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Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner stand at the juncture near Forest City Gallery's current Old East Village location, April 2023.

In their recent artists’ talk for FCG, Véronique Chagnon Côté and Élise Lafontaine discussed their investment in the word “s’entraider,” meaning “to help each other.” They used it in reference to their own practices, specifically in how they collaborate, work and find community with others.

Not long after their talk, some of FCG’s founders came to tour our Elias Street space. Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner also co-founded The Embassy Cultural House (1983-1990) with musician Eric Stach. In 2020, the ECH was revitalized as a virtual artists’ community. This year, ECH celebrates its 40th Birthday and FCG celebrates its 50th. Suffice to say, artist-run organizations rely on mutual aid and collaboration, both within their own walls but also within and across their communities.

During their visit, Ron pointed out that our new space is right beside two wye-junctions between the CN and the CR railroad: wyes are used to allow trains the ability to travel in either direction, or to pass from one line to the other line. Am very grateful to Ron and Jamelie for this topographical intel, and to Véronique and Élise for providing a valuable word for this important year: s'entraider.


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