Alumni activity this fall

Looking for a good example of the interdisciplinary impact of Fine Arts alumni on the local arts scene? Consider the recent CRD Arts Champion Summit held in December, which included presentations by a wide range of our alumni including Mercedes Bátiz-Benét (Writing), Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde (Visual Arts), Sarah Jim (Visual Arts), Regan Shrumm (AHVS) and Tiffany Tjosvold (Theatre).

But that’s just one event our alumni have been involved with. Read on to discover much more alumni activity this fall.

Art History & Visual Studies

Dorian Jesse Fraser was featured as part of the Alumni Relations webinar Pop Goes The Art! on Oct 19, which was hosted by AHVS chair Marcus Milwright and featured Legacy Gallery’s Caroline Riedel. The webinar was part of the current Legacy Maltwood exhibit Eric Metcalfe: Pop Anthropology, a career retrospective of 2021 honorary doctorate and Visual Arts alum Eric Metcalfe. Fraser was also interviewed in the fall issue of The Torch, UVic’s alumni magazine.

Laura-Beth Keane led the creation of Giving Tuesday’s “Add Sprinkles” sculptural installation in UVic’s quad. The creation of this brightly coloured installation was assisted by current AHVS Masters candidate Sophie Ladd and Museum Studies minor Jade Guan, along with four other community volunteers.

There’s plenty of alumni now at Open Space arts centre, where Amena Sharmin is the new operations manager, Dani Neira returns as the curatorial assistant, and India Rael Young has taken up the position of acting board president.

Keane adds sprinkles

Sad news, however, in the loss of former sessional and MA/PhD alum Dr. Gillian Mackie, who recently passed away at the age of 90. A scholar of Early Christian art and iconography, Mackie’s PhD thesis won her the Governor General’s gold medal and her book Early Christian Chapels in the West is a standard reference. She was also an accomplished potter and some of her stoneware and porcelain pieces are in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the UVic Art Collection.

School of Music

Marion Newman has been named the new host of CBC Radio’s venerable Saturday Afternoon at the Opera. Following the retirement of longtime host, Ben Heppner, A mezzo-sporano Newman who recently appeared in Pacific Opera Victoria’s Missing. Now based in Toronto, Newman—a member of the Kwagiulth and Stó:lo First Nations—is the sister of Impact Chair Carey Newman.

Distinguished Alumna and celebrated pianist Eve Egoyan returned to campus this fall to work with students and present a guest lecture about recent piano projects involving a physical modelling synthesizer, which she also demonstrated.

UK-based composer Cassandra Miller has just been signed to an exclusive publishing agreement with Faber Music, while clarinetist Heather Roche has remained active with performances despite the pandemic, including this recent interview in The Guardian.

Marion Newman

Nashville-based recording artists and Distinguished Alumni Twin Kennedy—aka Carli and Julie Kennedy—returned to Victoria for a pair of holiday fundraising concerts with the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy at the Royal Theatre in December. Twin Kennedy were also featured on CBC Radio’s All Points West in October, speaking about their latest EP and making a life in music; in other Twin Kennedy news, their recent production Wise Woman – The Show was shortlisted for the 2021 Canadian Country Music Awards in the “Country Music Program/Special of the Year” category.

Tenor Josh Lovell recently won the s’hertogenbosch Competiton in the Netherlands and the Belvedere Competition in Germany, and was the only Canadian to make it to the semi-finals of the Rolex Operalia competition in Moscow. Tenor Kaden Forsberg was a finalist in the 2021 Lotte Lenya Competition in New York City. Kaden also recently appeared in Victoria with Pacific Opera Victoria’s summer series (and has been a regular with the company since 2014). Forsberg has also started his own group, the Volare Tenors, with fellow alum Taylor Fawcett.

Theatre

In one of those fascinating change-of-life stories, actor-turned-bread-man Markus Spodzieja has opened The Bikery, Victoria’s first kosher bakery.

