New Fine Arts Indigenous student award

At UVic, we are committed to facing head-on the realities of Canada’s history and present. The new Faculty of Fine Arts Indigenous Student Award brings us one step closer to meeting this commitment.

More than just financial assistance for our students, this award is a crucial endorsement of our commitment to creating a stronger and more vibrant community at UVic.

“With this award, Fine Arts is making a commitment toward creating better opportunities for our Indigenous students and the greater goal of fostering respect and reconciliation here at UVic,” says Acting Dean Allana Lindgren.

A scholarship in perpetuity

Our current goal to raise $25,000 to permanently endow this fund and we are so close to our $25,000 goal. Please visit the Faculty of Fine Arts donation webpage: just choose “Faculty of Fine Arts Indigenous Student Award” from the “Designation” menu.

Once endowed, this award will then provide a scholarship for Indigenous Fine Arts students in perpetuity.

In supporting this award, you are also honouring the memory of the 215 Indigenous children found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, and all victims and survivors of the Canadian Indian Residential School System.

Student achievement

We proudly celebrate the achievements of our Indigenous alumni, ranging from celebrated authors like Eden Robinson (Haisla and Heiltsuk) and Distinguished Alumni Richard Van Camp (Dogrib Tlicho) and acclaimed mezzo soprano Marion Newman (Kwagiulth and Stó:lo)—who was recently named host of the long-running national CBC Radio program Saturday Afternoon at the Opera—to the socially engaged likes of artists Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde (Iroquois Mohawk) and Tlehpik Hjalmer Wenstob (Nuu-chah-nulth).

Most recently, we recognized the achievement of 2021 Writing grad Jenessa Joy Klukas (Xaxli’p and Métis), who was hired immediately after her degree as a reporter for IndigiNews.

Bestselling alumni author Eden Robinson

Indigenous scholars

Fine Arts also has a history of collaborating with Indigenous artists, communities and scholars, and has been actively engaged in integrating culturally sensitive methodologies in our teaching, research and creative activity. We are honoured to include Danielle Geller (Navajo), Carey Newman (Kwakwak’awakw and Coast Salish) and Gregory Scofield (Métis) among our permanent teaching faculty.

For the past 30 years, Fine Arts has also collaborated with the En’owkin Centre to offer our Foundations in Fine Arts program to Indigenous students both in the Okanagan and in Victoria.

Over the past decade, our students—like Fine Arts alumnus Jordan Hill of the T’Sou-ke Nation—have worked with a variety of Indigenous artists as Audain Professors, including Rebecca Belmore (Anishinaabekwe), Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Haida), Rande Cook (Kwakwaka’wakw), Jackson 2Bears (Kanien’kehaka) and Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit and Unangax̂).

Our students also continue to benefit from the experience of returning Indigenous alumni, including authors Robinson, Van Camp and Philip Kevin Paul (WSÁNEĆ), as well as the likes of visiting authors and filmmakers including Richard Wagamese (Wabaseemoong), Marie Clements (Métis), Jeff Barnaby (Mi’gmaq) and Nyla Innuksuk (Inuk).

Our ongoing Orion Series continues to present a dynamic range of Indigenous artists, most recently including Tania Willard (Secwepemc), Shawn Hunt (Heiltsuk), Heather Igliolorte (Inuk), Gary Farmer (Haudenosaunee/Iroquois), Drew Haden Taylor (Ojibwe) and Monique Mojica (Guna and Rappahannock).

Jordan Hill of the T’Sou-ke Nation in Avatar Grove / T’l’oqwxwat with Visual Arts professor Kelly Richardson in 2018 (photo: Paul Walde)

 

2021 Student Community Impact Award winners

The Faculty of Fine Arts is proud to announce the three recipients of our inaugural Fine Arts Student Community Impact Awards, presented as part of the annual Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards on Oct 1 at a live event held at Sidney’s Winspear Centre.

Each recipient—(from left) Kyla Fradette (Music), Alison Roberts (Theatre) and Dani Neira (AHVS)—received $1,000 plus a beautiful crystal glass award for their community efforts this past year.

