Orange Shirt Day events

Did you know this popular Orange Shirt Day design “Hearts & Hands” was created by multi-disciplinary Kwakwaka’wakw/Coast Salish artist Carey Newman? UVic’s Impact Chair in Indigenous Art Practices and a professor with both our departments of Visual Arts and Art History & Visual Studies, Newman is also the creator of the powerful Witness Blanket sculpture, now permanently housed in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

“This design was made to honour the children who died in residential school,” says Newman, whose traditional name is Hayalthkin’geme. “The hearts express love for all those in unmarked graves and compassion for the families and communities who waited for them to be found. The small and colourful hands remind us of the uniqueness and beauty of every child. Taken together, they represent our commitment to listen to our hearts and use our hands, to do the work that needs to be done.”

“The visceral confirmation of Survivor accounts that has come from locating these graves has affected many of us on an emotional level,” he continues. “It has changed the way that many people think and feel about our histories and current realities in Canada.”

Examining the impacts of colonialism

A master carver, filmmaker, author and popular public speaker, Carey Newman’s artistic practice strives to highlight Indigenous, social and environmental issues as he examines the impacts of colonialism and capitalism, harnessing the power of material truth to unearth memory and trigger the necessary emotion to drive positive change. He is also interested in engaging with community and incorporating innovative methods derived from traditional teachings and Indigenous worldviews into his process.

Support meaningful engagement with Elders

Just in time for Orange Shirt Day, Newman’s design is currently available to order on a t-shirt at UVic’s Bookstore. But be warned: fake designs are unfortunately available online, the proceeds from which are not going to Indigenous groups. It’s best to pick one up from a trusted supplier, like the Bookstore.

If you already have a shirt from a previous year, we encourage you to support Orange Shirt Day initiatives by considering making a $25 donation directly to the Elders Engagement Fund, Witness Blanket Project or Orange Shirt Society.

The university has established the ITOTELNEW̱TEL ȽTE: LEARNING FROM ONE ANOTHER Fund (Elders Engagement Fund). It provides meaningful engagement with Elders and opportunities for learning Indigenous ways of knowing for students, faculty and staff.

Orange Shirt Day events

Events are taking place across campus this week in recognition of National Truth and Reconciliation Week. You can see a full list of campus activities here. Be sure to wear your orange shirt and join in the campus gathering in the Quad from 11:45am-1:30pm Friday, Sept. 29.

There’s also the big South Island Pow-wow starting at 10am Saturday, Sept 30, in downtown’s Royal Athletic Park.

What is Orange Shirt Day?

Orange Shirt Day is a national movement in Canada. In this annual event, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people come together in the spirit of hope and reconciliation to honour former residential school students, their families and communities. We consider the impacts of the policies and actions of the Government of Canada and the churches that operated the schools.

Orange Shirt Day began in Williams Lake, BC in 2013 at the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event at which survivor Phyllis Webstad told the story of her shiny new orange shirt taken away from her on her first day of school at the Mission.

Orange Shirt Day occurs in early fall because this is the time of year when children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools. The day inspires Canadians to take part in anti-racism and anti-bullying initiatives at school and work.

The residential school era began in the early 1870s, with the last school closing in 1996. More than 150,000 Indigenous, Métis and Inuit children attended these schools. There are an estimated 80,000 survivors living today.

Legacy gift highlights Steinway anniversary

Arthur Rowe performing on one of UVic’s Steinway pianos (photo: Leon Fei)

Fifteen years ago, UVic’s School of Music was named Canada’s first All-Steinway School and, while there are now over 200 All-Steinway schools globally, UVic is still the only one in Canada — a significant designation currently being celebrated with both a new $300,000 estate gift and a signature concert.

“Steinways are recognized worldwide for their excellence and are by far the most preferred concert piano in the world,” says School of Music piano professor Arthur Rowe.