Morgan Gadd’s new production of Dog Sees God took the stage at Theatre Inconnu this December, and was covered in this recent Martlet article—which notes how Gadd met Inconnu artistic director and longtime sessional Clayton Jevne while enrolled in Theatre. This production also features current student Tianxu Zhao in the cast.

Nicholas Guerreiro was shortlisted for the Playwrights Guild of Canada 2021 Emerging Playwright Award for his new play, Green Knight on the Frog River, which was also recently published by the PGC.  In related news, director & playwright Nicole Natrass was shortlisted for the PGC’s Bras D’Or Award

Markus Spodzieja

Leslie Bland recently rebranded the company he shares with Indigenous cultural archeological monitor Harold Joe under the new name/ brand Orca Cove Media. The story was picked up by both Deadline (US) and Playback (Canada). Their latest documentary, A Cedar Is Life, was featured in this recent article in the Ladysmith Chemainus Chronicle.

Ian Case directed the play The Shadow in the Water by David Elendune as part of the 2021 Victoria Fringe Festival.  Other Theatre alumni who were involved with productions in this year’s Victoria Fringe Festival include Zoë WesslerEmma NewtonArielle PermackKapila RegoRahat SainiNicholas GuerreiroCam CulhamConnie McConnellMelissa TaylorAndrew FraserLogan SwainNicholas AtkinsonShayla PreadyConor FarrellKevin Eastman and Jim Leard, plus Visual Arts alum Kara Flanagan.

Visual Arts

 While it’s not necessarily where you’d expect a Visual Arts alum to pop up, Amy Anderson is the new film programmer for UVic’s venerable movie theatre Cinecenta. She was interviewed in the fall issue of the Torch on the occasion of Cinecenta’s 50th anniversary.  

Congratulations go out to Jordan Hill on being named a runner-up in the 2021 Philip B. Lind Emerging Artist Prize in September; one of 17 finalists nominated this year—including Visual Arts alumni Levi Glass and Graham Wiebe—Jordan wins $1,500 as a runner-up.

Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde participated in a webinar panel discussion on the State of the Arts in Greater Victoria in October, and also presented MOTHER – An Afternoon of Ten Short Films at the Belfry Theatre. Featuring a variety of Indigenous performers and performance, all these films were inspired, enacted and created on the land and waters of the lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ territories.

Amy Anderson (photo: Michael Kissinger)

Ireland-based Enda Burke was featured in this August article in The Guardian, which focused on his award-winning series, “Homebound With My Parents”—where he transformed his COVID lockdown into a series of “wittily deadpan” dayglo images.

Duane Ensing was featured in this August Victoria News article about his involvement with the local architecture firm Villamar Design. “I feel as an artist or a creative person, I like to leave my mind open to the possibilities of doing something, even exploring things that I don’t even know whether we can do it, but saying, let’s explore the possibility,” he says.

Writing

Congratulations to English/Writing alum Lise Gaston on winning the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize with her heartbreaking poem, “James” —which was selected out of 3,000+ entries! She wins $6K & a residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. (If the name rings a bell, it’s because she’s another of the incredibly talented children of retired Writing professor Bill Gaston & author Dede Crane.)

Congrats are also due to Sara Cassidy on winning the 2021 Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize at the recent BC Yukon Book Prizes with her latest book, Genius Jolene, and to Susan Sandford Blades on winning the 2021 ReLit Award and being shortlisted for the 2021 BC and Yukon Book Prizes Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for her first novel, Fake It So Real; she was recently interviewed by Capital Daily, as well as being featured on their podcast.

Lise Gaston

Professor emeritus Lorna Crozier’s Through the Garden: A Love Story (with Cats) was one of the finalists for the $5,000 Victoria Book Prize this fall, alongside Kyeren Regehr (Cult Life). Also among the finalists for the $5,000 Victoria Children’s Book Prize was Melanie Siebert (Heads Up: Changing Minds on Mental Health).

Michael LaPointe released his debut novel The Creep, and was interviewed for The Torch. Danielle Janess appeared at Planet Earth Poetry in October for an in-person reading from her new volume, The Milk of Amnesia; she also had fall readings scheduled for Olympia and Seattle.

