The Brown, Black, Fierce Festival focuses on creativity in the face of marginalization


The Brown, Black, Fierce Festival, coming this fall, is going to be one of the most important arts events in Edmonton this year. For and by Indigenous and racialized queer, trans* and two-spirit people, the festival will include a half-day of workshops and an evening of arts performances. The organizing collective is currently seeking submissions (due August 15), and group collaboratively answered questions about the festival, what they are looking for and their wish for Edmonton.

VUE WEEKLY: Tell me about the collective.
BROWN, BLACK, FIERCE FESTIVAL: The Brown, Black, & Fierce collective (comprised of Alex Felicitas, Ruby Diaz Smith, Leila Sidi, Jenni Roberts  and Aurélie Lesueur) is dedicated to centering the experiences and voices of queer, trans* and two-spirit Indigenous people, Black people and people of colour (IBPOC). We are inspired by all the talent and power within IBPOC communities who survive, heal and create every day in the face of much adversity.

VW: What is your vision for the festival?
BBFF: We want to create a space for IBPOC to come together, exchange ideas, be inspired by each other and build allyship among and between our communities.

This festival is extremely important in Edmonton-Amiskwacîwâskahikan given the current context for queer, trans and two-spirit IBPOC communities in the city: Indigenous women go missing without their disappearances being investigated. Hundreds of migrants have been and continue to be deported due to racist changes in Canadian immigration laws creating a system of permanent impermanency. Black and Indigenous youth continue to be profiled and targeted by police violence.

The picture is clear: we are under attack and we need to come together to create solutions made by and for us. As IBPOC, we are all touched by experiences of racism, lateral violence, homophobia and forced assimilation and as such desire self-determination in defending and creating our futures.

No longer will we be underrepresented in Edmonton arts scenes and no longer will we censor our experiences to be palatable for the Canadian “multicultural” narrative.

VW: What kinds of submissions are you looking for?
BBFF: We want people interested in putting together workshops around topics of art and gentrification or appropriation, organizing as IBPOC, making art in white-dominant communities, slam poetry, rap, spoken word, displaced peoples living on the land of displaced peoples, spirituality and diaspora, youth and community building or resistance, diaspora, immigration and more. If folks have other ideas they are welcome to run it by us.

We’re also looking for IBPOC performers of any kind. As with our workshops, we are looking for first-time performers as well as those with more experience.

VW: If you could have one wish for Edmonton, what would it be?
BBFF: Self-determined diversity. We live and create here every day and yet our voices are only allowed to be heard in predetermined contexts in which we play no part. People want to consume our cultures, our languages, but only in ways that are palatable to them. It is time for people to let us take our space, for allies to stand in solidarity as we clear a path for our communities. It is time for stakeholders and people in positions of power in the arts community to listen when we speak up. Our truths need to be heard so that no other IBPOC has to be scared to represent their culture, to go missing, to experience any kind of violence or to ever be made to feel ashamed of their culture, gender, sexual orientation and/or identity.

For more information—including the festival date, which is to be determined—email, or find them on Facebook (BrownBlackFierce), Twitter (@brnblkfierce), and Tumblr (brownblackfierce). V

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