Monday, 27 February 2012

TSF 2012: Wish Come True Writers' Challenge

Wish Come True Writers' Challenge  
The Vancity Culture Lab
1895 Venables Street Vancouver BC
 7:30pm   Monday February 27, 2012 TONIGHT!

The Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast (AWCWC) is taking that well-quoted writers’ lament— "I wish I had more time to write"— to a competitive level. The writers are challenging themselves to write a complete, undefined body of literary work in 8 hours, on a topic given by guest artist Paul Seesequasis on the morning of the day, and to present it publically the same night.
Join us for a reading of excerpts from the freshly created writings and a reading from Tobacco Wars by Paul Seesequasis.

AWCWC writer-participants:

Joanne Arnott (Metis/mixed-blood) is author of six books, and editor of a few more. Originally from Manitoba, she has made her home in Salish territories for most of her life, and become mother to six young people through the process.
Jo’s books include Mother Time: Poems New & Selected, Steepy Mountain love poetry, and a new chapbook, the family of crow. A founding member of AWCWC, she was text editor for Salish Seas: an anthology of text + image (2011). Jo is a blogger:  Joanne Arnott, Vera Manuel Tribute, Kegedonce Blog.

Francine Burning belongs to the Kenieke'haka (Mohawk: People of the Flint) Nation of the Rotinoshonni Confederacy - Turtle Clan. She returns to her home community, the Six Nations of the Grand River Indian Reservation in Southern Ontario every summer to renew her connection to her people’s lands and ceremonies. Francine is a single mother, the 3 girls ages 16, 14, & 12, and has lived in Vancouver for the past 17 years.  In her second year of a Master of Arts at UBC, Francine’s writing is informed by her studies, her Indigenous mentors, life’s experiences and colonial history.

Nicola Campbell is Interior Salish and Métis and grew up in BC’s Nicola Valley. Nicola is currently completing a MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. Her first free-verse children’s book titled, Shi-shi-etko, was published in September 2005 and received the 2006 Aboriginal Children’s Book of the Year. Her second book, a sequel to Shi-shi-etko titled, Shin-chi’s Canoe was released in fall 2008 and received the 2009 TD Canadian Children’s literature award. Her third book, Grandpa’s Girls was just released in Fall 2011. All of her books have been published by Groundwood Books.

Wil To Write - Wil George is a poet and contemporary story-teller from the Tsleil Waututh Nation (also known as Burrard Indian Band). Wil's poetry chapbook called Survival In Its Many Shapes was published by UNIT/PITT Projects. His poetry has been published in various anthologies and literary magazines including Salish Seas published by Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast and In Our Own Voices edited by Proma Tagore and published by Larkuma. 

Wanda John-Kehewin is from the Kehewin Cree Nation in Alberta. She lives and works in North Vancouver. She has studied criminology at the NEC and Douglas College; Sociology and Aboriginal studies at Langara, and attended SFU’s TWS Creative Writing Program. She grew up on the Reservation and a huge part of her writing is created from the injustices she saw and experienced. Her work is published in UBC’s Aboriginal Anthology, Salish Seas, and elsewhere; she has shared her “truth” through many readings. Wanda lives with her three children; two cats and one dog who definitely inspire her write and heal through the creative writing process.

 Kat Norris, Coast Salish Nez Perce, was born on Valdez Island, B.C.  She attended Kuper Island Residential school. Kat states that growing up in California was such a blessing as it opened up her mind, world and soul to, not only, choices and possibilities but her voice.  Her family moved back to Canada when Kat was 19, meaning re-experiencing racism which only served to help her find her purpose in life, as an activist and founder of the Indigenous Action Movement. She is invited to speak at women's conferences, grassroot activist gatherings and universities, speaking on the experiences of Indigenous people. Her loves:  Writing, dancing, pow wow, family, and her grandchildren.