Arno Kopecky has a new book, The Environmentalist’s Dilemma: Promise and Peril in an Age of Climate Crisis, for which he was interviewed for this Tyee article. Kopecky is a frequently contributor to The Tyee, including this new piece about UVic atmospheric scientist and former BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver.  Jenessa Joy Klukas has been named the new Education and Child Welfare Reporter for IndigiNews, following on her fellowship at The Tyee earlier this year.

Writing the Land, a new documentary series that arrived on CBC Gem last week, combines a travelogue concept with profiles of 12 of the country’s top authors—including Esi Edugyan, who features in Episode 1. You can stream the complete series right now.

Recent Writing MFA and Governor General’s Award winner Kim Senklip Harvey was featured in this Sept episode of the national CBC Radio show (skip to the 00:52 min mark). Harvey, now working on her PhD in Indigenous Law at UVic, was speaking about her new production Break Horizons: A Concert Documentary, as well as her work as an Indigenous playwright. As part of her GG win, Harvey was also commissioned to write G’waan, a new piece for CBC Books “Moving Forward” series, which reflects on her Tsilhqot’in land work, childhood adventures and penchant for cream soda slurpees. Theatre’s new Staging Equality series featured a staged reading of her GG winning play Kamloopa in November, and Harvey also wrote a first-person essay for the fall issue of the Torch.

Writing MFA alum Ellery Lamm presented her latest play this fall with Theatre SKAM’s Young Company: The Fates also involved Theatre alumni Anna Marie AndersonOlivia Wheeler and current student Riley Schaffner.

Busy film director Jeremy Lutter has released a new music video for local singer-songwriter Justin Hewitt. You can stream the lush “The Ways to Love You” here.

Media & faculty activity this fall

There’s been no shortage of faculty activity beyond our departments this fall, with a wide range of professors and instructors appearing in the media, participating in festivals and exhibitions, or lending their expertise to workshops and symposia.

Art History & Visual Studies

Melia Belli Bose recently participated in a presentation for UVic’s Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives, speaking on “Artistic Journeys through Asia in Multiple Objects“, while Marcus Milwright and Menno Hubregtse spoke at the recent on-campus colloquium Bauhaus, Design, and the Livable Anthropocene.

Allan Antliff recently published “The Politics of Indigeneity, Anarchist Praxis, and Decolonization” in a special issue of Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies, along with “Indigeneity, Sovereignty, Anarchy: A Dialog With Many Voices”, co-written with Gord Hill. Mitch Parry participated in Pender Island’s Crisp Festival, while Victoria Wyatt appeared in an episode of the  UVic Bounce podcast, a faculty-led initiative providing meaningful resources to support student wellness, mental health, and academic resilience.

School of Music

Current postdoc Taylor Brook was featured in a seven-page article in the Fall issue of Musicworks magazine, which also included a CD featuring two tracks of his music. Suzanne Snizek’s new CD, Chamber Music (Re)discoveries, was released this fall on the Centaur label, while Harald and Sharon Krebs have had a set of arrangements of songs by Josephine Lang accepted for publication by German music publisher Furore Verlag.

Benjamin Butterfield and Kinza Tyrrell were featured on CBC Radio’s This Is My Music, and Butterfield’s “Art Song’s Truth” appeared in Art Song Canada online magazine. Current Music & Computer Science student Baylee Shields was featured in BC Local News and Music’s 5 Days of Action concerts were featured in the Capital Daily as well as the Martlet.

Theatre

As well as welcoming live audiences back into their theatre, Phoenix’s fall production Dead Man’s Cell Phone was covered by the Times Colonist, Monday Magazine, the Saanich News and the Martlet.

Current Theatre PhD candidate Lindsay Delaronde participated in the “State of the Arts in Greater Victoria” panel discussion, organized by online media outlet Capital Daily, while Sasha Kovacs and Puente Theatre founder Lina de Guevara appeared on the CFUV radio show Postales Musicales de Latinoamérica, discussing Theatre’s new Staging Equality series and their recent presentation of Journey to Mapu.

