Liberation of the Chinook Wind

Tania Willard

Custom-made windsocks, flatscreen TV, weather data, and poetry software

For full details on Living with Concepts, the Blackwood’s 2021–2024 exhibition in campus spaces, visit our website.

Project Description

Asserting Indigenous presence and claims to the water, Liberation of the Chinook Wind conceptualizes points of overlap between Indigenous nations, settlers, uninvited guests, and non-human beings by exploring the entangled histories of Chinook language, Chinook Wind, and Chinook salmon. Chinook salmon were introduced to Lake Ontario by settlers in the 1960s for sport fishing, and to prey on other invasive species. Chinook were preferred for sport fishing because they “fight” and “thrash” on the line; on windsocks at the Collegeway and Outer Circle Road, Willard has emblazoned these words alongside “water” and “claim,” to connect these stories with ongoing Indigenous presence and claims to the water. Chinook jargon was a hybrid of Indigenous and settler languages in the Pacific Northwest. The Chinook Wind is also an animate being in Secwépemc creation story, bringing forth an Indigenous concept of interrelatedness which counteracts our human-centric worlds. In this project, Willard evokes the wind’s agency through poems generated from live weather data.

The poems presented on this website use source material from these entangled histories to affirm Indigenous ways of life and sacred responsibilities, and to gesture to ongoing land claims and land defense, including the current water claim by the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation which asserts their rights to waterways that were not surrendered in treaty.

Daily poems from this website are also displayed on a flatscreen TV at the entrance to the Davis Meeting Place, University of Toronto Mississauga campus.

Artist Biography

Tania Willard, of Secwépemc and settler heritage, works within the shifting ideas around contemporary and traditional, often working with bodies of knowledge and skills that are conceptually linked to her interest in intersections between Aboriginal and other cultures. Her curatorial work includes Beat Nation: Art Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (2012-2014), co-curated with Kathleen Ritter. In 2016 Willard received the Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art from the Hnatyshyn Foundation and a City of Vancouver Book Award for the catalogue Unceded Territories: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Willard’s ongoing collaborative project, BUSH Gallery, is a conceptual land-based gallery grounded in Indigenous knowledges and relational art practices. Willard is an MFA candidate at UBCO Kelowna, and her current research constructs a land rights aesthetic through intuitive archival acts.


Programming and web development by Stephen Surlin
Weather data supplied by the Department of Geography, UTM
Liberation of the Chinook Wind is sponsored by Panasonic