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.

Awi’nakola as a way of being

Paul Walde, Rande Cook & Kelly Richardson on stage at the Rifflandia Festival in Sept ’22

It would be difficult to imagine two more different audiences than those at Montreal’s COP 15 UN Biodiversity Conference and Victoria’s Rifflandia Music Festival, but both were on the schedule for the Awi’nakola: Tree of Life Foundation in 2022.

Founded by a group of Indigenous knowledge keepers, scientists and artists with a common commitment to create tangible solutions for the current climate crisis—and educate others through the process—Awi’nakola seeks to share cross-disciplinary research practices and develop ways to heal the planet, heal the people and change culture.

Led by Makwala Rande Cook—former UVic Audain Professor, Visual Arts MFA and hereditary chief of the Ma’amtagila First Nation—and Ernest Alfred, hereditary chief of the Tlowit’sis Nation, Awi’nakola (pronounced “A-weet-nah-kyoh-lah”) takes its name from a Kwak’wala word which loosely translates to being one with the land, ocean, air and all living forms. “When elders say this, it’s the embodiment of respect and relationship to all living things,” Cook explains.

But what began with five people in 2019 has now grown into an international group of more than 40, including Visual Arts professors Kelly Richardson, Paul Walde and Lindsay Delaronde.

In July 2022, Awi’nakola members spent a week in Kwakwaka’wakw territories documenting the loss of old-growth ecosystems—some of the last primary forests on the planet—and coming up with ways to communicate the severity of the loss to BC’s coastal rainforests. While there, the scientists conducted research that could one day help regenerate damaged forests, while the artists gathered imagery for future projects.

And in December 22, Cook and David Mungo Knox | Walas Namugwis (shown here) presented to the UN biodiversity summit COP 15. “We need radical change and that needs to come now,” Cook said in this Narwhal article following the summit. “We’re in a place right now where it literally is about the planet and we’re putting a timeline on the existence of humanity. For the health of all of us we need to make some real radical changes.”

The Awi’nakola Project is also working to secure exhibitions in locations where the BC government is known to purchase by-products of old-growth trees. Together, they are working collectively to build a better future for generations to come.

You can read more about their efforts in this story from The Ecologyst.

QFW performances & new LSQ video

Over 20 brilliant young musicians from across the world will descend on our beautiful campus for the return of Quartet Fest West chamber music festival and concert series. Running from June 26 to July 8, students will undertake two weeks of intensive chamber music study with the Lafayette String Quartet plus guests the Penderecki String Quartet and the Bellas Artes String Quartet. Better yet, the general public is invited to hear everyone perform . . . including the final LSQ concert before they retire as an ensemble, as their both final performances in August are now sold out.

About Quartet Fest West

QFW 2023 brings together two of Canada’s most beloved string quartets: the Lafayette and Penderecki Quartets, who are also longtime friends and colleagues. Also performing and giving masterclasses is Cuarteto Bellas Artes, the School of Music alumni quartet formerly known as the Chroma Quartet, who were also the first quartet to come out of UVic’s Graduate String Quartet in Performance program.

Among the events is a concert with the LSQ and celebrated local violist Yariv Aloni, followed by the premiere of John Bolton’s new film Singing Through Generations featuring music by Nicole Mandryk and Leila Lustig. Currently an MFA candidate with UVic’s Visual Arts department, Mandryk (seen above) is an artist of Anishinaabe, Irish and Ukrainian descent who has created three songs which were then orchestrated for voice, drum and string quartet by Leila Lustig. A Q&A will follow the screening.

In addition to the concerts (see below), QFW students will be receiving private lessons, daily coachings and masterclasses, and workshops on string instruments and using their bodies in the most optimal way.

All concerts, masterclasses and workshops are open to the public and happen in the School of Music’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. A festival pass will support the participating musicians and allow you to enjoy all the concerts and public masterclasses for one low price, but you can also order individual concert tickets here.

More to come this summer

You can also join the LSQ for the documentary film premiere of Creating Harmony, which delves into the challenges and joys of three decades in the life of a string quartet, including their famed 2017 journey performing the Shostakovich Cycle.

Creating Harmony runs at 5pm and 7pm Saturday, August 19, at UVic’s Cinecenta movie theater. There will be a Q&A with the LSQ and director Arwen Hunter after each showing. Film premiere tickets are available on Eventbrite (use the Promo Code LSQFRIENDS for discounted tickets).

And while the LSQ’s final UVic concerts on August 18 and 20 have now sold out (remember, you can still hear them at Quartet Fest West), they will be performing select dates in Ontario in July. Check their site for full info.

