Land and Life in Tkaronto
New Solidarities Toward a Decolonial Future
Details: As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, this year’s Hancock Lecture addressed the 15,000-year history of Toronto, or Tkaronto, as a home to Indigenous peoples and the ways in which their legacy and language must be recognized, respected and encouraged to flourish. Speaker Susan Blight examined the potential for real change, renewed relationships and the repatriation of Indigenous land and life in Tkaronto. This examination is particularly relevant now in light of the Final Report of the University of Toronto’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Steering Committee, which was submitted to the President and Provost on January 13.
Susan is an Anishinaabe artist and co-founder of the Ogimaa Mikana project, an art collective working to revitalize and reclaim the Anishinaabeg language and territory. Guided by ancestors and committed to future generations, the Ogimaa Mikana project and its supporters seek to activate a decolonial future where Indigenous language is heard, spoken, and valued.
As a site for bringing together Indigenous and non-indigenous people, Susan sees Tkaronto as unique in its combination of cultural diversity and civic engagement. It can become a place to examine new ways of thinking about solidarity-building and creative practices of resistance in support of an Indigenous resurgence in both language and presence.
Following her presentation, Susan was joined for an onstage discussion with artist and activist Kim Katrin Milan and moderator Karyn Recollet.
The evening opened with a prayer delivered by a traditional teacher.
About Susan Blight, Hancock Lecturer
Susan Blight is Anishinaabe from Couchiching First Nation. A visual artist, filmmaker, and arts educator, Susan’s films and video work have been screened at such venues as Media City International Film Festival, Experiments in Cinema, and the ImagineNative Film and Media Arts Festival. Her most recent short film, “Misaabe”, was included in the 2015 ImagineNATIVE Film and Video National Tour. In addition, Susan has exhibited at Gallery 44, The Print Studio, Platform Centre for Photographic and Digital Arts, and the Art Gallery of Windsor.
Susan is cofounder of The Ogimaa Mikana Project, an artist/activist collective working to reclaim and rename the roads, streets, and landmarks of Anishinaabe territory with Anishinaabemowin and in 2013, she became the fourth member of the Indigenous Routes artist collective which works to provide new media training for Indigenous youth. Her writing—focused on Anishinaabeg resurgence, Indigenous resistance, and anti-oppression—has been published in Shameless Magazine, the Humber Literary Review, Muskrat Magazine, and on the Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society blog.
Susan Blight received a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Windsor in Integrated Media, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies from the University of Manitoba. She is a Presidential Appointee to the Hart House Board of Stewards, co-chair of the Co-Curricular Education Subcommittee of the University of Toronto’s Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee, organizes the annual Indigenous Education Week at the U of T, and is the recipient of a 2014 IDERD award for her antiracism work.
About Kim Katrin Milan, Discussant
Kim is the co-founder and Executive Director of The People Project; an initiative to bring forth local and international community development for queer and trans folks of color and their allies, through alternative education, art-activism, and collaboration. She is also one of the owners of the Glad Day Book Shop, the oldest LGBT bookstore in the world. As an educator, Kim travels around the world talking to people about justice, equity, and human rights. Kim has also been celebrated in Canada as 2016’s National Youth Role Model and nationally as one of the 50 Most Loved Gay Canadians.
Check out Kim’s TED Talk.
About Karyn Recollet, Moderator
Karyn Recollet is an Assistant professor in the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. Karyn is an urban Cree, residing in the traditional territories of the Petun, Wendat, Mississauga’s of the New Credit, Dish with One Spoon treaty territory. Karyn’s research explores the various intersections of Indigenous artistic activations rooted in the multiple layered Indigenous territories that are urban spaces. Karyn’s focal points are choreographic fugitivity, Indigenous futurities, and decolonial love. Karyn’s publications include articles Glyphing Decolonial love, Gesturing Indigenous futurities, and has coedited alongside Eve Tuck, Native Feminist Texts (a special edition of English Journal). Karyn is currently working on a manuscript entitled Urban glyphs: fugitivities, futurities, and radical decolonial love.
Community Kitchen: Connecting People, Food, and the Land
A Community Kitchen inspired by Indigenous food systems, with the aim to help improve understanding of the deep significance of food in connection to the land, as well as the culture and ceremony surrounding food.
When: Tues., Jan. 31, 2017, 6-9 pm
Where: Hart House Catering Kitchen
Cost: $10 (includes HST), U of T Students & Hart House Members /$15 (includes HST), Non-student & Non-members. Tickets available at the Information Hub.
The Blanket Exercise: Experience and Facilitator Training
Developed by KAIROS Canada, the Blanket Exercise is based on participatory popular education methodology and the major themes and findings of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
When: Jan. 19, 2017, 8:30 am-4 pm
Where: East Common Room, Hart House
Cost: Free / Register at www.kairosblanketexercise.org/register by January 13.
Talking Walls Exhibition
In support of this year’s Hancock Lecture that explores the past, present and future of local Indigenous peoples, Hart House presents this Talking Walls exhibit to give everyone an opportunity to learn some Anishinaabemowin!
When: Jan. 27-Feb. 19, 2017
Where: Main Hall, Hart House
More information about this exhibition
Hart House Conversations with Susan Blight
John Monahan, Hart House Warden, sat down with this year’s Hancock Lecturer, Susan Blight, to talk about Indigenous language revitalization, new solidarities, and our decolonial future in Toronto. Watch the live interview from the Map Room.
When: Mon., Feb. 13, 2017, 3-4 pm
Where: Map Room, Hart House / live on CIUT
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The Language of Land: A Poet in Community Workshop Open to All
The word land evokes movement and place. Land as a noun, land as a verb: to land, on the land, home and native land, landed immigrant, land grab, motherland, fatherland, this land is your land. Using writing and drawing, explore the land as you experience it, and as the word lands inside you. In this one and half hour session, write and perhaps share with others the resonance and power of this four letter word.
When: Wed., Feb. 15, 2017, 12-1:30 pm
Where: Bickersteth Room, Hart House
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Talk Like TED
What is your idea worth spreading? What would your Hancock Lecture be? Thousands have shared their ideas by giving a TED Talk and this workshop can help you use the TED Talk formula to prepare your own talk.
When: Tues., March 7, 2017, 5-8 pm
Where: Music Room, Hart House
Cost: $5 / eventbrite.ca
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About the Hancock Lecture
First launched in 2001, the annual Hancock Lecture is one of the biggest events on Hart House’s busy calendar. Organized by students and open to the public, the lecture aspires to ignite public conversation and debate and take issues identified as important by youth to a national audience.
Originally called the Hart House Lecture, it was renamed in 2007 to honour Margaret Hancock’s decade as Warden. For Hart House—a historic gathering place at the University and a home for debate, discussion and critical thought—the Lecture is a fitting medium to nurture civic leadership and participation.
Take a look at our past Hancock Lectures.