways, brick walls and backyards, the flourishing presence of the plants of the city is first established, and then explored.

Our guide is T'Uy'Tanat, Cease Wyss, who shares some herbal lore and sets the context of our living together here on the west coast in Salish territories, who acknowledges the joy of passing on her way of knowing and living to her daughter, in a way that feels like a surprise, an unexpected gift.  Cease discusses her name, T'Uy'Tanat, and her mixed ancestry which embraces and connects her to all people. She introduces some specific plants, and some specific knowledge about native plants generally, and their healing properties. The focus is on listening, looking, touching, coming to know: the plants will tell you what they are good for.  She smiles, too, she smiles a lot. There is so much smiling going on, I wonder about it the next day, what is the filmmaker trying to say by showing me so very many images of Cease Wyss smiling? 

What is the impact, I ask myself?

Well, I feel comforted.  I feel good. Seeing so many images of Cease Wyss smiling in so many urban situations, looking relaxed, looking at home, following on all of those images of the plants and the city, holds a message for me: she is smiling in context, and it is a context that I also share.  And so, I realize, the gift of the film Indigenous Plant Diva is restoring a sense of safety and "at homeness" to me and to a lot of people like me.  Indigenous Plant Diva is delivering an antidote, in a fast-paced whirlwind ten minute inoculation: the rocks are my grandfathers, the plants are my grandmothers, and I am at home.

deep thanks to kamala for a beautiful medicinal film, healing tea for the mouths of our minds & hearts
~Joanne, storytellersplayspace, 2008 
illustration from Squamish People of the Sunset Coast

  see also

A harvest of healing

Sources & Notes:
*previous appearances on this blog include: Picto Prophecy, Wil George, Salish Seas-related posts (video here), and "K'Ayatcht'N!"
~W2 Soul Gardens Long Table First Nations Dinner: AHA Media, April Smith:  Uploaded by on Aug 2, 2011: 
-interview with Cease Wyss,
-Wes Nahanee & Cease Wyss, Snowbird,

-bios from Centering the Tangent blog,

+ Picto Prophecy Project/Ullus Collective info, Alternator Centre website

~Squamish People of the Sunset Coast cover image
+ illustration (book review)
More info here:

~Down2Earth is a new environmental series that is broadcast on Canada's Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). The series features Indigenous people from across Canada and around the globe who are using traditional knowledge and contemporary training to find solutions to environmental issues that are affecting their communities and territories. Down2Earth features stunning HD visuals of the world's natural environments and engaging and informative conversations with Indigenous guests. Uploaded by on Jul 7, 2010
~film by Cease Wyss, Bringing Shadows Into the Light,

~Cease Wyss speaks on the Plunder of the Planet: the Ecological Crisis panel at the Tragedy of the Market: from Crisis to Commons conference on January 8, 2012 in Burnaby BC Canada. Published on Apr 3, 2012 by ,

~film about Cease Wyss, Indigenous Plant Diva review, my archives. Written & directed by Kamala Todd, full film credits here: 
~A harvest of healing, Erin McPhee, North Shore News:

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