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SOLD OUT! SMOKE SIGNALS – Indigenous Communication Conference

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Smoke Signals
 October 25, 2019
 9:30 am - 10:30 am
We're sorry, but all tickets sales have ended because the event is expired.

Hosted by Creative Manitoba Indigenous Programs in partnership with Urban Shaman Gallery of Contemporary Indigenous Art and Manitoba Arts Council.

October 25, 2019  9:30am-4:30pm

SMOKE SIGNALS is a gathering of community-engaged artists and arts leaders examining the importance of our Indigenous voices in the art and media world. The smoke signal is one of the oldest forms of long-distance communication used to gather people together for celebration, to transmit news, and to signal danger. We will touch on each of those elements throughout a day of panels, keynotes and conversations.

To be an Indigenous artist or artisan is quite a different calling than to be an artist in the European tradition. The function of art and craft extends beyond aesthetic pleasure – it is embedded in daily life, family connection, traditional teachings as well as in dreaming lore and spirituality. We recognize the unique ability our Indigenous perspectives have to transform and galvanize community, celebrating our role as artists and acknowledging the importance of reclaiming our own narrative as oral historians. What is the historical role of artists within the Indigenous community, what are protocols for engagement? how does technology work within tradition? How does that act of creation save lives? How can we involve our youth?

The days discussions have been drawn from conversations happening locally within our community.  In addition to the panels and conversations of the day, University of Manitoba Press will be onsite to offer their incredible selection of Indigenous subject and authored books for purchase.

Location: Marlborough Hall in the Marlborough Hotel, 331 Smith St, Wpg, MB

Coffee, tea, morning pastries and a light lunch included.

Schedule of Events

9:30-10am Registration, Light Refreshments
10–10:20am Opening Ceremony with Elder Albert McLeod
10:20-10:30am Opening Remarks with Kim Wheeler and David McLeod
10:30-11:45am INDIGITAL – Technology and Traditions: How does technology affect traditions and how are traditions effected by technology? How we can use technology to share our visions?
With live performance demos by Rhayne Vermette, and Bret Parenteau , with Jennifer SmithCourtesy of The Canada Council for the Arts Digital Literacy Fund
12–1 pm Light Lunch Catered by the Marlborough Hotel

University of Manitoba Press on site with guest Acquisitions Editor – Jill McConkey

1–2 pm Keynote Address – by Dr. Niigaan Sinclair
2:15-3 pm ART SAVES LIVESWhy we create and how we can encourage our youth

With Issa Kixen, Erica Daniels, Darla Contois, Elizabeth Barron

3:15-4:15pm SAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE – decolonizing art practices, respectful engagement and preventing ‘tokenism’

With Lori Blondeau, KC Adams, Isaac Murdoch, Christi Belcourt

4:15-4:30pm Closing Ceremony

GUESTS and PANELISTS- Biographies

Elder Albert McLeod

Elder Albert McLeod is a Status Indian with ancestry from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and the Metis community of Norway House in northern Manitoba. He has over thirty years of experience as a human rights activist and is one of the directors of the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba.
Albert began his Two-Spirit advocacy in Winnipeg in 1986 and became an HIV/AIDS activist in 1987. He was the director of the Manitoba Aboriginal AIDS Task Force from 1991 to 2001. In 2018, Albert received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Winnipeg and received the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) 2019 Champions of Mental Health Award for Community (Individual). Albert lives in Winnipeg, where he works as a consultant specializing in Indigenous peoples, cultural reclamation, and cross-cultural training.



KC Adams

KC Adams is a Winnipeg-based artist who graduated from Concordia University with a B.F.A in studio arts.  Adams has had several solo exhibitions, group exhibitions and been in three biennials, including the PHOTOQUAI: Biennale des images du monde in Paris, France. Adams participated in residencies at the Banff Centre, the Confederation Art Centre in Charlottetown, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Parramatta Arts Gallery in Australia. Her work is in many permanent collections Nationally and Internationally. Twenty pieces from the Cyborg Hybrid series are in the permanent collection of the National Art Gallery in Ottawa and four trees from Birch Bark Ltd, are in the collection of the Canadian Consulate of Australia, NSW. She was the scenic designer for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation. She helped design a 30-foot public art sculpture called Niimama for the Winnipeg Forks and a piece for the United Way of Winnipeg called Community. Adams was awarded the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Making A Mark Award and Canada’s Senate 150 medal recipient for her accomplishments with her Perception Photo Series.



Liz Barron

Elizabeth Barron has been involved with self-directed contract work for the last 20 years. Liz’s background includes facilitation, strategic development and management skills in the not for profit sector. She partners with other like-minded businesses for contracts and has extensive background in Aboriginal and diversity issues within a not for profit. Liz is dedicated to building strategies and programs that target, motivate and engage Indigenous artists and organizations working in all cultural milieu. She is a sought-after resource to artist run centres in Canada, having worked with galleries in Manitoba, British Columbia and Ontario. With close to 20 years of experience in governance and development, she has devoted her career to supporting Indigenous artists and organizations within contemporary art and art cultures.