Dead Man’s Cell Phone (photo: Dean Kalyan)

Conrad Alexandrowicz released a new book, which he instigated and co-edited: Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis (Routledge) also features two chapters by Alexandrowicz, who co-wrote the introduction, as well as chapters by Sasha Kovacs and Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta, Theatre alumna Lara Aysal, plus a trialogue with Sadeghi-Yekta, Aysal and alumni Dennis Gupa.

And in his role as Ocean Networks Canada artist-in-residence, Gupa showcased his ONC AIR project Gossip With Whales twice this fall via a pair of international webinars, including the Virtual Ocean Pavilion at the UN Climate Change Conference COP 26. This project, featuring five Filipino artistic collaborators plus a set of stirring string and vocal performances, was inspired by a traditional Filipino poetic form.

Visual Arts

Paul Walde’s work was featured in the September issue of Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art, and his “Requiem for a Glacier” was one of three artworks discussed in the scholarly journal Sustainability 2021; his “Requiem” was also covered by the Luma Film and Media Art Quarterly and in ArtsHelp: Canada, and appeared as part of the Coventry Biennial. His work was also covered in a recent issue of Musicworks magazine and, along with alumni Rande Cook and Mike McLean, in the Galleries West review of the recent Fortune Gallery exhibit Last Stand: Ancient Forests, Collective Action

Kelly Richardson was one of just six international artists and scientists invited by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to participate in the global Instagram movement @withnature2020, a global collaborative artwork celebrating the world’s biodiversity and urge for its protection. Rick Leong presented his first solo exhibition in the US this fall with The Desired Path at Arsenal Contemporary Art in New York City, while Daniel Laskarin is the latest faculty member to present in the Dean’s Lecture series: “From a Ragged Edge, Possible Futures” was filmed in his studio and frames his practice in terms of memory, collapse and art that offers imaginative prospects for a future not yet determined. Doug Jarvis was recently named executive director of downtown’s Open Space artist-run centre, and current MFA candidate Colton Hash was featured in Luma Quarterly.

A billboard promoting Paul Walde’s “Requiem for a Glacier” at the Coventry Biennial (@wildairphoto)

It’s been a busy fall for Carey Newman, who participated in a screening and panel conversation with UBC’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, as well as participating in the “Art is Action” panel for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and a live presentation for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation; he also participated in the design and launch of Aspiration 2030, UVic new Research & Creative Works Strategy.

Sales of Newman’s 2021 Orange Shirt Day t-shirt design helped UVic raise over $60,000 for related initiatives; he also created a separate design for Cycling BC’s orange cycling jerseys. Newman was also in the news as a recipient of the City of Victoria’s Honorary Citizen Award and earned the Opera Directors Recognition Award for his volunteer on the board of Pacific Opera Victoria. More coverage of Newman continues with his announcement as UVic’s inaugural Impact Chair in Indigenous Art Practices, which has so far been covered by CBC Radio’s On The Island, Saanich News and others.

Writing

The recent announcement of Sean Holman as Writing’s new Wayne Crookes Professor in Environmental & Climate Journalism was covered in this National Observer interview, where Holman explores the role of mass media in shaping public understanding and attitudes towards the global climate crisis, as well as in Focus magazine and the Politico blog; his related COP26 media panel was also covered by CBC Radio, The TyeeGeorgia Straight and the St. Albert Gazette, while a first-of-its-kind survey of media and scientists that he co-organized was featured on over a dozen CBC Radio programs across the country.

This fall’s Southam Lecture with journalist Andrew Nikiforuk continues to be incredibly popular—covered by CBC Radio’s On The Island and the Martlet, this co-presentation with The Tyee had an original combined in-person and virtual attendance of over 1400 people, with over 5,000 further views of his lecture on YouTube. Mark Leiren-Young was the featured guest at UBC’s “Stage & Screen Writes” reading series, while his Skaana: Orcas & Oceans podcast continues to post new episodes and his current Royal BC Museum exhibit Orcas: Our Shared Future has now been extended to March 2022.

