Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by Open UBC Week. The open system that used to encourage and trust federal scientists to discuss their work has been replaced by a tightly controlled system that churns out “approved lines.” Margaret Munro’s stories exposing how the Harper government has muzzled and silenced its researchers have attracted national and international attention. Her talk will focus on Ottawa’s muzzles, media offices and message control.


Margaret Munro is an award-winning science writer with Postmedia News, which reaches millions of Canadians through its chain of newspapers including the Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun and Montreal Gazette. Margaret has been to the Arctic to write about global warming, to Cape Canaveral for space launches and to remote First Nations communities to report on devastating diabetes epidemics. She has also documented the remarkable change in federal communication policy.

According to a report to be released Monday by Common Sense Media, the vast majority of young children in the United States are using mobile devices and for much longer periods of time, with an even greater number of babies being exposed to the smartphones and tablets that have become a bigger part of family life.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/survey-for-young-children-mobile-devices-such-as-tablets-smartphones-now-a-mainstay/2013/10/27/7e386f3c-3f1f-11e3-a624-41d661b0bb78_story.html

Photo credit: Genta Masuda (Flickr)

Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by the UBC Museum of Anthropology. This panel followed a performance by artist Peter Morin entitled ‘Hello Darlin’’.

Chair:  John Wynne.
Panelists: Margery Fee, Patrick Moore, Peter Morin, Khelsilem Rivers.

This session explores the museum as a site of cultural contestation and issues of appropriation and commodification. How is cultural identity conveyed in art – by whom and for whom?  We hope to explore a variety of perspectives. One view is that in dealing with Indigenous issues, non-Indigenous artists and researchers are simply engaging in ‘metaphorical microcolonialism’ (Corbett).  Alternatively, some see in cross-cultural collaborations the potential for ‘a dialogue across the boundaries of oppositions’ (Smith).  As such, how do ethical considerations and artistic license co-exist?  Are issue-based and socially-engaged artistic practice simply a less effective form of activism or do they have a unique contribution to make in defining cultural identity and promoting recognition of the value of indigenous languages

About the Participants:

Margery Fee is a Professor of English at UBC where she teaches science fiction, science and technology studies and Indigenous literatures. In 2008, she was Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Peter Wall Institute of Advanced Studies, writing about how some discourses of genetics/genomics contribute to the racialization of minority groups, particularly Indigenous people. Her current research project is Wacousta’s Dilemma: Literature and Land Claims, which examines how land ownership figures in the work of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Patrick Moore is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. He has worked with Athabaskan languages in Alberta, the Yukon, and British Columbia for over three decades. With Angela Wheelock, he translated and co-edited Wolverine: Myths and Visions and Dene Gedeni: Traditional Lifestyles of Kaska Women. He edited a collection of Kaska stories Dene Gudeji: Kaska Narratives and wrote a Kaska, Mountain Slavey and Sekani noun dictionary Gūzāgi K’ū́gé’.

Peter Morin is a Tahltan Nation artist and curator. His work has been exhibited in numerous galleries, including the Royal Ontario Museum, Open Space (Victoria), MOA Satellite Gallery (Vancouver) and Urban Shaman Gallery (Winnipeg). His artistic practice investigates the impact between indigenous culturally-based practices and western settler colonialism. Morin recently completed a series of new performance works for the Indigenity in the Contemporary World research initiative at Royal Holloway University, London, UK.

Khelsilem Rivers was born in North Vancouver, BC in 1989 and recently given the names Sxwchálten and X̱elsílem by his paternal grandmother, Audrey Rivers (Tiyáltelut) of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh. His work has been focused on the rebuilding of Indigenous language fluency in the face of language speaker decline. He is a strong believer that “languages don’t die in healthy communities”, and as such has worked on the concurrent effort of rebuilding healthy community through language-fluency revitalization and vice versa.

John Wynne is an award-winning sound artist whose work includes site-specific installations, ‘composed documentaries’ for radio, projects with speakers of endangered languages and a body of work with heart and lung transplant recipients. He has a PhD from Goldsmiths College, University of London and is a Reader in Sound Arts at the University of the Arts London.


The public symposium ‘On Endangered Languages: Indigeneity, Community, and Creative Practice’ took place at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia on Sept. 14th, 2013. It was co-organized by Karen Duffek, Kate Hennessy, Tyler Peterson, and John Wynne.

Symposium Description:

As the multi-sensory installation Anspayaxw opens for exhibition in the Satellite Gallery in Vancouver, we bring artist John Wynne, linguist Tyler Peterson, anthropologist Kate Hennessy, Musqueam elder Larry Grant, and Gitxsan participants Louise Wilson and Barbara Harris into conversation with scholars and artists on the preservation of endangered languages, the interconnected role of digital media, and engagements with artistic practice.

Linda Tuhiwai Smith has described research as “probably one of the dirtiest words in the indigenous world’s vocabulary” – but as she also acknowledges, “at some points there is, there has to be, dialogue across the boundaries of oppositions.” Beyond the customary exploration of academic interests and language maintenance efforts, this symposium will problematize research and raise questions about the opportunities and consequences of language documentation for local communities and collaborating outsiders.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has drawn attention to the enduring significance of Indigenous languages. Against this backdrop we will explore some of the ways in which language documentation is being used by speakers to communicate identity, sovereignty, and contemporary representations of community. We will further examine the ethical and moral obligations created in the act of documentation, while questioning how research relationships and collaborations might raise awareness of the status of endangered languages. As documentary and archiving technologies rapidly change, we ask what role digital technology plays in the preservation––or conversely, the loss––of documentary media. What are appropriate uses and reuses of language documentation, and who, ultimately, are the beneficiaries of these documentary initiatives? In the context of Anspayaxw, are creative and artistic explorations of language documentation at odds with the goal of revitalization, or do they open up new possibilities for understanding the complex social and historical territory of ongoing colonial relationships?

Wynne’s Anspayaxw (2010) is a 12-channel sound and photography installation based on his collaborations with Tyler Peterson, artist/photographer Denise Hawrysio, and members of the Gitxsan community at Kispiox, British Columbia. Using innovative sound technology, the installation merges recordings of the endangered Gitxsanimaax language, oral histories, and songs with situational portraits of the participants and photographs of hand-made street signs on the reserve made by one of the participants in the 1970s. The work highlights the subjective nature of language documentation, interpretation, and creative expression. The complex relationships between linguistic researchers and language speakers are recognized and represented in image and sound, cut through by questions of power, ownership, and the desire to document, preserve, and revitalize endangered languages.

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