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The Future through Ancestral Lenses

Photo of Vanessa Watts

September 23, 2020
7:30 pm – 8:30 pm

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Dr. Vanessa Watts, Paul D. MacPherson Chair in Indigenous Studies, moderates a panel of Indigenous language speakers and cultural carriers to discuss how their ancestral language shapes their worldview and how they see this challenging time through that lens. Our current environmental and social crises have been described in apocalyptic terms, and Indigenous people have in many ways survived their own apocalypses since colonization. Indigenous futurism often refers to the idea that Indigenous cultures are not just of the past, but that these knowledge systems can provide guidance for the future. We’ll talk to thought leaders to explore what a healthier future looks like to them.

The panel will include:

Zoe Hopkins is a Heiltsuk and Mohawk woman, born in Bella Bella, a fishing village on the coast of BC.  She is now raising her son in her father’s community of Six Nations, Ontario, where she learned to speak and teach Kanyen’kéha (the Mohawk language.)

Hopkins drew upon her personal connection to the Great Bear Rainforest for her award-winning first feature film, Kayak to Klemtu, which received a theatrical release in Canada, and is distributed in Canada by Mongrel Media. Winner of: Audience Choice Award: imagineNATIVE Film Festival & Powell River Film Festival; Best Canadian First Feature Film: Victoria Film Festival, Best Narrative Feature: CAIIFF, Official Selection: Edinburgh International Film Festival, Leo Awards: Best Actress (Ta’Kaiya Blaney), Best Supporting Actress (Sonja Bennett), Best Director & Best Actor (Lorne Cardinal): American Indian Film Festival.

Hopkins holds a BAA in Film from Ryerson University, and is an alumna of the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program. Her films have screened Internationally at festivals including Sundance and Berlinale. Hopkins is a member of the Embargo Collective; creators of the omnibus feature, The Embargo Project, which included her short film Skyworld (Best Short Film, Niagara Integrated Film Festival).

Zoe is a writer on the soon-to-be broadcast dramatic series entitled, Trickster, based on the much-celebrated book Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson. Also for the small screen, Zoe has directed an episode of the music documentary series, Amplify, for APTN. In 2004, she was Senior Producer on the documentary series, Venturing Forth, also for APTN. She directed 26 episodes of the children’s series Art Zone, produced by Force Four Entertainment.

Zoe is currently in post-production with her sophomore feature, previously entitled Running Home, with Toronto’s Big Soul Productions and Devonshire Productions. Zoe is a member of the Writer’s Guild of Canada.

Tehota’kerá:ton, Dr. Jeremy D. Green is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), wolf clan and from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. His scholarship focuses on language acquisition planning and the role of assessment and evaluation for proficiency development of second language (L2) learners of Indigenous languages. Most recently, he collaborated with diverse stakeholders to design a language and culture mentorship program to help adult Mohawk L2 learners increase their speaking proficiency from the Advanced to the Superior and Distinguished levels. Importantly, to guide learning and create culturally relevant assessment and evaluation tools, this work identified descriptors of Superior and Distinguished level performances specific to the language and culture context within which the language is learned and used.
Tehota’kerá:ton earned his Doctorate in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization from the University of Hawai’i at Hilo in 2020. His dissertation collected, organized and presented a wide variety of language teaching and learning methods deemed effective for the Mohawk language for ease of use by Mohawk language teachers.

Marianne Nicolson is an artist activist of the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nations.  The Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw Nations are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwak’wala speaking peoples) of the Pacific Northwest Coast. She is trained in both traditional Kwakwaka’wakw forms and culture and contemporary gallery and museum-based practice.  She holds a BFA from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design (1996), an MFA (2000) from the University of Victoria, as well as an MA (2005) in Linguistics and Anthropology and a PhD (2013) in Linguistics and Anthropology with a focus on space as expressed in the Kwak’wala language. .  Her practice is multi-disciplinary encompassing photography, painting, carving, video, installation, monumental public art, writing and speaking.  All her work is political in nature and seeks to uphold Kwakwaka’wakw traditional philosophy and worldview through contemporary mediums and technology. Exhibitions include the 17thBiennale of Sydney, Australia; The Vancouver Art Gallery; The National Museum of the American Indian, New York; Nuit Blanche, Toronto; Museum Arnhem, Netherlands and many others.  Major monumental public artworks are situated in Vancouver International Airport, the Canadian Embassy in Amman, Jordan and the Canadian Embassy in Paris, France.

Artist Marianne Nicolson is a member of the Dzawada’enuxw First Nations Tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation.

In partnership with the McMaster Indigenous Studies Program.