Janet Marie Rogers is a Mohawk/Tuscarora writer from the Six Nations territory. Janet is a page poet and presents spoken word performance and works in video poetry and recorded poetry. She has three books published to date; Splitting the Heart (2007), Red Erotic (2010) and Unearthed (Leaf Press 2011).  Her spoken word CD Firewater was nominated for a Native American Music Award and a Canadian Aboriginal Music Award. Her newest CD Got Your Back is a collaboration with Mohawk poet Alex Jacobs.    Janet hosts Native Waves Radio on CFUV 101.9fm in Victoria BC and Tribal Clefs on CBC radio one's All Points West. Her radio documentary "Bring Your Drum" 50 Years of Indigenous Protest Music won Best Radio at the imagiNATIVE film and media festival 2011. Janet has recently been named Victoria's third poet laureate.

annie ross Daughter of a traditional Maya Mother and auntie and WWII veteran father (Sydney Mines, NS).  Began education at home with plants, animals, art, indigenous hand work, storytelling, and history in Compton, California.  A working artist and writer, committed to the story of Sacred Home/Lands and all her Beings in order to work within the global indigenous quest for those elusive civil rights, social and environmental justice. 

Kelly Roulette is Ojibway from the Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba. She grew up in Winnipeg until she moved to Vancouver, which she now calls her home base. Kelly is the proud mom of daughter Teyah, who has also shown an early interest in art. Kelly has had a diverse work background ranging from working on UTV, the former Global CanWest Television station, and is a lawyer. She participated in the Salish Seas project as both writer and visual artist.

Performing with:
Paul Seesequasis is a writer and a journalist. He was the founding editor of the award-winning Aboriginal Voices magazine, and the recipient of a MacLean-Hunter journalist award. His short stories and feature writings have been published in Canada and abroad. Tobacco Wars is his first novella.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

snow day!

celebrating snow in a region that defies all definitions of "Canadian winter"
celebrating family/culture in the same place

i missed posting this when we had snow for two weeks, but my patio tells me there's another chance here, however fleeting

shout out to our friends in snowier regions!
youtube channels by local artists:

Saturday, 25 February 2012

the stars in my firmament

Wab Kinew: Heroes

One thing it's good to be aware of is how far from a monolith indigenous people are, the sheer range of diversity (cultural, historical, regional, individual) is at least equal to the settler society's diversity, and there is a lot of spill over: between the ship and the canoe, the water is brimming with swimmers.

The point for me is that it isn't a lack of heroism, but a skillful systemic deletion of historical fact: David Ahenakew spent a lifetime working on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan, with many successes. The National Post shared an obituary (no longer available on the web) which featured two instances when he was dragged into court on spurious charges, and humiliated, and not a word about his many successes. Did he say an ignorant thing near the end of his life? Should that really be used to invalidate everything else?

And so it goes.

When i consider, who are my heroes, who are the stars in my firmament, there is only one political figure that comes to mind: Elijah Harper. Why? Because he turned the train, at a time when i felt that the train very much needed turning. He did it with dignity, quietly, peacefully. Can i find footage of this on youtube? The actual footage i found embedded in a Quebec history lesson, number 33:

There are also a few of these:

The amnesiac reflex is still at work, even as more and more indigenous people find voice, in all the many possible arenas.
Most of the stars in my firmament are writers, because that is the realm i have grown up in: Maria Campbell, Lee Maracle, Beth Brant, Anthony Thrasher, Jeannette Armstrong, Sarain Stump, Daniel David Moses, to name just a few. Sarain's & Thrasher's books did more to change my life than I can say.

Sarain Stump

Unraveling the knot of acculturation and resistance in Anthony Thrasher's Skid Row Eskimo by Sam McKegney (2006)

 I found them both in second-hand bookstores, in my early years on the coast.

Beatrice Moisioner (Culleton) is one whose books were recommended to me for decades, placed in my hand by well-intended friends and family. I put off reading April Raintree until last year, after I'd read Come Walk With Me.  

What was not apparent to people handing me the book is how deep the pain goes, straight to the roots, and that the very similarities of our stories created a situation of extreme psychic danger for me. So, round about the age of fifty, I picked up Beatrice' memoir. Once I'd read the nonfiction presentation of a life, I could then go back with some confidence to read the earlier, fictionalized offering. 

At the right time, in the right place, I really benefited from reading them both.


