Indigenous artist Manuel Axel Strain asks who or what is deemed safe and visible in new exhibition

Ancestral Ties to the Flood ​runs Aug. 21 to Sept. 27 at the Fort Gallery

The Fort Gallery presents ​Ancestral Ties to the Flood​, an exhibition of new work by ​Manuel Axel Strain.

Strain ​is a 2-spirit interdisciplinary artist of Musqueam/Simpcw/Syilx heritage, based on the unceded territory of the Katzie and Kwantlen peoples​. ​

Ancestral Ties to the Flood​ is the fourth in a series of five exhibitions at the Fort Gallery exploring the social, cultural, and environmental significance of the Fraser River.

Inspired by recent widespread action against the TMX pipeline, and rail blockades in support of Wet’suwet’en sovereignty, Strain’s exhibition honors indigenous labour to protect lands, waters, and air.

In a video, Strain dances before the Fort Langley railway crossing wearing regalia fashioned from deconstructed neon safety vests, asking the question: who or what is deemed safe and visible?

Sandbags, strewn throughout the sparse gallery space, reference the ways that indigenous communities fortify themselves, not only against literal floods, but also the tides of colonial violence that seek to erase indigenous bodies and title.

For Strain, the flood imagery is layered, explaining that on one hand referring to the literal floods that plague First Nations reserves, on the other hand, a metaphor for the power of indigenous resistance to colonial oppression.

READ MORE: Fort Gallery showcases isolation with new exhibition of works created during COVID

Ancestral Ties to the Flood ​runs Aug. 21 to Sept. 27 at the Fort Gallery.

Strain will open and close their exhibition with a live performance on the shores of Bedford Channel on Friday, Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m.

Kwantlen storyteller Joseph Dandurand will share his stories and poetry in a socially distanced reading in the gallery’s garden on Saturday, Sept. 12 at noon.

All are welcome to attend these events.

The gallery is located at 9048 Glover Rd and is open Friday noon to 5 p.m., Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

People can find out more at


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