Talking Stick Festival, Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires and Cultural Partner SFU Woodward’s present a series of roundtables discussing the evolving Canadian art landscape, impacted by social justice movements, digital shifts, and new funding models.
IBPoC artists drive discourse and redefine the arts, while mainstream organizations seek reconciliation with Indigenous artists. Progress is often slow and complex.
Tues. June 27
Margo Kane, France Trépanier, Chris Creighton-Kelly, Meena Natarajan,
Wed. June 28
Camille Georgeson Usher, Diane Roberts, Haruko Okano, Zool Suleman
Thurs. June 29
Fay Nass, Hafiz Akinlusi, Kelsey Kanatan Wavey, Nathan Mudge
• IBPoC artists learning from each other
• Impact on the arts system
• Decolonial approaches in art
• DIE paradigm limitations
• Representation in cultural & social justice
• Lessons for mainstream organizations
Join us for engaging discussions, followed by lunch and conversation.
Cree-Saulteaux performing artist, Margo Kane is the Founder and Artistic Managing Director of Full Circle: First Nations Performance. For over 45 years she has been active as an actor, performing artist and community cultural worker. Her desire to share artistic performance that has meaning for her people is the catalyst for her extensive work, travels and consultation within Indigenous communities across Canada and abroad. Moonlodge, her acclaimed one-woman show, an Indigenous Canadian classic, toured for over 10 years nationally and internationally. The Sydney Press (AU) during The Festival of the Dreaming praised it as being ‘in the top echelon of solo performance.’
She developed and runs the annual Talking Stick Festival celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year and numerous programs including Moccasin Trek: Arts on the Move!, Indian Acts and an Indigenous Ensemble Performing Arts Program in Vancouver.
She has received numerous awards and honors including an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of the Fraser Valley, the Order of Canada from the Governor-General, an International Citation of Merit from ISPA – International Society for the Performing Arts and most recently, an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from SFU – Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
France Trépanier is a visual artist, curator and researcher. Her artistic and curatorial work has been presented in many venues in Canada, the US and Europe. Her artworks are included in various public and private collections, including the Museum of Civilization in Quebec, the Banff Centre Art Collection and Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV). France co-authored with Chris Creighton-Kelly Understanding Aboriginal Art in Canada Today: a Knowledge and Literature Review for the Canada Council for the Arts. Her essays and articles have been published in numerous journals and magazines. France is co-director of the Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires initiative. She worked as an arts consultant with a wide range of institutions and organisations. She worked at the Canada Council for the Arts before becoming a Senior Arts Policy Advisor for the Department of Canadian Heritage. She held a diplomatic post as First Secretary, Cultural Affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Paris. She directed the Centre for New Media at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris. France was also the co-founder and Director of the artist-run center Axe Néo-7 in Gatineau, Quebec. France is of Kanien’kehà:ka and French ancestry.
Chris Creighton-Kelly is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and cultural critic born in the UK with South Asian/British roots. His performative, usually ephemeral, artworks have been presented across Canada, in India, Europe and USA. He has received grants and awards in five countries. Chris has been persistently interested in questions of absence in art-making. Whose epistemology is unquestioned? Who has power? Who does not? Why not?
For over 30 years, he has worked as an arts consultant for artists; arts organizations and institutions; government agencies in Canada and internationally. In 1989-91, Chris was a consultant to the Canada Council on issues of cultural/racial equity. His work launched the formation of two critical offices – the Aboriginal Arts Office and the Equity Office that have subsequently led the way in transforming the Council from a mostly European arts agency to one in which multiple art traditions and practices are funded. In 1991-92, he worked at the Banff Centre designing and directing a 20 artists’ residency, Race and the Body Politic which indirectly influenced the establishment of the Aboriginal Arts program.
In 2011, he co-authored, along with France Trépanier, Understanding Aboriginal Art in Canada Today. In 2012, they were co-recipients of the inaugural Audain Aboriginal Curatorial Fellowship awarded by Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
Chris appreciates his audiences a lot.