Andrew Nikiforuk’s Southam Lecture

Marita Dachsel has had one of her poems selected as one of 10 pieces that will be featured as part of BC Transit’s continuing Poetry in Transit series; the new series also features work by Patrick Friesen and alum Billeh Nickerson. David Leach spoke about the infinite ways of integrating technologies such as 3D and VR in conveying narratives at the Limitless Possibilities conference, while current Writing MFA candidate Letay Williams short film Traytown won the Audience Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Big Pitch! event. Kathryn Mockler  recently published the micro-climate story “Let’s Say” as part of the Imagining Climates project from the University of Guelph’s Environmental Institute of Environmental Research, and her recent book Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis was reviewed in Canadian Literature. 

Fine Arts

Fine Arts hosted our first Creative Futures webinar this fall with a focus on sustainability and the arts, featuring Theatre’s Conrad Alexandrowicz and Writing’s Kathryn Mockler, as moderated by Writing’s Shane Book. And Acting Dean Allana Lindgren presented the inaugural Fine Arts Student Community Impact Awards at the annual Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards in October, which also involved a number of alumni both behind the scenes and as other winners.

Thanks to donor support, we were able to present 3 separate $1,000 Community Impact Awards to recent School of Music grad Kyla Fradette, plus current students Alison Roberts (Theatre) and Dani Neira (AHVS). Visual Arts alum Sarah Jim received the ProArt Early-Career Artist Award, alumni company Theatre SKAM won the JAYMAC Outstanding Production Award, and the conVERGE IBPoC initiative led by Puente Theatre’s Mercedes Bátiz-Benét (Writing alum) & Intrepid Theatre won the CRD Community Impact Award. The event was organized the ProArt Alliance including alumni Ian Case (Theatre), Doug Jarvis (Visual Arts) and Matthew Payne (Theatre), while the livestream was managed by Justin Lee (Theatre).

Finally, Fine Arts communications officer John Threlfall earned sixth place in the international, experts-level Ultimate James Bond Trivia Marathon, run by James Bond Movie Encyclopedia author Steven Jay Rubin, and hosted a popular public trivia challenge as part of the Victoria Film Festival’s screening of Casino Royale; Threlfall also recently appeared on CBC Radio’s On The Island speaking about the importance of community building during trying times.

Staging Equality is making change by building relationships with theatre

Kandil & Kovacs outside Chief Dan George Theatre (cred: Adrienne Holierhoek)

If you’ve ever attended a play in the Phoenix Building, odds are good you’ve been inside the Chief Dan George Theatre. Named for the actor and chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation whose talent took him beyond North Vancouver to become an Oscar-nominated actor, the theatre also features a striking Coast Salish-inspired wooden-inlay wall panel—both signs of Indigenous respect literally built into the building when it opened in 1981.

Yet, as professor Yasmine Kandil noted when she hosted the President’s Town Hall in the Chief Dan George Theatre in October, has the department done enough to live up to those respectful intentions? Especially when taking into account who has historically come to, and been represented in, that space.

Enter Staging Equality, a vision of how theatre can address issues of race, diversity and inclusion by building relationships based on trust and respect.

 A collaborative and creative research project

Created out of the Strategic Framework Impact Fund, Staging Equality is a three-year, $64,000 collaborative and creative research project devised by Kandil and fellow theatre professor Sasha Kovacs.

“Theatre is a tricky space to be contending with stories of racism and to try to work in an anti-racist methodology and decolonize theatre practices,” says Kovacs. “These are really challenging things to do.”

Currently working with an interdisciplinary team of students, faculty and community partners on a series of workshops and staged readings, Kandil and Kovacs hope Staging Equality will cultivate an environment that respects the legacy of Chief Dan George.

“It’s welcoming through building relationships,” explains Kovacs. “What context or work do we need to do before our new partners and audiences enter this space?”