“For over 50 years, Fine Arts has been an incubator for young artists, technicians, arts administrators, volunteers and audience members,” noted Acting Dean Allana Lindgren at the awards ceremony.

“And while our alumni and faculty members continue to make a vital impact on Victoria’s arts community, we felt it was time to recognize the work and contributions our students make to the local arts community . . . and the time the community itself spends fostering and mentoring our students.”

About the awards

The Fine Arts Student Community Impact Award was created by the Dean’s External Advisory Committee to recognize the individual achievements or outstanding effort made by a full-time Fine Arts undergraduate student for a local arts organization.

Kyla Fradette was honoured for her participation with Pacific Opera Victoria’s “Pop Up Opera” pandemic project that brought live musical performances to the streets and outside the windows of care homes throughout Greater Victoria.

Alison Roberts was recognized for her continuing volunteer work with the Victoria On Stage Musical Theatre Society—where, for the past 10 years, she has taken on duties ranging from performer and choreographer to director, fundraiser and now board member.

Dani Neira was selected for her work as both the gallery intern at the Open Space Artist-Run Centre and the creator of Open Space’s printzine project, (un)productive—which helped connect artists and creatives during last year’s lockdown.

More awards

Congratulations also to our alumni who received awards, including local artist Sarah Jim—an emerging artist of mixed ancestry and a member of the W̱SÁNEĆ nation from the Tseycum village—the team at Theatre SKAM and our colleagues at Puente Theatre & Intrepid Theatre for their conVERGE IBPoC residency.

Kudos also go out to our behind-the-scenes alumni who helped make the whole event possible—including Ian Case, Matthew Payne, Doug Jarvis & Justin Lee.

We also gratefully acknowledge our donors—who made it possible to offer three separate $1,000 awards this year—as well as our colleagues on the awards selection committee. 

Click here for a full list of the 2021 GVRAA winners. 

Theatre SKAM receives their award

Fine Arts contest raises awareness

How much do you know about the Indigenous presence at UVic?

A new Fine Arts Orange Shirt Day contest is designed to help you learn more while having fun exploring the campus—and possibly win a fantastic prize!

Created by Karla PointIndigenous Resurgence Coordinator for the Faculty of Fine Arts—the Orange Shirt Day scavenger hunt will encourage us all to learn more about the Indigenous presence on campus.

Awareness & activities

The contest runs September 27-October 8 and is part of UVic’s overall observance of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30: a day set aside to commemorate the history and the ongoing tragic legacy of the Indian Residential Schools in Canada.

“The truth is that these institutions were set up to acculturate, assimilate and near annihilate the Indigenous Peoples,” says Point. “To move towards true reconciliation, more about the truth needs to be known.”

Karla Point

How to play

Point hopes the contest will help everyone in Fine Arts be more aware of UVic’s Indigenous connections. “This scavenger hunt is intended to create more awareness of the presence of Indigenous people on campus,” she says, “and to tweak your interest so that you will want to know more.”

You can pick up the scavenger hunt contest from the entry box in the Fine Arts lobby or download a PDF of it here. You’ve got until October 8 to answer the 20 questions and drop the completed form back in the box.

All completed contest forms will be entered into a draw for a traditional cedar hat—handmade by Karla Point herself.

Note: this contest is only open to students, faculty and staff of the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Win this woven cedar hat, handmade by Karla Point

About Karla Point

Point—whose traditional Nuu chah nulth name is Hii nulth tsa kaa—attended the Christie Indian Residential School on Meares Island for 15 months in the 1960s, before being withdrawn from the school by her parents.

Previously the cultural support liaison with UVic’s Faculty of Law, Point has also been a reconciliation agreement coordinator with the Sts’ailes Nation, a First Nations program coordinator with Parks Canada, and a treaty negotiator and elected councillor for the Hesquiaht First Nation.

Want to reach out to Karla Point in her role as the Indigenous Resurgence Coordinator for Fine Arts? Contact her at kpoint@uvic.ca.

Enter to win in the Fine Arts lobby

Update!