QFW schedule

Mozart and Movie Night: 7pm Thursday, June 29 

  • Violist Yariv Aloni joins the Lafayette String Quartet in Mozart’s Viola Quintet in G minor, K. 516, plus the premiere screening of Singing Through Generations

Penderecki String Quartet: 2pm Saturday, July 1 

  • Featuring Mozart’s String Quartet No. 14 in G Major, K. 387, Erwin Schulhoff’s Five Pieces for String Quartet and Johannes Brahms’ String Quartet in C minor, Op. 51, No. 1

QFW Gala Concert: 7pm Wednesday, July 5

  • Featuring the Lafayette, Penderecki and Bellas Artes String Quartets and QFW Participants performing octets by Murray Adaskin, Dmitri Shostakovich and Felix Mendelssohn, plus Johannes van Bree’s Allegro for Four Quartets

Cuarteto Bellas Artes: 7pm Friday, July 7

  • Performing Mozart’s “Dissonance” Quartet K. 465, Joaquín Turina’s “La oración del torero” and Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major

Participant’s Concert: 2pm Saturday, July 8 

  • After nearly two weeks, the young musicians of Quartet Fest West will perform the new repertoire they’ve developed together—full program will be announced on the LSQ website during second week of festival (reception to follow).

As in years past, Quartet Fest West is partnering with St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and the Victoria Summer Music Festival to showcase talented young musicians.

Climate Disaster Project a finalist in global journalism awards

CDP founder Sean Holman with student Sandra Ibrahim (UVic Photo Services)

We’re thrilled that the Climate Disaster Project (CDP) has been announced as a finalist in the global Covering Climate Now 2023 Journalism Awards, which honour the best coverage of the climate emergency and its solutions.

The CDP has been selected for bringing “the compelling and authentic stories of people in climate disaster–affected communities to the foreground.”

As one of four finalists in the “engagement journalism” category, the CDP’s trauma-informed work with climate disaster-affected communities has been recognized for their recent media partnerships with APTN Investigates, Megaphone and Asparagus magazines, and the Fraser Valley Current newspaper, which include climate survivor stories taken by UVic students Tosh Sherkat, Aldyn Chwelos, Paul Voll and Gage Smith.

Tosh and Aldyn were recently profiled in this article following their appearance on CBC Radio’s What On Earth.

“There are so many people that contributed to this honour,” says Sean Holman, CDP creator and the Wayne Crookes Professor of Environmental and Climate Journalism with the Department of Writing. “Our newsroom is supported by leading journalists, psychologists, social workers, climate scientists and public policy scholars who are working humanize climate coverage . . . . But none of this be possible without the hundreds of students and climate disaster survivors we collaborate with to share and investigate stories of climate disaster. More than anything, this honour from belongs to them.”

Even being named a finalist is a significant honour for the CDP, as other 2023 CCNJA nominees include the likes of the BBC, the Guardian, PBS, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, the Narwhal, CBS, ABC, AP, NY Times Magazine (etc).

Winners will be announced in September at Climate Week NYC (Sept 17-24).

An international teaching newsroom

Working with partner institutions across Canada and around the world, the Climate Disaster Project (CDP) uses the model of an international teaching newsroom in order to train students in trauma-informed journalism techniques to collect, compile and share survivor stories.

The CDP has already had a significant impact since launching in September 2021. To date, Holman and his CDP team of students and recent grads have produced more than 120 stories in collaboration with disaster survivors worldwide.

In the past academic year alone, 136 students were enrolled in CDP-related classes in nine different institutions (including UVic, First Nations University, Mount Royal University and Toronto Metropolitan University), learning about the human impacts of climate change, working to share those experiences with the news media, and investigating common problems and solutions identified by climate disaster survivors.

New partnerships have recently been secured that will soon see the project expanded to Brazil, Hong Kong, Norway, Nepal, Pakistan, and South Africa and the United States.

Witness Blanket seeks “soundtrack of resilience”

Carey Newman demonstrating his VR Witness Blanket project (photo: Ella Matte/Saanich News)

Already widely acclaimed for his powerful art installation the Witness Blanket, Kwakwaka’wakw and Coast Salish multi-disciplinary artist and Fine Arts professor Carey Newman is now planning to weave in a digital layer by collecting sounds to contribute to an interactive virtual reality version into his much-loved art project.

Newman, UVic’s Impact Chair in Indigenous Art Practices, is working with School of Music professor Kirk McNally to collect sound recordings from residential school survivors to create a “soundtrack of resilience” for a digital version of the installation—the original of which is now permanently installed at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. Together with partners from the CMHR, UVic and Camosun College’s Camosun Innovates, Newman is developing a VR version of the Witness Blanket and he’ll be working with a team of Indigenous musicians to create a living soundtrack for the project.

The original Witness Blanket is a large-scale series of panels containing hundreds of items reclaimed from residential schools, churches, government buildings and traditional and cultural structures from across Canada. Just as Newman gathered the original objects, he and McNally are now looking to collect sounds for the digital version.