Now in the second of a three-year framework, Staging Equality is built on a year-long foundation of consulting, questioning, listening and planning alongside their community and campus partners. One early—but essential—shift involved abandoning the standard model of working with out-of-town guests and professionals, and instead focusing on Indigenous and racialized artists who are already doing the work right here in Victoria.

That led Kandil and Kovacs to local playwright Lina de Guevara, who founded Puente Theatre back in 1988 to showcase the experiences of immigrants and diverse minorities. In September, Staging Equality presented a staged reading of de Guevara’s play Journey to Mapu in the Chief Dan George Theatre, which featured a 15-person cast of almost entirely people of colour.

Staging Kamloopa

Journey to Mapu, featuring ICA’s Paulina Grainger (cred: Miranda Hatch)

Staging Equality’s next project is similarly local: a staged reading of the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning play Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story, written by Kim Senklip Harvey of the Syilx and Tsilhqot’in Nations—who won the GG the same week in June 2021 that she graduated with her MFA from the Department of Writing, becoming the first Indigenous woman to ever win that award.
Now a PhD candidate with UVic Law, Harvey will be directing the November 20 Staging Equality reading of her own play, featuring a mixed cast of Indigenous students, alumni and community members. “With the readings, we’re also really trying to foster connections between current BIPoC students and BIPoC alumni and artists,” says Kandil.

Not only will this mark the first time Kamloopa has been performed locally in any format, but Harvey’s participation also represents a strong measure of confidence in Staging Equality. “It really has been about collaboration, about building those relationships across campus and in the community,” says Kovacs.

Hear more about the impact of Kamloopa on our students in this episode of the Phoenix Fire student podcast. 

Hope for change

Kandil also sees Staging Equality as a way of offering hope to students and partners, both current and future. “Racialized students do not always see themselves represented in curriculum . . . so when they work alongside practicing artists, they can have the hope and see the opportunity to practice their craft after they graduate.”

While they are only at the halfway point, Kovacs feels the project has already made an impact on her personally and professionally. “As a white woman, this has been hugely transformative: not only on how I do research but also in the way I make theatre and teach students,” she says. “And, as a department that has a theatre company operating within it, the hope is that the work we’re doing on this project can be of value and of use for other departments across Canada.”

For her part, Kandil is pleased that Staging Equality has become a sign of positive change in Victoria’s theatre community.

“It’s already starting to create a buzz and cultivate the kinds of relationships that will lead to projects beyond this,” she says. “If you show trust and you show respect, people come willingly and want to stay and build more relationships through the arts. That’s what’s been moving for me.”

workshop photo (cred: Yasmine Kandil)

The free public performance of Kamloopa is at 8pm Saturday, Nov 20, in the Chief Dan George Theatre (reservations required).

Baylie Adams rehearses for success

Baylie Adams

Image courtesy of Diamond’s Edge Photography

 When fourth-year School of Music saxophone player Baylie Adams wanted to make a community impact during last February’s Black History Month, she looked to her own instrument for inspiration.

“We were only hearing about Black composers in terms of jazz music, so I read up on Black composers to find a more diversified repertoire,” Adams explains. “I’d never even thought about it in terms of classical saxophone.”

Adams’ research led her to American classical composer William Grant Still—the first African-American to conduct an orchestra in the US and, in 1931, the first to have his Afro-American Symphony performed by a mainstream American orchestra.

Inspiring change for herself & others

Inspired, she applied for and received a $1,500 Student Life Grant from the Office of Student Life to finance the project; from there, it was a short step for her Quartet Cantabile—rounded out with fellow Music students Alex Tiller, Ayari Kasukawa and Cole Davis—to record an online recital. In Appreciation of William Grant Still: A Virtual Benefit Concert (seen right) featured a number of Still’s compositions—including one written specifically for the saxophone, performed by Adams with accompanist Yousef Shadian.

In addition to engaging people to learn about this specific Black composer, the recital raised over $900 for the Blue Marists of Aleppo—a benefit fund directly supporting those affected by the ongoing war in Syria. Organizing a fundraising concert also helped Adams feel like she was contributing to various Black Lives Matter actions unfolding at the time.