Meena Natarajan is a playwright and director and the Executive and Artistic Director of Pangea World Theater, a progressive, international ensemble space that creates at the intersection of art, equity and social justice. She has led the theater’s growth since it’s founding in 1995. Meena has co-curated and designed many of Pangea World Theater’s professional and community based programs. She has written at least ten full-length works for Pangea, ranging from adaptations of poetry and mythology to original works dealing with war, spirituality, personal and collective memory. Meena leads ensemble-based processes in Pangea that lead to works produced for the stage. She has also directed and dramaturged several original theater and performance art pieces. She is currently on the board of the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists and is a National Theater Project Advisor at New England Foundation for the Arts. She was on the Advisory Committee of the Community Arts Network, was on the founding board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters and was the president of Women’s Playwrights International between 2000-2003. She has been awarded grants from the Theatre Communications Group, Playwrights Center and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She was recently awarded the Visionary Award for mid-career leaders from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
Dipankar Mukherjee is a professional director originally from Calcutta, India with a 25-year history of directing. He is the Artistic Director of Pangea World Theater. He co-founded Pangea World Theater, an international theater in Minneapolis that is a progressive space for arts and dialogue. His aesthetics have evolved through his commitment to social justice, equity and deep spirituality and these factors along with relevant politics form the basis of his work. As a director, he has worked in India, England, Canada and the United States.
Dipankar has received the Humphrey Institute Fellowship to Salzburg and has been a Ford Foundation delegate to India and Lebanon. He is a recent recipient of the Bush Leadership Fellowship award to study non-violence and peace methodologies in India and South Africa. Dipankar was invited to visit the White House as part of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Delegation. In his rehearsal and workshop practices, Dipankar’s facilitated processes that work to disrupt colonial, racist and patriarchal modalities that we have inherited and collaboratively searches for an alternate way of working.
Camille Georgeson-Usher is a Coast Salish / Sahtu Dene / Scottish scholar, curator, and writer from Galiano Island, BC. Her research focuses on the many ways in which peoples move together in urban space, expansive other-than-human relationalities, and intimate moments of gathering with space. She completed her masters at Concordia University and is completing her PhD at Queen’s University, she previously was the Executive Director of the Indigenous Curatorial Collective, and also serves on several boards and committees including Co-Chair of the Toronto Biennial of Art and Board Member of the Galiano Literary Festival. She is an Assistant Professor with specific focuses on Indigenous contemporary art and art history starting a tenure-track position at UBC in July 2023.
Diane Roberts is an accomplished director, dramaturge, writer and cultural animator, who has collaborated with innovative theatre visionaries and interdisciplinary artists for the past 30 years. Her directorial and dramaturgical work has been seen on stages across Canada and her reputation as a mentor, teacher and community collaborator is nationally and internationally recognized.
Haruko Okano is third generation Japanese Canadian, born in Toronto, Ontario. She was raised by her mother Fujie, until her death, when Haruko was 8 years old. Thereafter she became a permanent ward of the foster care system. She moved to Vancouver in 1973.
Since the Japanese Canadian Redress settlement, she has been an avid cultural and human rights advocate with a specific interest in the arts, art institutions and the colonial framework that has defined art in Canada. Her work as an interdisciplinary artist focuses on community, grassroots relationality, collaborative partnerships and alternative creative processes that integrate the holistic perspective of indigenous cultures with tools for unlearning inherited colonial ways of being. In her elder years she has become a mentor of emerging artist, consultant for emerging artist collective seeking alternative structures of support.
Zool Suleman is an advocate, writer and cultural collaborator. He is the Editor of Rungh and the Executive Director of the Rungh Cultural Society. He co-founded Rungh (1991), as a national South Asian focused arts initiative and relaunched Rungh in 2017 as a creative platform for Indigenous, Black and racialized artist conversations.
As an arts advocate, he protested against the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exclusionary art practices as an active member of the Artists’ Coalition for Local Colour. He was a founding member of the Minquon Panchayat, one of Canada’s first national IBPOC-led artist movements which challenged the lack of anti-racism initiatives in Canada’s artist-run-centres and arts institutions. Appointed by the BC Minister of Culture, he co-chaired a province-wide Status of the Artist Committee, which was instrumental in the formation of the BC Arts Council.