Our contest winner is undergraduate Art History & Visual Arts student Alexie Pusch, seen here both with her winning hat and with contest organizer Karla Point and Fine Arts administrative assistant Olivia Hardman.

Climate-crisis sparks new journalism position

Wildfires, droughts, floods, extreme storms: we are living in a time when climate change should be the biggest story of our time—yet, as the recent federal election proved, all too often it doesn’t even make the headlines. As the new Wayne Crookes Professor in Environmental and Climate Journalism with UVic’s Department of Writing, Sean Holman hopes to bring a more human dimension to the climate crisis.

An award-winning journalist whose appointment began September 1, Holman brings his research expertise in the areas of freedom of information, institutional accountability and climate journalism. Previously an award-winning public affairs and legislative journalist, Holman—a UVic alumnus—comes to UVic from Mount Royal University, where he was a journalism professor.

In addition to his teaching duties as the Crookes Professor, he is co-leading the first-ever survey of journalists and scientists regarding climate change media coverage, as well as working with at least nine other different Canadian journalism programs to launch a “climate disaster survivor” memory vault.

In this Q&A, Holman discusses his concerns and goals, as well as his intention with the climate disaster survivor memory vault.

What is the media doing wrong—and right—when it comes to reporting the climate crisis?

The news media has extensively reported on the environmental, economic and political dimensions of climate change. But journalists have struggled to humanize that phenomenon—something Greta Thunberg pointed out in a recent interview with the New York Times. She said the news media hasn’t been telling the stories of “people whose lives are being lost and whose livelihoods are being taken away” by climate change.

As a result, global warming can often seem like it’s a remote phenomenon that’s happening elsewhere or in the future, rather than something close at hand and already harming people and families around the world. That dampens the urgency to act on climate change. And it means those who have been harmed can feel alone in their experiences, rather than being supported as part of a shared community of climate disaster survivors—a community we are all part of.

How do you propose to solve that problem as the Crookes Professor?

I’m working with a consortium of journalism programs and talented colleagues at post-secondary institutions across the country to create the climate disaster project. This project will amplify the stories of those who have experienced such disasters.

With their permission, those stories will be shared with news media partners, as well as preserved in a climate disaster memory vault, similar to other important oral history projects that have humanized the impact of natural disasters and humanitarian crises around the world. In doing so, we hope to better understand the commonalities in those experiences, launching investigative journalism projects that can surface these shared problems, and solutions to them.  

Donor Wayne Crookes (right) speaks with Sean Holman at UVic

Why wasn’t the climate crisis a bigger issue in the federal election?

I think a large portion of the blame for that rests on the problems my colleagues and I hoping to help solve: the need to humanize the costs of climate change, the need to create a community around the shared experience of climate change, and the need for journalists and scientists to work together to improve coverage of that phenomenon.

In this new age of disaster, climate change should be the biggest story of our time: it should be the biggest political issue of our time—and what to do about it should be the top ballot-box question. Because if we answer that question wrong, everything that we have built together as a society and everything we could build together will be put at risk.

Are there any other ways climate change coverage can be improved?

I think there are. But this is also a question I think scientists and other journalists should be talking to one another about too. Both professions have a lot in common: we are part of a shared community that contributes to evidence-based decision-making by the public and policymakers—but its members need to be speaking with one another about climate change communication more than we are right now.

So my colleagues and I will be starting more of those conversations by surveying journalists and climate scientists and asking them what they think about environmental coverage and how it can be improved. And the first phase of that survey project is scheduled to launch in advance of the November global climate change negotiations in Glasgow.

How will your background as a freedom of information researcher factor into researching and teaching environmental and climate teaching journalism?

As a freedom of information researcher, one of my focuses has been on better understanding why we have historically valued information in democracies. And one of the conclusions I’ve reached is that we do so for two reasons: control and certainty.

With information, we can better understand the past and present, as well as anticipate the future. And we can then use that understanding to make wiser decisions in our personal and political lives, thereby exerting some measure of control over the world around us.

