Canadian Art: We Lost an Entire Generation

Featured Image: René Highway, New Song… New Dance, 1982/88. Archival photograph, 15.7 x 23.4 cm. Courtesy Frank Lennon/Toronto Star/Getty Images.

Within the borders of Canada, Indigenous peoples are currently facing an AIDS crisis, and represent the highest statistics per capita of HIV-positive individuals and those experiencing low CD4 levels associated with AIDS. Yet Indigenous peoples remain ghettoized within, and largely absent from, what we consider to be AIDS art. The decimation of our communities experienced at the height of the AIDS crisis is a contributing factor to Indigenous erasure in AIDS art. Jolene Rickard once tearfully told me, “When you lived in New York [in the 1980s and 1990s], you just lost so many friends.” A participant in the online art project by Paul Lang, Archer Pechawis and Lorna Boschman, BigRedDice, corroborates, giving a greater sense of the devastating impact: “Not many people realize that we lost an entire generation.”

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