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Reflections on Collaboration

Image: Sophie McCall leading a discussion on collaboration outside Algoma University, formerly Shingwauk Indian Residential School.

Participant Naomi Angel blogs about attending the Forum at tracingmemory.com:

This past weekend, I had the honour of attending Reconciliation Work(s) in Progress: An Innovation Forum in Sault Ste Marie. It was a challenging, inspiring, and hopefully, productive event. Instead of conference presentations, the event was set up as a series of roundtable discussions where participants could have conversations about reconciliation (or conciliation as some participants preferred) and the role of art and artists in the process. On Saturday, most of the academics packed up to leave and the artists stayed behind for the “incubation” period. They were charged with the task of working through many of the points of conversation (and contention) that were raised throughout the few days of the event.

Sometimes writing a dissertation can be isolating. It can feel like you are busy creating relationships with books, instead of with people. The event in Sault Ste Marie encouraged connection and collaboration, as well as dialogue and art practice as a way to engage reconciliation. I’m looking forward to following the progress (and process) of the talented artists participating in this event. If you want to follow it too, check out ReWorks, the online site for the project.

In the meantime, I am left with the feeling that reconciliation is an act of creation.  It is about new conversations and discussions, about creating new archives, producing artwork, dialogue and new relationships. The event in Sault Ste. Marie was not only about creative collaboration, but collaborative creation as one way in which the process of reconciliation can move forward.


Reconciliation through music



This video was included in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibit this past summer on Indigenous Hip-Hop Culture. To me, it confronts viewers/listeners with an audiovisual collage of representations of First Nations peoples from mainstream media, thereby both critiquing those representations and inviting reflection on how First Nations peoples and cultures are being represented in mainstream media culture today.

For more music and info, visit http://rpm.fm/music. This site features a ton of up-and-coming Indigenous hip-hop artists, including these guys (http://rpm.fm/music/download-beaatz-one-last-time/), who do a fantastic job blending political, thought-provoking lyrics with hard-hitting beats and excellent flows. One of them is only 15 years old!

Eighth Fire – modeling dynamic cross-cultural dialogue

If you haven’t yet had the chance to take in CBC’s well-produced documentary series, “Eighth Fire,” I’d highly recommend watching its most recent installment, “Indigenous in the City.” With engaging host Wab Kinew facilitating, the episode takes a fascinating look at the realities of urban life, where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are living in close proximity in greater and greater numbers. This series is tremendously exciting because it provides viewers of all cultures with a focused look at various aspects of the lives of Indigenous people in Canada. Kinew talks with elders, digital artists, scholars, and rappers, all of whom weigh in on “reconciliation” as a concept and a lived reality.