“Putting work into an event like this made me feel better about all of the injustices,” she says.

The sound of one saxophone playing

Undertaking such an effort in the midst of her final year of studies is one thing, but it’s even more remarkable when you consider it happened during the COVID lockdowns, which were particularly challenging for orchestral musicians. 

“It’s hard to play a recital when there’s no one in the crowd,” she explains. “It’s difficult to feel proud about your performance when there’s no audience, when you’re sitting in your room playing your instrument to people online.”

Yet, as Adams notes, that “show must go on” mentality ended up being one of the biggest takeaways of her Bachelor of Music program.

“That was a hard thing I learned at UVic, but it was a good thing,” she says. “Being in rehearsals really made my degree special—I’m never going to forget that experience . . . even if it sometimes did involve my professor saying, in a nice way, that I have to work harder. It changed the way I conducted myself in rehearsals and did make me work harder. Because of that, I became a better player overall.”

Sharing what she learned

Proof of that is her current enrolment in UBC’s Master of Music program, where she daily draws on the lessons learned here. “I constantly reference my profs at UVic because I want people here at UBC to know what they taught me,” she says. “But I also find myself messaging students who are still at UVic, sharing what I’m learning here now. Working with other people has helped me learn how to better listen to the opinions of others, and be more comfortable sharing my own thoughts.”

While she was part of both the School of Music’s Sonic Lab contemporary ensemble and Wind Symphony, Adams didn’t limit her academic experiences to only music. In addition to a workstudy position with Alumni Relations, she also enjoyed working for Multifaith Services, where her tech support position helped with the loneliness of being a long-distance musician.

“I invited all my friends to join the weekly online sessions—meditation, yoga—so we got to see each other there,” she recalls. “That was a really great experience. Meditating with other people, whether in-person or online, was new for me.”

Adams is also excited to return to campus to graduate . . . this time, in person. “It feels a bit like a dream,” she laughs. “Human presence is getting more familiar again, but still seems a bit nostalgic.”

Visiting Southam Lecturer: Andrew Nikiforuk

“I believe in getting into hot water: it keeps you clean.”

—GK Chesterton

 

As an author, journalist and contributing editor for The Tyee, Andrew Nikiforuk has written about the use—and abuse—of natural resources and wild landscapes in Canada for more than 30 years. Now, the Department of Writing is proud to have him as their latest Harvey S. Southam Lecturer.

Andrew Nikiforuk’s free public lecture,“Energy Dead-Ends: Green Lies, Climate Change and Chaotic Transitions”, runs 2:00-3:15pm Wednesday, Nov 17, in room 124 of UVic’s Engineering/Computer Science building or via webinar.

Note: in-person attendance is now sold out. Attendees will be required to show provincial proof of vaccination before being admitted. All attendees and participants will be required to be masked when not at the lectern. For more information, please consult the University’s Communicable Disease Plan, and masking guidelines.

An honest and provocative voice

Nikiforuk’s work, which has appeared in the nation’s leading publications, has earned numerous awards, including a Governor General’s Award for Nonfiction, the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award, and seven National Magazine Awards.

His books on climate change (Empire of the Beetle) and energy (Tar SandsEnergy of Slaves and Slick Water) have encouraged public reflection and debate. Whether speaking or writing about disappearing wildlife, peak oil, pandemics or the destruction of the boreal forest, Nikiforuk has earned a reputation as an honest and provocative voice in Canadian journalism.

About the Southam Lecture series

Each year, one or more journalists of national renown are invited to share their knowledge with the university and local community as a visiting lecturer and/or a journalist-in-residence, thanks to the Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecture Fund in Journalism and Non-Fiction.

The visiting lecturer visits a variety of our classes and gives an annual public lecture offering an insider’s view of the shifting media landscape, and the journalist-in-residence teaches a unique class in the area of their expertise for one semester in our Writing department. Both of these positions give our students an opportunity to learn from some of Canada’s top working journalists and experience valuable mentorship for young writers and aspiring journalists.  