“In virtual reality, sound is part of the experience and audio allows people to explore the blanket in a new way,” Newman explains in this CHEK News story. “If each of the objects on the Witness Blanket had a voice, what would they sound like? What language would they speak? What songs would they sing?”

Participants are invited to record and provide a sound that can include music of traditional instruments, sounds of cultural activities like paddling or carving, the ambient tones of the natural world, spoken languages, songs, or any other sound associated with a person’s Indigenous identity or community.

As a sculptor and master carver, Newman himself is planning to contribute a recording of the sound of knives carving wood. “It was something that was taught to me by my father. To me, that’s something that I closely associated with culture,” he told the Times Colonist in this article.

Local and national media outlets are helping to spread the word about Newman’s latest project, with additional stories appearing in this Saanich News video story and this separate Saanich News story, Capital Daily newsletter, plus live interviews on CFAX Radio and CBC’s On The Island.

While the call for sound contributions is specifically for Indigenous peoples, there are opportunities for non-Indigenous allies to help with things like equipment and studio space. You can connect with the team by e-mail at

Click here to watch a video about the new interactive project, including links to learn more about the original Witness Blanket.

You can also make an audio contribution to the project through this online form.

Sound Genres explore sound as foundational practice

Paul Walde’s Glacial 

The School of Music will be exploring sound as a foundational practice with Sound Genres, a special multimedia symposium running May 26-28 and funded in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

More than just an academic symposium, however, the event —which is free and open to the public — will also feature an opening sound installation by Visual Arts professor Paul Walde on Friday night, a public performance featuring nine musicians on Saturday night, and a special commissioned Sound Walk on Sunday afternoon featuring artist-in-residence Tiess McKenzie and Kristy Farkas, the School of Music’s concert manager.

“If you go to a music department at a university, most often it’s classical music,” says organizer and Music professor Anthony Tan in this interview with the Nexus newspaper. “You have to know musical notation, you’re often playing orchestral instruments, and so what we’re looking at is how this study of sound from these perspectives can actually inform how we teach music in university, and how we can become more inclusive about these practices as well.”

Expect discussions to focus on the complicated relationship between “sound” and “music” on the one hand, and the tension between increasing globalized sound genres and the culturally-specific meanings felt by listeners and practitioners on the other.

“I think a lot of people have very diverse definitions of what music is,” says Tan. “If you listen to the sounds of the environment, it’s also music in a way, and our conference is about questioning that notion about what is music versus what is sound.”

About the symposium

Conceived and organized by Tan and fellow Music professor Joe Salem plus Postdoctoral Fellow Taylor Brook and PhD candidate Sean Kiley, Sounds Genres will explore electronically mediated sound and music genres in both academic settings (sound art, soundscape, electroacoustic etc.) and popular contexts (EDM, ambient, techno etc.).

Artists, musicologists, anthropologists, and other participants from across Canada will convene to share their artistic and scholarly work with a focus on how these diverse sound genres intersect and how they may be critically engaged to revise curriculums in higher education both inside and outside of music departments.

Special guests

All of the events at Sound Genres stress social connections between real people, but as artists, scholars, and practitioners, we also embrace the irony that some of our most intimate, personal, and physiological experiences are those mediated by creative artistic practices. For this reason, the symposium also includes sound installations, a sound walk, an evening practicum performance, a curated, ears-on library exhibit, and practical demonstrations of sonic applications in the classroom — all of which you can read more about here.

Friday night’s Sound Installation and reception in the Visual Arts building will feature work by Paul Walde (Glacial), Jan Swinburne (Internet Songlines), Michael Trommer (Ancient Thoughts & Electric Buildings) and Annie Dunning (House on Fire).

Saturday’s “Sound as Witness, Sound as Truth” session will feature UVic Associate Librarian Ry Moranexploring the long histories of Indigenous music as a source of resistance, resurgence and political power, alongside a live performance and dialogue with Nehithaw (Cree)-Dené and Michif (Métis) storyteller Zoey Roy.

Saturday evening’s concert will feature the likes of Hildegard Westerkamp, Rachel Iwaasa, Matthew Haussman, Sean Kiley, Zosha Di Castri, Jane Chan, Paula Matthusen, Terri Hron and Tina Pearson.

Sunday’s keynote will feature University of Toronto speaker Eliot Britton on “Supporting Creative Hybrids: Bridging Diverse Practices Through Music Technology”.

Throughout the Symposium, you’ll also be able to enjoy the “Musical Mutant Machines” on display in the School of Music, which were created by Monkey C Interactive’s David Parfit and Department of Writing MFA alum Scott Amos.

The final event will be the commissioned Sound Walk featuring Tiess McKenzie’s participatory multimediaexperience across the UVic campus, followed by Kristy Farkas’ live performance of selections from her work “Songs For Tree”, which takes you outside in nearby Finnerty Gardens.

Please bring your own mobile devices and (wired) headphones to experience this element of the piece.

Find full details and speaker biographies here