The Deanery Project is a not-for-profit organization with a focus on the environment, the arts, youth and community, natural building and permaculture. It offers programs related to energy, forests, health, active transportation and rural living. NAT’s sculptures are outdoors, on the grounds of the Deanery and can be viewed at any time, see NAT’s directions below. If you wish to see inside the buildings the Opening Hours of The Deanery Project are Tues-Sat 10-5, Closed Sun/Mon.
In NAT's words: There are three access points to Recalling Mourning. The Field, the Woods and the Water.
The Field: In the open, grassy field at the Deanery, move towards the right, you will meet two nested sculptures or “sound wells.” These are accessible to all bodies who wish to welcome themselves on the land. Trace the shapes with your own movements. Sound into the land. Recall Your Own Voice.
The Woods: Along the wooded edge of the parking area, move down four steps leading to the nature trail. Walk forward until you meet a slight bend. Turn right. Move through Fern lane (the path of ferns), follow the sign “Nature Trail.” Rocks will be under your feet. Pass the uprooted tree. Acknowledge the Tree Nursery nested on the right. Step forward. Another Nature Trail sign will be on the left of the path. Turn right (close to the tree nursery.) Walk forward. Keep to the right, there is a slight winding around a Spruce tree. You can enter the space on either side.
In front of a tall yellow birch, a community of nested sculptures rest. Walk slowly around each. Give sound as you move. Pause. Become still. Breathe. Listen to the land. Call any sounds into the nests. Your voice is protected. Release everything. Cry. Scream. Speak. Sit in nature’s sound. Meet yourself in the silence, there is sound there too.
**Note, this space is home to a rare plant called ghost-pipe, which is supportive to healing pain. Please step forward with intention. Go slowly to see.
The Water: From the grassy field, move down the Coastal Path leading to the water. One nested sculpture is visible on the left. Move slowly around it. Make Sound. Sit with the Land. Welcome Your Voice. Return to the water.
A Collaborative Beginning: Lead your way through the Nature Trail, across the road, move forward on the mossy forest’s path. In the far reaches of the trail, a nest holds council with a tree. This is the first joined offering created by the Artist, and a friend of the Deanery. We stand together with the Land; who remains in collaborative voice.
Recalling Mourning is a collection of nested forms of variable heights, hollowed out from the inside, based on free-fallen branches and roots. These structures are intended to be engaged with by the artist and community to clear stories of the past and invite space for healing through sounding-off and calling into the land.
This nature-based installation is a reflective response to ongoing devastation from generations of people being discarded, displaced, uprooted and silenced. It calls forward our right to live, to breathe, and be of voice. We are all of the land and, just as the earth, we remain here still. These nested shapes are an offering of shelter that protect and hold the energy of our voice and the history of our experiences. In remaining on and of the land, the sculptures become an offering to the land itself and generations of wildlife.
As forms of the earth, these installations will regenerate life back into the earth, maintaining balance to renew energy and offer new life growth, both to the land, and the people who engage, find, and meet the body of this work, and the nature of their own sound.
By calling-in to the land we can release known and unknown trauma that is of our experience, and that of our Ancestors. In sound we honour and remember the inherited strength of our people; the resilient quality and power to persist and be of voice. The land hears our songs long before and after our sound.
NAT chantel is a primarily self-taught artist who engages subtle movement and repetitive processes to revisit memory and personal history as a way to reclaim the body and voice. NAT has a degree in English Literature, she is a Yoga Teacher and Reiki practitioner focusing on energy systems and sound healing. Her practices are rooted in home and belonging. NAT has contributed to panel discussions: Music as Healing with EverySeeker Festival (2020), and How We Build: on Craft and Blackness in partnership with MSVU and Nocturne Festival (2019). She was invited to perform alongside Angel Bat Dawid and New Hermitage at EverySeeker Festival (2020), followed by a collaboration with Jen Yakamovich that same year. In 2020, NAT joined Liliona Quarmyne in Tracing Echoes, a video performance for the Kinetic Studio’s Partnering Apart Series. She has performed at Bleep in the Dark (2019), Black Rabbit (2019) and is a voice in Annie Wong’s A Choir of Demands and Desires on Repeat (2019). NAT has participated in local residencies and Canadian art festivals Ignite the Night and Afterglow, and was chosen as a beacon artist for Nocturne (2019) and the first Indigenous-curated Nocturne festival (2018). She is a member of Black Artists Network of Nova Scotia.
Photo courtesy of Kate Ward
What is environmentalism? What do we mean when we talk about “the environment” here on unceded Mi'kmaq territory? Who defines what's included in that meaning, and what's left out?
For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples around the world have engaged in active environmental stewardship and have protected their land and water. Black communities across Turtle Island have organized against pollution and degradation of their environments for many decades. And yet, the mainstream environmental movement is still predominantly led and defined by white people, and generally fails to recognize the environmental leadership of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC).
The Ecology Action Centre is not an exception here. EAC recognizes that Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities are still underrepresented in our work and our community partnerships, despite years of diversity and inclusion initiatives. As the largest environmental charity in Atlantic Canada, we are uniquely positioned and privileged within the climate justice movement. We have a responsibility to use that position and privilege to lift up front-line voices who have experienced first-hand environmental and social injustices for hundreds of years, and who are also often at the forefront of positive environmental change. It’s long past time to listen, share our platform, and make space for the leadership of BIPOC communities within our environmental movements. The diversity within our communities is a source of strength as we build a united movement for a just and sustainable future.
As a part of this project, and EAC’s ongoing commitment to centering BIPOC perspectives, we created exclusive BIPOC artist commissions where the artists were free to conceive and create on any topic related to environmentalism, climate, conservation, climate justice, etc. that they wanted to address. NAT chantel received one of these.