I found "Heroes" by a round about route, started off looking for info on the Truth & Rec report, here's Wab with George:

and here's Kinew's "Heroes" on Native HipHop Net

i ended up posting information about the TRCC interim report here, as both Vera Manuel and her father George were among the persons quoted by the commission (& reporters). Vera another of the stars in my firmament... Visit Vera Manuel Tribute:

David Ahenakew's biography/Wikipedia article is similarly distorted (accessed Feb 25 2012), with a smallish portion of his years of service and a whole lot more about the court cases.

(the stars in my firmament)

I found the Elijah Harper material on youtube, which also offers a more recent interview with Mr. Harper on ListenUp
The link to biography leads to a page on Doris Small's thesis website, Elijah Harper: Parliamentarian

The authors named are by no means an exhaustive list.

Sarain Stump link leads to Canadian Encyclopedia entry about Mr Stump

Anthony Thrasher link leads to an analytical essay about Mr Thrasher's book, here it is for pdf download:

Unraveling the Knot of Acculturation and Resistance in Anthony ...
 A more recent essay with the same author and co-writer Keavy Martin: Inuvialuit Critical Autobiography and the Carceral Writing of Anthony Thrasher (p. 65 - 83) (Spring 2011,

 Beatrice Moisioner links all lead to her website,

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Picto Prophesy Project~ Ullus Collective

"Picto Prophesy Project is an exploration of the role of prophesy in Indigenous cultures in the year 2012. While Mayan prophecies may have caught the interest of mainstream culture through Hollywood style Armageddon themed movies, this project takes a very different approach to the theme of prophecy and its role in social life and ethics of Indigenous communities."


click on each drop-shaped tag on the map
visit each artwork, click play (if you can)
sensual, contemplative, energizing, fun

"GeotagArt offers a location-based art experience to a wireless audience. We invite you to explore the Picto Prophesy Project and check-in to an art experience showcasing video and experimental new media. Link to works by Ullus Collective artists to directly engage with their art and ideas not only online but also on location."

Cease Wyss writes:
Hey Joanne, the purpose of
, is to allow people to access this show online, and to be able to view these works on iPhones and other smart phones, if they have them. It is not designed to be a smart phone only show. To be honest, i prefer viewing the works on a computer, so i can get as much viewing of the work as possible. The main focus with this online component is to encourage viewers to become more interactive with the works, like possibly interacting on the land where the markers are located on the maps. If someone is close to any of the markers on the map, and wants to go be on the land where those markers are, they will experience more in relation to the work, through becoming closer to the land and seeing things more through the eyes of the artists and their choices of where the markers are located, in relation to their works.
This is not really a new concept, but this is something that people consistently get stuck with wondering what the purpose of the interactive components are.
The show will be developing as the year goes on, and as more funding becomes available, we will be creating more interactive components. In the mean time, try just viewing the works online, and being able to see the show, which is touring the province and will be in Vancouver in July.

"About the Artists
Participating artists include members of the Ullus Collective: Victoria Baptiste - Syilx Nation, Mariel Belanger - Syilx Nation, Tracey Kim Bonneau - Syilx Nation, Chris Bose - Nlaka'pamux Nation, Bracken H'anuse Corlett - Wuikinuxv, Heiltsuk and Klahoose Nations, Warren Hooley - Syilx Nation, Cease Wyss - T'Uy'Tanat of the Skwxw'u7mesh Nation."

"About Us
The Ullus Collective is an Indigenous collective based in the traditional territory of the Nsyilxcen speaking people of the Syilx Nation. Our vision is to preserve, perpetuate and protect language, history and culture to ensure our future. To this end we will deploy not only our traditional forms of expression but also new technologies and new media arts. Founding member, Richard Armstrong, keeper of Indigenous/traditional ecological knowledge, ensures that Indigenous intellectual property is respected and that throughout this project proper protocols are followed."