The fund was made possible due to a $250,000 donation from one of the country’s leading publishing families and the program has been an immea­surable success since its introduction in 1994. In its original incarnation, the Harvey Southam Diploma provided several students a year the opportunity to complete post-degree studies in UVic’s professional writing program. Diploma graduates have gone on to successful careers in journalism, publishing, com­munications.

Well over a dozen lecturers have delivered a diverse range of courses to our students and talks to the general public, including the likes of photojournalist Farah Nosh, bestselling author Brian Payton, CBC broadcaster JoAnn Roberts and  Ojibway journalist and author Richard Wagamese, to name a few.

About Harvey S. Southam

Harvey Southam, the son of Gordon Thomas and Gertrude Jean (nee MacMillan) Southam, worked as a journalist at the Winnipeg Tribune, the Vancouver Province, and Vancouver Sun before serving as a director of a number of Southam companies—including Southam Inc., Southam Printing Ltd., and Coles Book Stores Ltd.—as well as being the founder and editor of the Vancouver-based Equity, a monthly Vancouver business magazine. Southam was also a University of Victoria alumnus. He died suddenly in 1991.

 

Jenessa Joy Klukas harnesses the power of the pen

When it comes to wrapping up a writing degree with a flourish, it’s hard to beat Jenessa Joy Klukas. Not only did Klukas finish the final year of her studies interning at the independent media outlet The Tyee as part of the Journalists for Human Rights’ Indigenous Reporters Program, she’s also been hired by the equally independent IndigiNews as their new education and child welfare reporter.

“Children, child welfare, education, Indigenous issues: these are the topics I’m passionate about and really enjoy writing about,” says Klukas. “Having those all in one position is basically my dream job.”

Of Xaxli’p and Métis descent, Klukas grew up on the land of the Haisla Nation in Kitimat before moving to Victoria and transferring into UVic’s writing department from nearby Camosun College. With a focus on creative nonfiction (CNF), Klukas found UVic a good fit for her aspirations.

“The CNF program did a great job in setting me up for success and gave me a lot of really useful tools: publishing, how to pitch, what editors expect,” she says, offering her praise for the department—and specifically the support of CNF professor Deborah Campbell.

“The faculty and staff were all very encouraging and helped me a lot in finding my confidence and voice . . . I really appreciated that,” she says. “But Deborah was incredibly helpful and gave so much advice.”

From intern to reporter

It was Campbell who encouraged Klukas to apply for the six-week Tyee internship, where she wrote a series of stories about the childcare industry. ”Early-childhood educators don’t get the support they need: it’s an under-developed topic in the media,” says Klukas, who also likes the idea of harnessing the power of the pen for positive change.

“As somebody who is Indigenous, the lack of diversity [in journalism] made me want to contribute my voice and make sure Indigenous stories are heard,” she says. “It’s nice to see the industry opening up—and I really do think it is what Canada needs right now.”

Big conversations, big stories

Given the social upheavals that coincided with her degree studies—reconciliation, COVID, the continuing climate crisis, the rise of recent social justice movements—Klukas feels like the world has definitely shifted since her first writing class.

“It does feel different . . . there are big conversations to be had with people you often don’t know,” she says. “The political and conversational climate is changing, especially in areas like social justice and reconciliation . . . in some ways for the better, I hope. It’s an interesting world to adapt to.”

With her IndigiNews beat covering Vancouver Island, Klukas gets to remain Victoria-based for now—another plus to an already ideal position. “IndigiNews has been on my radar for a while, as they’re a really great outlet,” she says.

Better still, when she applied, it turned out she was already on their radar: “They had already been reading my pieces at the Tyee.” None of this surprises writing professor Deborah Campbell. “Jenessa Joy’s engagement with challenging issues from an Indigenous perspective makes her an invaluable member of any news team,” she says.

Jenessa Joy Klukas (photos: Andrew Silbernagel)