Christi Belcourt

Christi Belcourt is a renowned Michif (Métis) visual artist with a deep respect for Mother Earth, the traditions and the knowledge of her people. Christi’s work is found within the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gabriel Dumont Institute, Parliament Hill and many more. In addition to the arts, community projects such as Walking With Our Sisters and collaborations with Valentino, she is also respected as a grassroots leader, environmentalist and advocate for the lands, waters and Indigenous peoples. She and Isaac Murdoch form the Onaman Collective which focuses on collaboration, art, resurgence of language and revitalization of land based traditional arts practices. Together, with others, they built Nimkii Aazhbikoong, a year round language and traditional camp for Youth and Elders. She is author of Medicines To Help Us (Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2007) and Beadwork (Ningwakwe Learning Press, 2010), co-editor of Keetsahnak (University of Alberta Press, 2018) and editor of Nenaboozhoo and other Creation Stories by Isaac Murdoch (Keegadonce Press, 2019).



Photo of Lori Blondeau by David Lipnowski

Lori Blondeau is interdisciplinary artist working primarily in performance/photography and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba in the School of Art. Blondeau holds an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan, winning the Humanities & Fine Arts Thesis Award and she apprenticed with James Luna from 1998-2001. Blondeau has exhibited and performed nationally and internationally including the Banff Centre; Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; Open Space, Victoria; FOFA, Montreal. In 2007, Blondeau was part of the Requickening project with artist Shelly Niro at the Venice Biennale and recently had a solo exhibition at Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery, Winnipeg and was part of the Scotia Bank Contact Festival in Toronto. Her art is held in both public gallery and private collections.



Darla Contois

Darla Contois is an award winning theatre artist from Grand Rapids Cree Nation in Manitoba. She studied theatre at Manitoba Theatre for Young People, University of Manitoba, and is an esteemed graduate of a three-year professional training program at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto. Darla has appeared most recently in Happy Place (Thom Morgan Jones/Praire Theatre Exchange). She has also been facilitating arts workshops on Treaty One territory with inner-city Indigenous youth.



Erica Daniels

Erica Daniels is Cree/Ojibway from Peguis First Nation. She is a proud mother, an award winning filmmaker and is the owner of Kejic Productions providing Video Production, Photography and Graphic Design. Erica started her journey through a multimedia program for at-risk-youth called Just TV at the age of 16 and is an alumni of the National Screen Institute’s New Indigenous Voices Program. Through these programs, Erica was able to better her life and gain extensive skills that led to a life as a full time entrepreneur. Her most recent film, Run As One – The Journey of the Front Runners, is being shared in film festivals across the globe and has won numerous awards. Along with her passion of storytelling, is her passion to work with Indigenous youth in her community by reconnecting them to their culture and identity. She currently runs a cultural program at the Broadway Neighbourhood Centre and mentors youth in video production. The beauty of her culture continuously inspires Erica’s work and motivates her to share the knowledge of her elders for future generations.



Issa Kixen

Issa Kixen is an Anishinaabe Two Spirit Comedian/Producer whose roots lay in Couchiching First Nation, Ontario. They have travelled across Canada and the USA as a Comedian and improviser. They use comedy as a tool in dealing with racism, homophobia and sexism. They are the Co-founder/producer of WOKE Comedy Hour, featured on APTN’s The Laughing Drum, Co-produces Queer and Present Danger MB and they are the executive producer for Minogondaagan: the good voice podcast.



Jill McConkey

Jill McConkey (MA) has worked in scholarly publishing for twenty years, primarily in the fields of history and literature and specializing in Indigenous studies. After a decade at University of Toronto Press, she became University of Manitoba Press’s first dedicated acquisitions editor. Pursuing the highest standards of scholarship, including rigorous peer review, and working closely with scholars to develop their work for publication, Jill strives to maintain UMP’s reputation for bringing new scholarship to wide audiences, promoting work by emerging scholars, and publishing innovative work in Indigenous studies and history. She also volunteers as a prison librarian in Winnipeg.



David McLeod

David McLeod is a member of the Pine Creek First Nation and has over 25 years of experience working in media. He is the CEO of Native Communications Incorporated (NCI-FM), which owns and operates a Manitoba wide radio network, including the Winnipeg station NOW Country 104.7 FM. He has been instrumental in establishing the multiple-award winning Indigenous Music Countdown (IMC) currently heard on 14 stations across Canada including SiriusXM. He is currently a board member with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), the Winnipeg International Writers Festival and the Winnipeg Folk Festival. He has also hosted book launches at McNally Robinson and curated the ‘Speak Up” exhibition in June at the National Music Centre in Calgary. David studied media at Ryerson University in Toronto and SAIT in Calgary.



