Past Event Highlights
Nuit Blanche 2011
Medicine Walk: Breath Tracks was the Aboriginal Studies Program’s premiere installation for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche celebrations. Sponsored by Scotiabank and funded entirely by the Aboriginal Studies Program, Breath Tracks was devised and curated by Jill Carter.
Kahontake Kitikan Garden, reclaimed by the Aboriginal students at the University of Toronto, became the site of a permanent installation, a Drum, guided water walks, and “guerrilla performance interventions” (including dance, spoken word, poetry readings and scenes) by Lee Maracle with students and Alumnae of the Aboriginal Studies Program at the University of Toronto. Over the course of the twelve-hour event, ABS stepped onto centre stage at Toronto’s biggest annual party, claimed its space, and hosted several thousand Torontonians within it.
After each performance, audience members were invited to share their reactions, questions and stories, strengthening their own connections to the Aboriginal Peoples with whom they share this territory and heightening their investment in the buried history and endangered health of the lands and waters on which the health of all depends.
First Nations Youth Gathering 2012
The inaugural First Nations Youth Gathering was held at the University of Toronto on January 14th and 15th, 2012. Thirty First Nations youth from across Canada were connected with First Nations leaders, elders and respected teachers to be educated about history, discuss environmental issues, and learn leadership skills vital for the next generation of First Nations leaders. Throughout the weekend, strategies were discussed for implementing environmental protection initiatives, enhancing and sustaining community health and strength, and furthering the goal of self-government. Sylvia Plains, a Political Science major at the University of Toronto, who focuses on First Nations Governance, coordinated the event.
Locating Compassion 2012
The Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts presented Locating Compassion in Land Ethics, a weekend mini-conference on the St. George Campus. The purpose of the conference was to consider the role Aboriginal Knowledge Systems might play in the healing of the broken city in which we live and work. Once a thriving site of economic and cultural exchange, the GTA was a key hub at which countless nations gathered—a flourishing centre of Indigenous activity and syncretism—thousands of years before the Old World stumbled into the “New.” But with the legacy of modernity and the postmodern spirit-dance of fragmentation and wilful forgetting, this Gathering Place has become a non-place of dislocation and despair.
Scholars, artists and activists, working within myriad disciplines and having a personal stake in the GTA and its environs, were invited to consider the original laws that governed this place. Participants were asked to remember the connections and responsibilities contemporary Torontonians hold to the Indigenous Peoples who stewarded this land long before contact, to other citizens of or strangers within the city, to the species who have been forced (by development and environmental degradation) further and further into the city to seek sustenance, and to the very land itself.
Presenters at Locating Compassion included graduate and undergraduate students from Aboriginal Studies, Anthropology, Aerospace Engineering, English, Environmental Studies, History, International Relations, and Political Science; artists; activists; food producers; and Professors of Architecture, Environmental Studies, Geography, and Indigenous Studies. Participants included students and faculty from the aforementioned departments; activists; bee keepers; undergraduate students from OCAD University; independent artists and curators; and University of Toronto Alumni.
Consisting of two keynote addresses (opening and closing), three workshops, two student panels and several panels featuring visiting scholars and artists, the conference was very well attended with approximately 250 people attending, and Cambridge Scholars Press has inquired about the possibility of publishing the proceedings.
2012/2013 Lecture Series
Alan Corbiere is the Coordinator of the Anishinaabemowin Revival Program at Lakehead School, M’Chigeeng First Nation. He specializes in language revival and is known for his writings on the importance of language. Through his traditional storytelling, he has been educating both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people about the culture and history of the First Nations. He has a B.Sc. in Environmental Science from the University of Toronto, and an M.Sc. in Environmental Studies from York University.
Bonita Lawrence (Mi’kmaw) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Equity Studies at York University where she teaches Indigenous Studies in the Multicultural and Indigenous Studies program. Her book Fractured Homeland: Federal Recognition and Algonquin Identity in Ontario examines the struggles of federally-unrecognized Algonquins to protect their land in the face of an ongoing land claim. She is the author of
“Real” Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native People and Indigenous Nationhood (2004). With Kim Anderson, she has co-edited a collection of Native women’s scholarly and activist writings entitled Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival (2003). She has also guest-edited “Indigenous Women: The State of Our Nation” in the journal Atlantis (Spring 2005). She is a traditional singer who continues to sing with groups in Kingston and Toronto at Native social and political gatherings.
Pamela Palmater area of expertise is in Indigenous law, politics, and governance. She has been researching and writing on issues impacting First Nations governance for the past few decades. Her book, Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity, considers the legal, political and social problems of federally-imposed Indian registration with regard to band membership and self-government citizenship. She has also published in the area of Aboriginal and treaty rights, legislation and law-making, First Nations education, poverty and politics. Her most recent contribution is a report entitled, “Our Children, Our Future, Our Vision: First Nation Jurisdiction over First Nation Education”.
Dr. Wendy Makoons Geniusz is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, where she teaches Ojibwe language and American Indian Studies Courses. Makoons is a Bear Clan, Cree woman, who, out of respect for her Ojibwe namesake, was raised with Ojibwe language and culture. In her recent book, Our Knowledge is Not Primitive: Decolonizing Botanical Anishinaabe Teachings (Syracuse University Press), she contrasts the ways in which Ojibwe knowledge has been collected and presented by non-Native researchers with how that knowledge is preserved within Ojibwe communities. Before completing her PhD in American Studies at the University of Minnesota in 2006, Makoons was a pre-doctoral fellow in American Indian Studies at Michigan State University, an Allen Fellow at the Newberry Library, and a MacArthur Fellow in American Indian and Educational Studies at Colgate University. Three months before her graduation, she was appointed to the faculty of Minnesota State University Moorhead, where she taught courses in American Multicultural Studies for two years. Makoons left Moorhead in 2008 to become the Director of American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire, a position she held for three years.
Dawnis Kennedy is an Assistant Professor at Algoma University where she teaches Aboriginal and Anishinaabe Law, Government and Politics courses in the Department of Law and Politics. She is a Trudeau Scholar and received her L.L.M. from the University of Toronto where she is currently working on her S.J.D.. Kennedy is an Ojibwe Marten Clan woman from Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation and a first degree Midewiwin of the Three Fires Lodge. Her recent research in oral history and culture explores the Shinwauk Covenant, the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education and elementary treaty education in Manitoba. Dawnis is also an active participant in the Mother Earth Water Walk and is the main contact person for the Western portion of the Water Walk.
Taiaiake is a Full Professor in Indigenous Governance and in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria. He specializes in studies of traditional governance, the restoration of land-based cultural practices and decolonization strategies. He has
recently shifted away from scholarly research and essays and has begun working on a book of stories/memoir of life in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake as well as a work of creative nonfiction on Indigenous masculinity and hunting.