New exhibits in Charlottetown showcase BIPOC athletes and the land we live on

Two fresh exhibits at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery this month might make you look at P.E.I. and its people in a new light.

Confederation Centre Art Gallery hosting 2 very different art exhibits

Woman stands in front of five photographs.
Sobia Ali-Faisal is the executive director of BIPOC USHR. She said this exhibit highlights some of the BIPOC athletes who are currently competing in P.E.I. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Two fresh exhibits at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery are displaying P.E.I. and its people in a new light.

The first one showcases BIPOC people taking part in sports in the province (the acronym stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour). It's More Than Sports: A Celebration of BIPOC Athletes on Prince Edward Island is a collection of artifacts, children's drawings and photographs, some from the 1800s and 1900s along with newer ones taken by Mi'kmaw photographer Patricia Bourque.

The exhibit is an opportunity to recognize these athletes' hard work and skill, said Sobia Ali-Faisal, the executive director of BIPOC USHR (the second half of the group's name stands for United for Strength, Home, Relationship).

Woman on running track
One of Patricia Bourque's photos in the exhibit at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery shows runner Fairouz Gaballa. (Patricia Bourque)

"They highlight some of the BIPOC athletes who are currently competing in P.E.I. They may not be in the [Canada] Games, but they're athletes who are currently playing," she said.

The historic part of the exhibit demonstrates that BIPOC athletes have been in the province a very long time.

Deciding which athletes would be photographed for the exhibit followed some historical research and a public callout for local people who wanted to take part.

"Black athletes, Indigenous athletes who were from P.E.I. … definitely faced a lot of hurdles and discrimination during their time," Ali-Faisal said. "There's a lot of places they couldn't compete, for example." 

She hopes the show will inspire more people to take part in sports.

"We're hoping that racialized people, BIPOC people in P.E.I. come and take a look at this exhibit — especially kids. We want them to be able to see themselves in these faces," she said. 

A new exhibit on P.E.I. is celebrating the contributions BIPOC athletes have made to the Island. We'll speak with BIPOC USHR, the group that curated the exhibit.

Rematerializing the map

Starting Friday, visitors to the Sobey Gallery on the Confederation Centre's upper level will find a long table filled with brightly coloured plastic pieces. A show by Quebec artists Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens called Land is not a mat to be rolled up and taken away opens Feb. 17. 

A woman and man are shown with a variety of small transparent and brightly coloured rectangular pieces of plastic mounted at different angles on a variety of rods, as sun pours in the window.
On Friday, a new exhibit opens in the Sobey Gallery entitled 'Land is not a mat to be rolled up and taken away,' the work of Marilou Lemmens and Richard Ibghy. Here they are shown during a 2020 residency at the Grantham Foundation for the Arts and the Environment. (Submitted by H&S)

The pieces extending up from the table are shaped like cutouts of the various townships in Quebec. 

"They're taking this map, this great expropriationist abstraction, and the violence of it, and rematerializing it," said curator Sylvie Fortin.

She said the show will challenge people to think about "where we live, how we got to live here and perhaps to think about it differently."

It took months to create the more than 200 small sculptures, but longer to get all the research in order. The exhibit also features a video component.

Woman stand behind mulitple colourful sculptures.
Curator Sylvie Fortin with some of the elements of 'Land is not a mat to be rolled up and taken away,' the work of Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

New for this presentation of the show is a look at the maps that arose from explorer Samuel Holland's early exploration of P.E.I., then called Saint John's Island. Holland was the first Surveyor-General of British North America.

Fortin and the two Quebec artists worked together on that aspect of the exhibit last year, during a residency on the Island.

"We hope people will bring all of their knowledge and views on the piece and that we'll learn a lot through the expression," said Fortin.


Stacey Janzer was born and raised in Essex County, Ontario. Self-described Canadian treasure. She currently works as a video journalist at CBC P.E.I., formerly at CBC Windsor. Email her at