Statement Regarding Cancellation of Exhibition


May 29, 2024

Statement from Debaser:

Thank you to the community members who have offered feedback and raised concerns about this exhibition. After discussing with the curator and the Indigenous Curatorial Collective (ICCA), we have collectively made the decision to cancel the exhibition ᐱᓯᑳᐧᑎᐢᑫᐧᐤ: Her Mouth is Medicine at Pique.

When we work with guest curators, our approach is to offer carte blanche for them to select the artists and themes they are interested in exploring. Harley Wegner was selected as part of our call for emerging Indigenous curators co-presented with the ICCA based on what we found to be a compelling concept that explored intersections of Indigenous spirituality, BDSM/kink culture, and Two-Spirit and Trans identity. It was a requirement of the project that the curator be Indigenous, but beyond that Harley had freedom to explore the proposed concepts with the artists that they selected.

After listening carefully to community members, we realize that the exhibition, specifically the themes explored and the roles of settler artists in relation to Indigenous artists, is problematic and can cause harm. We acknowledge Harley’s intentions behind the exhibition were to explore these dynamics safely and with consent, but after listening to community members, we share the concerns brought forward about the impacts of the exhibition. We understand that settler artists cannot speak to the complex issues that Indigenous community members face.

For our part, we regret that the tight timeline that we requested of Harley put them in a position where they could not take more time to explore these complex issues with more guidance from ICCA and other community members. We will continue to reflect on our processes of working with guest curators, and how we can offer more meaningful support while also offering opportunities for guidance from external community members. We apologize for our part, and are grateful to community members as well as the ICCA for holding us to a high standard, offering feedback and an opportunity to learn. We regret that through this process we have let Indigenous community members down and lost their trust, however we are committed to working towards rebuilding your trust through ongoing learning and thoughtful action.

Statement from Harley Wegner, exhibition curator:

I wanted to come on here and speak to the questions surrounding my identity as a Métis person. I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba but I am currently living in Ottawa, Ontario on Algonquin-Anishinaabe territory. Some of my family names include the Riels, Lavalees, Lagimodieres, Beauchemins, Poitras, and many many more. In my direct line my dad was the first to leave the Métis homeland. My great grandmother and my grandmother after her were Métis women. My grandmother died a few months before I was born so I was never able to connect with her. In her absence my great grandmother took up the role of being my grandmother and I was very close with her growing up. Our family was at risk of being sent to residential schools so my great grandmother’s mother hid all records of us being Métis in an attempt to protect her children, and their children after that.

In the 90s my father and my grandmothers discovered our Métis past and my family began their reconnection journey. Many of my family have Citizenship with the MMF. I spent most of my life rejecting, pushing away, and scared of my Métis status as i’d felt like I wasn’t Indigenous enough, but within the last few years I’ve come to connect with many wonderful Métis women who’ve welcomed me and made me feel a sense of belonging and community I had never experienced before. The day that comments on the exhibit were brought to my attention was the day before I was traveling to Saskatchewan to graduate from a Métis women’s leadership program, surrounded by Métis kin. I have spent so much time researching my family, my history, and what it means to be Métis. With the epidemic of pretendians in this country I understand the need to question the validity of people’s Indigenous claims and I hope I was able to clarify where I stand.



Anishinaabe-Algonquin land – April, 2024

Announced in early March, Debaser and the Indigenous Curatorial Collective / Collectif des commissaires autochtones (ICCA) have partnered to create opportunities for two emerging Indigenous curators to present programming as part of Pique, a multidisciplinary festival series produced by Debaser that takes place seasonally in Ottawa. 

Eva Grant – Photo Credit: Berkley Vopnfjörð, 2022

Following a national call for submissions, Harley Wegner (Red River Métis) and Eva Grant (Interior Salish) have been selected to curate exhibitions for the Pique summer and fall editions on June 8 and September 28, 2024, respectively. The curators will also present a critical discourse related their curatorial projects, which will be published by the ICCA later this year.

Harley Wegner (they/them) is a Métis Two-Spirt theatre artist and producer based on unsurrendered Algonquin Anishinaabe territory creating art that embraces Wahkohtowin while exploring queer and trans eroticism, leftist politics, camp, intimacy, and all things strange. Eva Grant (they/them/she/her) is a Francophone, Indigenous-Eurasian artist and programmer based on Vancouver Island. A graduate of Stanford University and a Sundance Lab Fellow, Eva is interested in land-based, time-bending works. Varied in their artistic practices and interests, the projects by Wegner and Grant will both explore Indigenous cultural resilience and decolonized desire through immersive site-responsive interventions. Wegner’s project will use performance, audio/visual media and textile to explore the erotic, Western colonial religion and Indigenous spirituality. Grant’s audio-immersive installation will rework space and time to explore reciprocal relationships with more-than-human kin. 

More details will be announced by Debaser approaching the date of each exhibition. Visit or subscribe to Debaser’s newsletter to stay informed on project updates. For more information and resources on the ICCA, please visit

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