But, in the current post-truth era, that process has broken down. Instead, people have sought other kinds of control and certainty in the form of denialism, authoritarianism and conspiracy theories.

As a result, many governments have failed to effectively respond to the pandemic, just as they have failed to effectively respond to climate change. In other words, climate change isn’t just the result of greenhouse gases, in the same way the pandemic isn’t just the result of a virus—it’s the result of a failure to use information in the way we would expect to in a democracy.

So, if we want to address the climate crisis, we need to figure out how to reinforce the value of information while finding other means of affecting change.

The Crookes Professorship in Environmental and Climate Journalism was created in January 2021 through a gift of $1.875 million to the University of Victoria by Vancouver business leader and political activist Wayne Crookes.

Banting Fellow & Vanier Scholar named in Fine Arts

Fine Arts researchers and creative practitioners Taylor Brook and Troy Sebastian are among UVic’s recipients of the prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholars,

“Congratulations to Taylor and Troy,” says Acting Dean Allana Lindgren. “Having a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow and a Vanier Scholar in the Faculty of Fine Arts is an honour.”

Together with Canada’s federal granting agencies, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada announced the results of the 2020-2021 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships competitions on July 15.

“Both Taylor and Troy are highly talented and accomplished young artists/scholars, so it is very satisfying to see the excellence of their creative work and research recognized at the national level,” says Lindgren. “I am confident that their expertise, creativity, and aspirations will enrich our community.”

Taylor Brook

School of Music composer Taylor Brook is one of four UVic recipients of the Banting fellowships. The federal program is designed to build world-class research capacity by recruiting top-tier postdoctoral researchers at an internationally competitive level of funding.

The two-year Banting fellowships are worth $70,000 per year. They are open to both Canadian and international researchers who have recently completed a PhD, PhD-equivalent or health professional degree and other eligibility criteria. UVic’s other three recipients are Kristina Barclay (Biology and Anthropology), Simon Blouin (Physics and Astronomy), and Gillian Kolla (Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research).

A Canadian composer who writes for the concert stage, video, theatre, dance and robotic instruments, Brook’s compositions have been performed by ensembles and soloists worldwide. A 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, he has won numerous SOCAN Young Composers awards, including the 2016 grand prize, and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from Columbia University.

 

Brook’s music is often concerned with finely tuned microtonal sonorities, combining his interest in exploring the perceptual qualities of sound with a unique sense of beauty and form. Current projects include a new concerto grosso for the San Francisco-based Del Sol String Quartet with the Partch Ensemble and a concert-length piece for the NYC-based TAK Ensemble.

As part of his SSHRC project, he will be writing a new composition for the Aventa Ensemble, to be performed in 2023.

“I am thrilled to begin my research at the University of Victoria as a Banting Fellow. My research will develop a novel framework for cross-cultural musical analysis that overcomes limitations engendered by Western musical notation. I hope to build a greater understanding of tuning and temperament as an expressive force in music as well as contribute to a broader effort in musicology, composition and music theory to decolonize the curriculum in higher education.​”
—Taylor Brook

SSHRC Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship

Troy Sebastian | nupqu ʔak·ǂam̓

Department of Writing alumnus and instructor Troy Sebastian is one of three UVic researchers named as Vanier Scholars in the annual competition by the Government of Canada.

The scholarships are earmarked for social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health. Vanier scholars, who receive $50,000 funding each year for three years, demonstrate leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies. UVic’s other two recipients are Dorothea Harris (Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies) and Lucie Kotesovska (English).

A Ktunaxa writer from ʔaq̓am, Sebastian’s research and creative practice focuses on memoir, Indigenous masculinities, Canadian military history, Ktunaxa nation building and Ktunaxa language revitalization. His proposed PhD program is a special arrangement between the Department of Writing and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

 

“My Vanier scholarship will focus on celebrating who we and our history in our ancestral homelands by researching the life and service of a Ktunaxa veteran who was killed in action during World War II,” says Sebastian.

A graduate of UVic’s Writing MFA program and an instructor with the department, Sebastian was selected for the 2020 Writer’s Trust Rising Star program, is a recipient Hnatyshyn Foundation’s Reveal – Indigenous Arts Award and is also a graduate of the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Writers program.

