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Leanna Marshall | “Giigoon and the BadAss Vest”

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Curator’s Note: Use the audio player below to listen to Marshall read the piece, which incorporates the jingling from the jingle vest from the photographs.

Giigoon and the BadAss Vest

On a day that seemed full of intergenerational sadness and terror,
I acknowledged the fish as a gift.
Through that fish, the water flowed from me, releasing
Grief, I hadn’t known was there.

Then the fish dreams came.
In their different forms, the fish offered themselves.
in stages, the mystery of life reveals herself
In the meantime
I create

I made this vest out of an old jean jacket. I cut off the
Sleeves and went wild with the ric rac. Sewing the beautiful wavy design
Around the vest to represent water and the thunderbeings
In the centre back is a picture of a fish, a salmon, jumping out of the water
As if to remind us of their humble significance
As we, humans teeter on the edge of obscurity.
Covering the back and sides of the vest are jingles
That have been sewn close enough together
To make sounds as they knock against one another.

When I wear this vest, I feel badass.
I feel the weight of the jingles and they give me
Such power and strength,
As if they are clearing the path before me.

At the same time, these jingles soothe me and provide me with a deep comfort that is felt
Three generations behind and 3 generations into the future.

They are a
visceral reminder that our ancestors
Always got our backs.
And they do
Those ancestors
They always go our backs

Keep Moving
Keep Dancing &
Keep Making Noise


Leanna Marshall is of Anishinaabe and English descent. She was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario where she continues to reside. She is a band member of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug. She is the mother of two vibrant and gentle daughters. Leanna is a self-taught artist who tells stories of her ancestors and of the land through textile piece, performance art, and poetry. Leanna writes to express social inequities and to demonstrate actions of kind-heartedness to work through the effects of colonial violence. She utilizes opportunities to work with community in order to encourage connection and strengthen relationships with all of our relatives.

Learn more about Leanna’s work here.

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