But keeping 63 pianos ready for daily student use also requires constant tuning and repairs, which makes the new $300,000 Martha Cooke Fund so important. Named for the late Public Archives Canada curator, Cooke’s legacy earmarks $200,000 for essential piano maintenance.

 “These pianos are now 15 years old, so this gift comes to us at a critical time,” says Rowe. “Maintaining our excellent instruments is crucial, so these funds will help ensure the longevity and excellence of our Steinways.”

Internationally renowned guest pianist

The Martha Cooke Fund also sets aside a further $100,000 for three years of annual concerts and masterclasses with internationally renowned Korean-American pianist Minsoo Sohn — the first of which debuts October 3 at UVic when he presents an awe-inspiring performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s complete Études-Tableaux.

Sohn will also host a free public masterclass with School of Music piano students at 10:30am Wednesday, Oct 4, which all are welcome to attend.

As the winner of many prestigious competitions and a teacher of renowned pianists himself, Minsoo Sohn’s concerts and masterclasses will demonstrate his own pursuit of musical excellence for the benefit of UVic students. This promises to be an extraordinary experience that will transport audiences to a realm of emotion, virtuosity and musical brilliance.

Masterful virtuosity

Known for his musical intelligence and masterful virtuosity — qualities that have earned him acclaim throughout the United States, Canada and Korea — Sohn’s readings of the works of Bach and Beethoven in particular have placed him among the elect in this repertoire, and the inspired ingenuity of his performances of orchestral repertoire have earned him many accolades.

Sohn owes much of his success to his mentors, Russell Sherman and Wha Kyung Byun, with whom he studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston. After teaching at Michigan State University, Sohn returned to South Korea where he instantly became a much sought after performer and pedagogue, as he joined the faculty at Korean National University of Arts. He has also served on the jury at prominent international piano competitions including Honens, Top of the World and Busoni Competition.

Annual Reading Night Returns

Hear new work by some of Canada’s top writers at the annual Writing Faculty Reading Night!

Back for the first time since pre-pandemic days, this event features acclaimed Department of Writing professors Shane Book, Mo Bradley, Danielle Geller, Lee Henderson, Kevin Kerr, Kathryn Mockler, Gregory Scofield plus Lansdowne Professor Deborah Campbell (above). Catch readings of new work in their respective fields of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays and screenwriting. 


Always a fun & fascinating evening, this event will be hosted by Fine Arts communications officer John Threlfall

7pm Thurs, Sept 28 in room A240 of UVic’s HSD building. 

Celebratory theatre: telling tales

This is a story of stories. And like all classic tales, each has an inciting incident followed by a turning point at which the hero steps onto a new path. They sidle or charge or struggle forward to a point from which there’s no turning back—they’re committed to the new path. Through, around and over obstacles, they continue toward their goal: safety, a grail, a job, a reunion. Maybe a home. A script.

And then, it seems, all is lost. The hero is, apparently, insurmountably far from their goal.

But lovers of story know—or hope—that that’s not the end.

In one story, Yasmine Kandil, associate professor of Theatre at UVic, has reached the point of no return. With co-principal investigator Catherine Costigan, professor of psychology, she is launching into a three-year applied-theatre project with almost $200,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

In the arts-based world, such large pockets of money are rare, but indicate the high value of such work, especially in community-based settings.

Of course this didn’t come out of a blue sky. Kandil began to develop a new applied-theatre method while at Brock University before she joined UVic. Collecting real stories of immigrants and refugees about their lived experiences, Kandil created short plays to be performed by students, even anticipating the future and writing in happy endings for each of the participants. That, she says, has been transformative for the group of newcomers.

“People don’t want to be seen as pitiful or needing help,” she says. “They want others to see their rich culture, what they bring to the community, that they are resilient, productive citizens, worthy of an equal share in society.”

Building a community partnership

The imagined finales also brought welcome resolutions for people whose paths are still uncertain. A Sudanese man, for example, who desperately missed the Nile had a (theatrical) opportunity to return to his river and say farewell.