His writing has been longlisted for the 2019 Writers’ Trust Journey Prize, both the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize and 2018 CBC Short Story Prize, and he has been published in Best Canadian Stories 2019, The Walrus, Ktuqcqakyam, The New Quarterly, Quill and QuirePrairie Fire and The Malahat Review.

“My research and artistic practice centres on Ktunaxa language, storytelling, morality and ethics, and is dedicated to the empowerment of the Ktunaxa Nation’s vision statement: ‘Strong, healthy citizens and communities, speaking our languages and celebrating who we are and our history in our ancestral homelands, working together, managing our lands and resources, within a self-sufficient, self-governing Nation.’”
—Troy Sebastian | nupqu ʔak·ǂam̓

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar

Making positive change with Student Life Grants

When Black fourth-year School of Music saxophone major Baylie Adams wanted to make a community impact during February 2021’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,” she 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 the first to have his Afro-American Symphony performed by a mainstream American orchestra.

From there, it was a short step to gathering fellow Music students to record an online recital. In Appreciation of William Grant Still: A Virtual Benefit Concert, which you can watch on YouTube, featured a number of Still’s compositions, including one written specifically for the saxophone, performed with accompanist Yousef Shadian.

Educating herself and others

As well as educating herself and her audience, Adams’ recital with the Quartet Cantabile (right, Alex Tiller, Baylie Adams, Ayari Kasukawa, Cole Davis) raised over $900 for the Blue Marists of Aleppo, a benefit fund directly supporting those affected by the ongoing war in Syria. Adams’ efforts and the recital was also covered by the Martlet student newspaper.

Adams, who received a $1,500 Student Life Grant to finance the project (more on that below), was glad to have stepped up in this fashion. “Putting work into an event like this made me feel better about all of the injustices over the Black Lives Matter summer,” she says. “I also wanted to engage people to learn about this Black composer, as well as listen to the recital.”

Turning thought into action

People all over the world are talking about anti-racism, anti-oppression, anti-discrimination and decolonizing work. But interdisciplinary PhD student Matilde Cervantes says it’s time to move beyond conversation. She’s leading a project with HREV to encourage action at UVic through visual storytelling. “That’s the really cool thing about art,” says Cervantes. “It can be one small move from thought towards real action in meaningful ways.”

The UVic Human Rights Education Volunteers Group (HREV) invites students, staff and faculty to their creative movement for an inclusive and welcoming UVic campus by creating a visual artwork proposal (e.g. photo, painting, or any visual) that evokes social change towards a respectful, healthy and peaceful UVic campus.

Remember to include a caption that explains how your image connects to the project themes. The artwork collected will form a virtual exhibit that celebrates anti-racism, anti-oppression, anti-discriminatory, decolonizing efforts at UVic this fall.

Submit your artwork for social change to mcervantes@uvic.ca by July 30, 2021. A $25 honorarium is available for current students, faculty and staff at UVic.

About Student Life Grants

Since 2011, UVic’s Office of Student Life has provided grants to current undergraduate and graduate students in order to support extracurricular activities or unique opportunities. Applicants for Student Life Grants can receive up to $1,000 to fund student-led initiatives that engage and positively impact the UVic campus community, plus an additional Anti-Racism Supplement (up to $500) to prioritize and support initiatives that focus on addressing racism utilizing anti-racist strategies.

For her part, Adams was thrilled to receive a Student Life Grant. “It was a really simple process and it helped me pay everyone who was involved in this project,” she says. “It was a good thing to apply for.”

“The Student Life Grants are a good way to encourage us all to get more involved in promoting these positive values in our community,” adds Cervantes.

Learn more

Interested in learning more about Student Life Grants and current projects? Sign up for one of the upcoming info sessions:

  • • Friday, June 25, 2021, 11am-12pm
  • • Monday, June 28, 2021, 12-1pm

The next Student Life Grant deadline is 11:59pm Wednesday, June 30.