The Picto Prophesy Project

February 3 - March 17, 2012

Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art
421 Cawston Ave, Unit 103
Kelowna, B.C.
V1Y 6Z1 Canada  Get a Map

The Picto Prophesy Project is an examination of prophecies inviting viewers to engage in a discourse about Indigenous dream culture and visions. While Mayan prophecies may have caught the interest of popular culture, their rendering is almost invariably stereotypical and unproductive. Picto Prophesy takes a very different approach to the theme of prophecy and its role in social life and ethics of Indigenous communities. Using location-based artworks and GPS technology, the collective integrates audio, video and new media into the land. This innovative approach builds on the tradition of storytelling using pictographs, rock landmarks, Totem Poles and Story Poles.

Participating artists of the Ullus collective include Mariel Belanger, Tracey Kim Bonneau, Chris Bose, Bracken Hanuse Corlett and Warren Hooley. Senior artist, Cease Wyss, participates as a guest artist and mentor. Indigenous/Traditional Ecological Knowledge Keeper of the Syilx Nation, Richard Armstrong, also shares his knowledge and expertise. The Picto Prophecy Project  is curated by independent visual artist Jennifer Pickering in collaboration with Ullus Chair Tracey Kim Bonneau.
The Ullus is an Indigenous collective based in Penticton that brings together artists to share knowledge, build skills and develop innovative projects. The collective gratefully acknowledges project support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the En'owkin Centre. 
About the Artists:
Mariel Belanger was raised as a member on the Okanagan Indian Reserve and is Okanagan and French Canadian decent. She is a writer, performer, model and an emerging filmmaker and photographer. Mariel graduated from Media and Communications General Arts and Sciences in Ottawa, completed her first year Social Work from NVIT, graduated from the National Aboriginal Professional Artist Training program at Enowkin and trained as a professional actor in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. As a member of the Ullus collective since 2004, Mariel has directed award winning short films such as Wayward Soul and Mothers Milk. Other films include Coyote Tales (Dreamspeakers Film Festival) and I still hear my granny speak (imagineNATIVE and On Common Ground).
Tracey Kim Bonneau is a member of the Syilx Nation born and raised on the Penticton Indian reserve in British Columbia. She is the Chair of the Ullus Collective and the coordinator for the National Aboriginal Professional Artist Program at the En'owkin Centre in Penticton. Bonneau is an award winning broadcast journalist, director, writer, producer and storyteller who has been producing stories both independently and with the CHBC for 18 years. In 2008, her documentary, Magic on the Water, was awarded First Place for Best Television Feature. In 2009, this film was screened at the American Indian Film Institute and received a nomination for Best Documentary Short, as well as winning the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Gold Ribbon Award in Quebec.
Chris Bose is from the Nlaka'pamux nation, which means "people of the canyon", referring to the B.C. region where the Fraser and Thompson Rivers join. Through his  photography, film, digital storytelling, poetry and music, Chris wrestles with the traumatic intergenerational effects of residential school. Chris' work blends popular culture and archival footage with a heavy metal aesthetic. In 2009, Chris launched Urban Coyote TeeVee, a blog featuring his digital art, film and commentary. Jesus Coyote TeeVee, a video short, which developped out of this project, was shown at the Toronto ImagiNative Film and Media Arts Festival in 2011. Chris' most recent book of poetry, Stone the Crow, was published by Kegedonce Press in 2010. 
Bracken Hanuse Corlett is a Northwest Coast based multimedia artist and a member of the Wuikinuxv and Klahoose Nations. His talents include video, sound, painting, carving/sculpture, writing and performance. His work deals with themes of cultural reclamation and survival, identity politics, hybridity, and decolonization. Much of his work is relevant to his Northwest Coast Indigenous roots and explores the stories, language, songs and art of his people. He is also inspired by art movements of agit-pop, manga and dada. A graduate of the En’owkin Centre for Indigenous Art, his work was featured in 2008 by the Three Walls Gallery (Chicago IL) and Grunt Gallery's Beat Nation exhibited by Saw Gallery (Ottawa) in 2009. He has worked as a newswritter for Redwire Magazine, as production manager and co-programmer at the Indigenous Media Arts Group, and is currently co-founder and co-programmer for the newly formed Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival. 
Emerging artist, Warren Hooley, is from the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation and a member of the Penticton Indian Band. Warren is a graduate of the National Aboriginal Professional Artist Training program (2011). His talents include graphic design, film, visual arts and music. He is best known for his music, which he describes as progressive lyrical hip hop. Recent projects include Abrupt and Kid Kong, a musical collaboration with his 11 year old cousin Austin George. Warren's work, which includes workshops and public speaking, focuses on the youth, who he feels most respond to his style of hip hop.
Senior artist Cease Wyss is from the (T’Uy’Tanat) of the Skwxw’u7mesh Nation. Cease is an ethnobotanist, media artist, educator and activist. The focus of her arts practice is in community, health and healing practices. Through her work with foods and medicines she continues her journey of understanding the relationship between arts and culture and how it relates to community holistic health. Cease works collaboratively through writing, producing, directing and mentoring communities and individuals. Her short films, installations and performances includes the Talking Poles (2008) for the Surrey public art collection and Soul Gardens (2011) with W2 community Media Arts. Cease was a recipient of the 2010 Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Awards for Studio Arts for Film & New Media.
The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Audain Foundation, the BC Arts Council, the City of Kelowna, the Ullus Collective, the En'owkin Centre, our members and volunteers.
more about ullus collective here


