Watching “The ancestors are meeting because we have met,” it seemed as though time, silence, and hesitation created these multi-dimensional pathways for relationship. Can you speak to what you felt in those moments of listening and communicating?

I love this question, and appreciate the opportunity to go back to the work, which was created in collaboration with Katherine Takpannie, an Ottawa based Inuk artist and dear friend of mine, in a way that touches on elements of it I’m only coming to see in hindsight. In a way, there are aspects of how this work would speak to and draw attention to hesitation as a generative form of affect that I had envisioned when it was first conceptualized.

I wanted the moments of hesitation when we struggled to find the words to say in our native tongues - struggled even to repeat the translations shared with us by our parents - to speak not only to the colonial violence that has deprived us of our ability to know our mother tongues, to speak them fluently; I wanted those moments of hesitation to also point to an opening, a possibility of making the world anew by reclaiming these languages that have resisted destruction, that were never rendered obsolete and remain ours to learn and breathe life into once more.

I wish I had listened more they spoke Inuktitut and thought through the differences between it and Igbo

What surprised me, however, was my own discomfort with silence, my tendency to jump ahead and attempt to fill empty space with words. I see this, in particular, in contrast with Katherine, a difference, I believe, that belies cultural difference in a way that is so subtle at times but became readily apparent to me in re-watching the scenes. I know much of it can be chalked up to nerves—we were filming in front of a crew, so it was actually quite nerve-wracking at times—but part of me wishes I had slowed down a bit more. That I had sat in those moments of silence and contemplation for just a second longer. That I had let the words and translations sit on my tongue for longer, let them melt and savoured them as they were—foreign but familiar, new and ancestral. I wish I had listened more intently to Katherine and her parental figure as they spoke Inuktitut and thought through the differences between it and Igbo. There are so many things I have left to think about, including around silence—I know I am only just beginning to parse through what this all means.