Kandil partnered with the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) on Homecoming, a similar project with LGBTQ2S+ immigrants and refugees that aimed to educate and build empathy towards this group by the settlement workers who serve them, and who mainly come from conservative backgrounds.

“Many of the staff come from traditional cultures,” she explains. “By having theatre students perform the real stories of some of the LGBTQ2S+ clients, we hoped to help the staff become more comfortable and accepting, and to give the clients a sense of belonging.”

It worked. As one employee reported afterward, “It was like a window opened [for me].”

Research/creative project grant

Later that year, Kandil successfully applied for UVic’s internal Research/Creative Project Grant, seed funding to help scholars prepare to get larger external funding. That’s when Kandil and Costigan put their heads together to develop a theatre project with data collection that would allow them to evaluate the outcomes. The funds allowed them to pay participants in a two-day workshop and assess whether the project succeeded in helping them to achieve a sense of belonging and the audience to see immigrants and refugees in a new light.

The data collection is important for more than their own satisfaction. ICA is one of very few immigrant- and refugee-support agencies in Canada that has an arts program. Data will give them evidence to support applications for sustained government funding.

For the new project, Costigan is applying intergroup contact theory and social cohesion theory to design the data-collection and impact-assessment portions of the research. To evaluate whether the project has an effect on the storytellers’ sense of belonging and of self-worth, the researchers will use focus groups and questionnaires before the workshops begin, after they’re over and one year later.

Kandil and Costigan hope that the 16 weekly workshops will help 12 ICA and Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees clients develop a stronger sense of belonging within the group, to the Greater Victoria community and in Canada.

Then Kandil will write plays based on those stories, adding “embellished” conclusions that provide a vision for the people whose stories they are and for the broader audiences who will see the plays performed by UVic theatre students next summer.

That’s the definition of “celebratory theatre,” Kandil explains. “The participants benefit and the audience learns.”

The customized resolutions wrap up each individual’s journey with a vision of what their life might become here in Canada, Kandil says. Whether it’s a job, saying goodbye to a beloved homeland, feeling like a member of the workshop team or Victoria or Canada . . . .

“We give them,” Kandil says, “a happy ending.”

—Story by Rachel Goldsworthy, Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation

Come to our pizza welcome party!

If you’re a Fine Arts student in Art History & Visual Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing or our School of Music, then you’re invited to our annual Welcome (Back) Pizza Party!

Join us from 4-6pm Thursday, Sept 14, in the Fine Arts courtyard.

Enjoy free pizza, cake, drinks and lawn games, and be sure to enter the prize draw for 5 Fine Arts hoodies (one given to a student in each of our departments).

The Fine Arts teaching faculty & staff will be serving, so swing by and say hi!

Legacy gifts transform student experiences

Performance infrastructure may not be top of mind when it comes to supporting the student experience, but it’s always a primary concern in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Such is the case with the School of Music’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall: named for the former professor whose vision led directly to the construction of both the Music building and UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium, the 220-seat PTY is an exceptional performance venue that has provided essential opportunities for generations of student musicians.

“We know so many people find solace, beauty and meaning in music at our beloved PTY,” says School of Music director Alexis Luko.

Yet while the PTY hosts over 140 events a year, it is showing its age. Case in point? A ceiling-mounted projection screen and laser projector may not have been on the plans when it was built in 1979, but both are now must-haves in this increasingly multimedia era. Both were included in phase one of the recent donor-assisted audio-visual renovations; phase two will see the installation of a built-in sound system.

“The generosity of our donors is fundamental: it shapes the future of music performance, creation, research, technology and education here,” says Luko, who notes the new AV system will offer myriad opportunities for screenings, slideshows, multimedia performances and projected surtitles during concerts.

“This new system will position our students for success with 21st-century tools to create and perform at their best,” she says. “And an upcoming campaign focusing on stage and seating renovation will further enhance our audience experience and ensure the longevity of the PTY—where we are always excited about the next performance!”