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BY THESE PRESENTS: "PURCHASING" TORONTO is an absurdist examination of the Toronto ‘Purchase’, a controversial treaty between the British and Mississaugas covering much of modern-day Toronto. Shot at historic Fort York, and along the contentious boundaries of the ‘Purchase’, BY THESE PRESENTS features an all-Indigenous cast whose visceral performance collapses past and present, revealing the city’s colonial foundations.The film centres on the treaty negotiations of 1805, where British officials covertly extended the boundaries of the Toronto Purchase lands beyond those allegedly sold in a poorly documented meeting in 1787. A group of Mississauga negotiators - with back up from their Mohawk ally, Joseph Brant, and a 6-foot Beaver puppet - confront the Queen’s representative, and demand he justify the Crown’s unscrupulous dealings. With a script drawing from the original treaty council minutes, Mississauga petitions to the Crown, correspondence between colonial officials, and interviews with Indigenous knowledge keepers, BY THESE PRESENTS reveals the calculus the British employed to diminish the Mississaugas, divide them from their Haudenosaunee allies, and acquire their lands at rock-bottom prices. While BY THESE PRESENTS unearths a little-known history, the film leaves more questions than answers for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples who want to honour treaties. How do we “honour” a dishonourable agreement? Where do we go from here? BY THESE PRESENTS was first presented at the 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art as part of a site-specific installation on Etobicoke Creek. The creek, which has never been ceded, marks the disputed boundary of the 1787 Toronto Purchase and the 1805 Head of the Lake cession (treaties 13 and 14 respectively). It is now subject to a water claim by the Mississaugas of the Credit.

Director's Bio:

Ange Loft is an interdisciplinary performing artist and initiator from Kahnawake Kanienkehaka Territory, working in Toronto. She is an ardent collaborator, consultant, facilitator and mentor working in storyweaving, arts based research, wearable sculpture and Haudenosaunee history. Ange is also a vocalist with the Juno and Polaris nominated band YAMANTAKA//SONIC TITAN.

Martha Stiegman is a documentary filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her work has screened in festivals around the world from Tunisia and New Zealand to Brazil. Indigenous struggles and settler solidarity have been the focus of Martha’s film work, scholarship and community-arts practice for more than a decade. She holds a joint doctorate in Communications Studies and Political Science from Concordia University examining Mi’kmaq Treaty Rights.

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  • Runtime
  • Language
  • Country
  • Director
    Ange Loft, Martha Stiegman (co-director)
  • Screenwriter
    Ange Loft, Victoria Freeman
  • Producer
    Jumblies Theatre & Arts