Lecture Series in Fine Arts
Through the generous support of the Orion Fund in Fine Arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, is pleased to present:
A process of reconciliation
Louise Bernice Halfe was born in Two Hills, Alberta. Her Cree name is Sky Dancer. She was raised on the Saddle Lake Indian Reserve and attended Blue Quills Residential School. In February 2021, she became Canada’s first Parliamentary Poet Laureate to come from an Indigenous community. “Being selected as the poet for Parliament is, in fact, a process of reconciliation,” Halfe said in an interview on CBC Radio’s The House. “It’s a step forward for sure. There is no doubt about that.”
Halfe’s first published poetry appeared in Writing the Circle: Women of Western Canada and she has since published five collections: 1994’s Bear Bones & Feathers received the Canadian People’s Poet Award and was a finalist for the Spirit of Saskatchewan Award; 1998’s Blue Marrow was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, Pat Lowther Award and Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award. The Crooked Good was published in 2007.
Her most recent collection, Burning in this Midnight Dream (2016) details Halfe’s personal response to the Truth and Reconciliation process, how the experiences of residential school children continue to haunt those who survive and how the effects are passed down for generations. The book won three Saskatchewan Book Awards and the League of Canadian Poets Raymond Souster Award.
Her latest poetry collection, awâsis – kinky and dishevelled, is forthcoming from Brick Books in April 2021.
Sharing her teachings
Halfe has served as poet laureate of Saskatchewan, the Elder of the University of Saskatchewan and is widely recognized for weaving Cree language and teachings into her works. A collection of Halfe’s work, Sohkeyihta, containing poems written across the expanse of her career, was published by Wilfrid Laurier Press in 2018.
Halfe has a Bachelor of Social Work, and received a Honorary Degree of Letters from Wilfrid Laurier University. She currently works with Elders in an organization called Opikinawasowin (“raising our children”). Halfe lives outside of Saskatoon with her husband.
About the Orion Fund
Established through the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts is designed to bring distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada—and the world—to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and to make their talents and achievements available to faculty, students, staff and the wider Greater Victoria community who might otherwise not be able to experience their work.
The Orion Fund also exists to encourage institutions outside Canada to invite regular faculty members from our Faculty of Fine Arts to be visiting artists/scholars at their institutions; and to make it possible for Fine Arts faculty members to travel outside Canada to participate in the academic life of foreign institutions and establish connections and relationships with them in order to encourage and foster future exchanges.