Walking with Grandma in Egypt


On reflection, Zahra, a student talked about her experience walking in the markets in Egypt and what she learned from her community, especially her grandma. “Basket weaving is one of the most prominent crafts that are still practiced today. I have always been fascinated by the technique and its beauty and have always wanted to learn how to make them myself”. This is of cultural significance because Zahra’s family is in Egypt and every time she goes to visit, they walk through the market to see the baskets, but also to get ingredients needed to make Zahra’s favourite dish (Molokhiya). These images are her memories from times walking with her grandma.

Right Across the Street

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As we sat perched on the steps in the back of the AGO, facing Beverely Street, Danny had an announcement to make  at the end of our walk in regards to community building. “The (OCADU) student union will be hosting it’s first hot lunch of the semester at 3pm today!! That’s right after class, so we can head back to school together if you’re interested”

The photographs below are what Danny shared with the class the following week. In the photographs there is a nondescript large house, with a plaque on the fence that read, Deep Quong Manor. We made a stop in front of it during our walk and so it was something I highlighted, but admittedly did not know much about it. I knew it was a temporary housing facility for men, without much knowledge about the organization.

Danny was interested in the house and did some research. He had this to share, “We didn’t have a large turnout for the hot lunch, and afterwards there were lots of leftovers we were gonna through away cause we didn’t have space to keep store it. Then I remembered our walk and class, and the house. So me and another student packed up the leftovers and walked over to the house to see if they would accept our donation. You know, our hot lunch. I told them where we were from and everything and that I wanted to do this every month if they wanted. I think the admin person was surprised, but took the donation and said we could talk. If it wasn’t for class today, I never would have known about the house which is in our own community of school”.

This was one of the most precious moments of walking I experienced with the class.

Line Drawings and Curiosity

For the first part of this walking project, I took students on a walk around our community, OCAD University. I provided a brief history of the community and asked them to look at this walk as a discovery walk in the urban environment. Pause at spots you wouldn’t have regularly. Take time to look at architectural details and styles, landscapes and gardens or lack of. What is the history of street names in the communal radius? How do you see yourself in this community? Listen to the sonic elements of the city and what they tell us. How can this be visually represented, interpreted and theoretically documented?

Shannon’s response to our first walking as pedagogy exercise is expressed through her delicate line drawings on acetate. She decided to document her walk from home to OCAD University, a walk she has taken for the past four years, but through this assignment has come to appreciate aspects that went unnoticed before. These are her thoughts on walking.

“I love the idea of using walking and art as a method of communication and a tool for learning. I know creation can be beneficial to everyone, regardless of skill level or intellect on the subject, there holds a certain sense of wonder curiosity about the creative process we get from walking and observing”-Shannon, 2016.




look up at the bellies of birds

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Takaronto is the Mohawk word for ‘where there are trees standing in the water’. Now known as Toronto, the original keepers of this land were the Haudenosaunee and most recently the Mississaguas of the New Credit. We need to remember this so that we can walk respectfully as guests.

The focus of this residency will be on land, indigeneity, culture and community. I am going to approach the theme through a course I am teaching at OCAD University, entitled: Art and Design Education: Community. We will move outside of the classroom and go for walks/observations in the area around the university so that students can gain an appreciation for the original keepers of the land and what it looks like now as a settler nation. The impetus for this project is to encourage students to appreciate the land we are on and to consider the land they are from, paying close attention to their identifications around race, culture and indigeneity.

Prior to the walks, we read Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s article, Land as Pedagogy. We discussed the article in class and I encouraged students to begin thinking about cultural narratives of learning from the land. For the walks, I wanted students to experience this walk as a flanuear of sorts, or as a discovery walk in the urban environment, taking a moment to hear the sweetness of squirrels scurrying to find food and to look up in a fall coloured tree to see the soft bellies of sparrows.

For the project I asked students to consider the following questions as they developed their narrative on the walks: what does it mean to be an immigrant on native land? What does it mean to be Black, Asian, Latino, etc., in Canada? What land do you feel at home on? In this project, I encouraged students to make it personal, bring it home and express a story of land, race and culture that would otherwise go untold. The outcomes from this project were written and visual. As part of this residency, each post will be documented and discussed.