Isaac Murdoch

Isaac Murdoch, whose Ojibway name is Manzinapkinegego’anaabe / Bombgiizhik is from the fish clan and is from Serpent River First Nation. Isaac grew up in the traditional setting of hunting, fishing and trapping. Many of these years were spent learning from Elders in the northern regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Isaac is well respected as a storyteller and traditional knowledge holder. For many years he has led various workshops and cultural camps that focuses on the transfer of knowledge to youth. Other areas of expertise include: traditional ojibway paint, imagery/symbolism, harvesting, medicine walks, & ceremonial knowledge, cultural camps, Anishinaabeg oral history, birch bark canoe making, birch bark scrolls, Youth & Elders workshops, etc. He has committed his life to the preservation of Anishinaabe cultural practices and has spent years learning directly from Elders. Isaac is the author and Illustrator (along with Christi Belcourt) of The Trail of Nenaboozhoo and Other Creation Stories, being launched in fall 2019.



Bret Parenteau

Bret Parenteau is a sound artist based in Winnipeg. Under the initials B.P., Parenteau has been crafting his formula of noise, field recording, & tape manipulation for the past few years. Parenteau has released a steady amount of work across Canada, US & internationally. He runs a cassette label Makade (Black) Star and formerly Male Activity (2013-2019). Bret is currently the Marketing Coordinator at ARP Books.




Dr. Niigaan Sinclair

Dr. Niigaanwewidom James Sinclair is Anishinaabe and originally from St. Peter’s (Little Peguis) Indian Settlement near Selkirk, Manitoba. He is a regular commentator on Indigenous issues for CTV, CBC, and APTN and his critical and creative work can be found in books such as The Exile Edition of Native Canadian Fiction and Drama, newspapers like The Guardian, and online with CBC Books: Canada Writes. He is also the co-editor of the award-winning Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water (Highwater Press, 2011) and Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World Through Stories (Michigan State University Press, 2013). Niigaan is currently on sabbatical as Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba, Indigenous literatures, cultures, histories, and politics. As a columnist with the Winnipeg Free Press since 2018, writer Niigaan Sinclair has been named Canada’s best columnist, winning a distinguished National Newspaper Award in March 2019.



Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith is a Métis curator, writer and arts administrator from Treaty One Territory.  She works at Video Pool Media Arts Centre as the Distribution Manager. Jennifer has curated exhibits and video programs for the Manitoba Craft Council, Video Pool Media Arts Centre, Open City Cinema, MAWA, the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library, and in 2018 was the Indigenous Curator in Residence at aceartinc. Essays she has written have been published in Studio Magazine and Paperwait. Jennifer is the President of the board for the Coalition of Canadian Independent Media Art Distributors that runs and sits on the board of the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition and Platform Centre for Photographic + Digital Arts.




Rhayne Vermette

Rhayne Vermette – Following a very conscious departure from architectural academia, Metis filmmaker Rhayne Vermette (b. 1982, Notre Dame de Lourdes, Manitoba), figured a distinctive craft within the construction of images through film and photography. Primarily self-taught, her artistic practice comes into focus through a volume of analogue moving images works exceeding over 20 short films. Her body of work highlights the development of a clear signature in style, refracted through an opulent approach to cinematography, edit and sound design. Rhayne’s films have screened at innumerable occasions including Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Images Film Festival, Jihlava International Film Festival, European Media Arts Festival, DOXA, Melbourne International Animation Festival, and highlights a retrospective at TIFF in 2019, and the Canadian Film Institute in 2020. Rhayne was featured in the group exhibition Oneself, and one another in 2018 at Ace Art, and has upcoming shows at le Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain in 2019, and Platform Centre in 2020. In 2016, Rhayne was awarded the Hot House award which was created by the Winnipeg Film Group to recognize the career of an established filmmaker in Manitoba. The award supported the creation of her first feature length script, Ste. Anne, which is currently in production with an anticipated release in 2020.



Kim Wheeler

Kim Wheeler has brought positive Indigenous stories to both the mainstream and Indigenous media for over 25 years. She began her journalism career at the Edmonton Journal. In 2008, she joined CBC Radio One where she produced award-winning shows like: ReVision Quest, Indian Summer and most recently UnReserved. Her work has been honoured at New York Festivals, ImagineNative, Prix Italia, Indigenous Music Awards, and the Gabriels. She has also been named as a Distinguished Alumni from her alma mater MacEwan University. Very recently, Kim has accepted a teaching position at the School of Indigenous Education at Red River College in the Social Innovation program.



Smoke Signals
 October 25, 2019
 9:30 am - 10:30 am
We're sorry, but all tickets sales have ended because the event is expired.

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Creative Manitoba reserves the right to cancel or postpone any event where a minimum registration level has not been met. Participants registered for an event that is cancelled by Creative Manitoba will receive a full refund.

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