After a busy year of workshops and research, the project team is looking forward to getting off campus and into communities to discuss practices of resilience. Throughout the year, we’ve learned so much from our students, staff, faculty, and knowledge keepers about how Indigenous bodies and minds navigate on and off-campus settler colonial spaces and intellectual frameworks that often remain hostile to Indigenous presence. Contributing to other initiative on campus, this project facilitates various forms of learning, skill-building, and centring workshops around Cree, Métis, and Nishnaabeg concepts such as wâhkôhtowin and mino bimaadiziwin whether about filmmaking, beading, or ribbon skirt making, we aim to to disrupt settler colonial pedagogical motifs, but most importantly, provide fuel for those staff, students, and faculty who carry the weight of settler colonialism while working for their families, friends, communities, and careers.
We continue to re-think our workshop development, aiming to shape the process from planning to finish, as an act of service and care for Indigenous knowledges and peoples. We’re also committed to combating structural racism by subsidizing participation for Indigenous students, paying artists and knowledge keepers, and following the protocol laid out by the Elders and knowledge keepers who facilitate the workshops. So often, Indigenous artists, academics, and knowledge keepers share their skills without pay out of kindness and love for Indigenous students and youth.
Our most current piece of news is that the Indigenous women and youth resilience survey is up and running on our website – check it out! To develop an Indigenous theory of resilience, the survey asks: what does resilience look like for Indigenous women, youth, trans, and two-spirit peoples? And how might those practices of resilience be used to empower students and end the crushing rates of violence towards those Indigenous communities? If online surveys aren’t your thing and you or your community are interested in a group interview, give us a shout! Group interview participants will be fed delicious food and gifted a Tim’s card as a humble thank-you.
It was a busy start to 2018 for the Project team and we’re so grateful for all the students, staff, and faculty who were able to participate in our events. In January we hosted an all Indigenous I-Week discussion panel about resilience and artistic expression. Participants included Tashina Makokis, Brenda Morency, Kenneth T. Williams, Amanda Gould, and Pauline Paulson. The panelists outlined their experiences of developing their crafts, drawing inspiration from mentors, history, and a shared vision of creating more spaces for aspiring Indigenous dancers, artists, and playwrights. Expressions of resilience can be found in their work, but also in “unexpected” areas of their lives, like a diet of wild meats, berries, and plants, or incredibly brave and provocative art exhibitions that confront and challenge the settler gaze.
In February we were lucky to host Roxanne Tootoosis and Pauline Paulson, knowledge keepers and expert seamstresses who lead two jam packed ribbon-skirt making workshops. The workshops included the ribbon-skirt teachings as well as beginning to a end lesson to sew a ribbon skirt. It was incredible to watch the creativity unfold as people decided their ribbon colour combinations and added their own designs with appliqué. Overwhelmed by the response, we’re planning another workshops for next year!
Also in February, we hosted film makers Thirza Cuthand and Danni Black (Treaty 7 Film Collective) for a one-day Indigenous Resilience Film Symposium. Check it out the details of the event!
The ribbon-skirt workshop and film symposium lead up to the Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women from MacEwan University to the University of Alberta. Students, faculty, and community members heard opening words from MacEwan’s president Deborah Saucier, Tracy Bear, and a group of students who participated in a men’s fast leading up to the march spoke about their participation ceremony. Ending at the UofA’s Aboriginal Student Council common area, marchers warmed up and visited with tea and pizza. It was a powerful tribute to those taken, but also a clear demand to end systemic violence to Indigenous women, youth, Two-Spirit, and Trans peoples.
Looking forward, the project team is heading to NAISA, continuing its research on resilience, abolition studies, and Indigenous feminist and queer theory. We’re also busy developing next year’s line up of workshops which kicks off with quillwork with the one and only, MJ Belcourt.
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Have a safe and happy summer folks, Ekosi.