Over the last three decades, he has been involved in various capacities with the Canada Council for the Arts, Heritage Canada, the Province of BC and the City of Vancouver. In addition to his engagements as a cultural connector, he advocates for immigrants and refugees and has been active in national and local civil society initiatives against racism, racial profiling and Islamophobia.
Fay Nass is a community-engaged director, writer, dramaturg, innovator, producer and educator. They are the Artistic Director of the frank theatre company and the founder/Artistic Director of Aphotic Theatre.
Fay has over 17 years of experience in text-based and devised work deeply rooted in inter-cultural and collaborative approaches. Fay’s work often examines questions of race, gender, sexuality, culture and language through an intersectional lens in order to shift meanings and de-construct paradigms rooted in our society. Fay’s work celebrates liminality and trans-culturalism, and blurs the line between politics and intimate personal stories.
Fay’s work has been presented at PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, SummerWorks Festival, Queer Arts Festival, the CULTCH and Firehall Arts Centre. Her readings and experimental work have been presented at various conferences and artist-run galleries in Spain, Berlin and Paris. Their co-creation project Be-Longing was part of the 2021 New York international Film Festival, NICE International Film Festival and Madrid International Film Festival.
Their most recent credits include: co-creating Be-Longing (the frank theatre), co-directing Trans Script Part I: The Women (the frank theatre and Zee Theatre at Firehall Arts Centre), directing She Mami Wata & the Pussy WitchHunt (the frank theatre at PuSh Festival 2020), co-directing Straight White Men (ITSAZOO productions at Gateway Theatre), and dramaturgy for Camera Obscura (Hungry Ghosts) (the frank theatre & QAF). Fay holds an MFA from Simon Fraser University. Currently, they are doing the Artistic Leadership Residency at the National Theatre School of Canada.
As an artistic leader and a practitioner, Fay has deep and involved relationships—both creative and organizational—with a wide spectrum of artists across generations and stylistic practices. As an educator and facilitator, their philosophy and pedagogy are rooted in anti-racism and anti-oppression.
Hafiz Akinlusi holds a degree in Economics from Simon Fraser University, and is focused on developing more sustainable, and equitable systems. He has worked in various roles spanning from tech to finance, and is now focused on the arts. He is specifically interested in ensuring more equitable distribution of resources to black, Indigenous and other BIPOC artists. He is also one of the founders of Madebywe; a collective that uses different mediums to explore ideas around identity and community. He is also currently learning to play the piano.
Kelsey Kanatan Wavey (they/she/he) is a gender fluid multidisciplinary artist currently based in so-called Vancouver. Kelsey was born and raised in Treaty 1, Winnipeg, is 5th generation settler of German/British/Norwegian ancestry and Muskeg Ininowahk (Swampy Cree), and is a proud member of Tataskweyak Cree Nation (Treaty #5).
Kelsey attended Studio 58 to study acting, and has been working as an actor, writer, director, and curator since graduating in 2019. Kelsey is also a singer and is working on self-releasing their work with Indigenous indie pop duo “EVERB0DY”, as well as sings with two femme Indigenous drumming group “M’girl” and “iskwew singers”. Some of their recent theatre acting work includes In My Day (Zeezee theatre), The Rez Sisters, Women of the Fur Trade (MTC), Making the Mystics, Break Horizons: a Concert Documentary (Urban Ink and The Cultch). You may have seen their recent directing work in Cerulean Blue (Studio 58) and Gather: Stories in Nature (Neworld and Pacific Theatre).
Nathan Tamakeu Mudge, a Cook Island Māori hailing from Aotearoa New Zealand, has an impressive trajectory in the world of theatre. From his formative experiences at Long Cloud Youth Theatre in Wellington to leading roles in prominent projects such as “The Motor Camp” and “Sunset Road,” Nathan has garnered respect and accolades, including notable awards from the Wellington Theatre Awards. Beyond performing, he has made substantial contributions as a producer with Ngā Hua Toi and Kia Mau Festival and deepened accessibility in the arts during his tenure with Aotearoa NZ International Festival of the Arts. Now, contributing his expertise in the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, he’s an associate producer at Full Circle: First Nations Performance, where he’s fervently weaving together diverse Indigenous stories and fostering collaborations across the Pacific.