Friday, 17 February 2012

She of the Sea

~Ningeokuluk Teevee, "Sea Goddess" (2010)

~Ningeokuluk Teevee, "Untitled (Sedna by the Sea)" (2001-2002)

Eye on the Arctic~ video interview with Ningeokuluk Teevee

Author + illustrator of Alego (Groundwood) (GG nominee 2009)

 Ningeokuluk Teevee bio and portfolio, Nunavut Gallery brochure (2010) (pdf)

first image: Art Knowledge News ~ Winnipeg Art Gallery ~ New Art from Cape Dorset (til 8 April 2012) featuring work of Ningeokuluk Teevee (b. 1963) and Tim Pitsiulak (b. 1967)
second image:
Eye on the Arctic ~ The New Raw~ Contemporary Inuit Art (2010) 

artist photo (source)


~ Sedna by Ovilu Tunnillie (1961)

Oviloo Tunnillie was born on December 20, 1949 at one of several ancestral camps her family occupied before settling in Kinngait [Cape Dorset], Qikiqtaaluk [Baffin Island], Nunavut in the late 1960s. She made her first carving in 1966 when she was seventeen years old and began her thirty year exploration of the medium in 1972. Tunnillie left Kinngait and moved to Toronto with her family in 2001. She is currently living and working in both Ottawa and Montreal. (The Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art ~The Canadian Art Database)

 Inuit Art Alive (Jerry Riley photo)
 image source:
Galerie Elca London

~Sedna by Jimmy Iqaluq

 from "An exhibition of art by Jimmy Iqaluq of Sanikiluaq" (2005)


 "Jimmy’s parents, Mina and Samwillie, are both carvers."
(artist photo source)


the problem with sedna (in four parts)
"This is the story of Nuliajuk, or Niviaqsi, the woman below the waves. She is not a goddess, but rather a special creature of fear and tragedy."
Rachel Qitsualik, March 1999
1999~ Nunatsiaq News Online 

Rachel's books (Inhabit Media)


 I remember working with an editor, back in the mid-nineties, she arriving to the table with her background in feminist news, and i arriving from a realm of poetry & childbirth. At a certain point she sat back, looked me in the eye, and asked, "what does the goddess have to do with women's human rights?" 

Or something like that: how can a person in need of soul nourishing explain the forms of sustenance & replenishment, to a person of who~what~when~where~why (if there's time) orientation? It isn't a matter of pragmatism versus the flake, as her tone clearly implied. It's a matter of pragmatism versus pragmatism, and two very different worlds.

Art producers produce art to feed the family, and still, there is the need to survive on a delicate spiritual level, and from this perspective, art is the byproduct of the artist's navigation of, and negotiation with, the world. 

The subjects are the artists and the subjects of the art are what is important to each creative being, rising from within, assigned by an editor, art buyer, or commissioner, and may be expressive of anything: playful, painful, deepest desires, sweeping critique of the world.

*In coming months I'll be reviewing a number of Inhabit Media's books, including this one.