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We are so excited to announce that we are on social media! Follow our Facebook and Instagram for updates on events, initiatives, and other news from ISCEI.

Leanne Simpson Presents: “A Short History of the Blockade: Beavers, Affirmation and Generative Refusal”

See below for a poster on Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s upcoming Public Talk. This talk is free and open to the general public. It will take place on February 4th, at 10am.


Student Spotlight: Sativa Kawakami

Get to know some of the Indigenous students on campus in our new bi-weekly spotlight series! This week, we get to know a little more about the Indigenous Student Alliance’s (ISA) new Co-Chair, Sativa Kawakami!

Tell us a little about yourself, what are you studying at McGill?
My name is Sativa, but most people call me Tiva, and I am a U1 student majoring in Environmental Biology at McGill Mac Campus. Ethnobotany has always been a huge interest of mine, and so, I take lots of anthropology courses downtown, too! I am Manitoba Metis, born and raised in Winnipeg. Although I miss the prairies every day, I am beyond thankful to be studying at McGill and to have connected with many amazing people since moving to Montreal.
How did you begin to get involved with the ISA?
I met some folks at the welcome back event with First Peoples’ House who recommended I join the ISA. As a shy freshman, joining the club was a little daunting, but I would consider it one of the best decisions I have made as a McGill student. Looking back, everyone who is involved with the ISA is so wonderful, and I feel silly having ever been nervous to join. Initially, I was interested in all ISA initiatives, but was ultimately looking to make friends in a new city; connecting with other Indigenous students and allies was a major hope of mine following my move, that has now been and continues to be fulfilled.
What are you most excited about in your new role in the ISA?
I am honoured to take on the role of Co-Chair of the ISA! My appreciation for this club and all of its members grows every day, and I am extremely grateful to be able to increase my involvement with the group. Community building has and will always be very important to me, and my new position as co-chair gives me a great opportunity and platform to enhance relations between Indigenous students and allies at McGill and to strengthen and extend our lovely community beyond the University. I am thrilled to further connect with all the ISA members, and to enjoy the positive space that this club creates.
Learn more about the ISA and what they’re up to on their Facebook Page.

Looking Back at ‘Change the Name’: A Debriefing Circle

On February 8th at 5:30PM (EST), there will be a debriefing circle focusing on the Change the Name campaign.
This circle intends to provide closure to the campaign and provide an  opportunity for the Indigenous community on campus to collectively heal from the emotional and mental distress that was experienced on a variety of levels.
This event is open to Indigenous students, faculty/staff and alumni. It will be facilitated by Konwatsitsa:wi Meloche, who is a community member of Kahnawá:ke, and the circle will be open and closed by an Elder, Michael Standup. As well, participants will receive a small gift for taking the time to participate in this event. This meeting will not be recorded.

Guest Lecture: Orenda Boucher Visits POLI 372

On Wednesday, January 20th, POLI 372 (Indigenous Peoples and the Canadian State) welcomes Orenda Boucher, Kanien’kehá:ka, as an invited guest speaker!

Orenda will be providing an additional voice and Kanien’kehá:ka perspectives to the ongoing conversations in the class surrounding Indigenous governance and legal structures.


Anti-Racist and Decolonial Work in the Academy and Beyond: Registration Open

Registration for the upcoming talks in the Department of English’s Speaker Series has opened. To learn more about this series and ISCEI’s involvement, check out our previous post about it here. These talks are free but require an RSVP, if you would like to register, please follow the links below!


Vicky Boldo (Cree/Métis), Autumn Godwin (nehithaw iskwew), Laurence Lainesse (white settler): “Collective Resistance & Solidarity: Creating Social and Decolonial Change” (January 27, 3-5pm EST)

Register to attend this talk here


Kim TallBear (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate): “Diversity v. Decolonization in the Academy” (February 9, 5-6pm EST)

Register to attend this talk here

Meet Leanne Betasamosake Simpson: New Writer in Residence

ISCEI is thrilled to welcome Leanne Betasamosake Simpson as the first ISCEI Writer-in-Residence, in collaboration with the Mordecai Richler Writer-in-Residence series.

Simpson is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg writer, musician, and academic. She has worked as an independent scholar for two decades and lectured at universities across Canada and the United States. In her work, she deals with ideas of Indigenous environmentalisms and land-based knowledge, resurgence and resilience, and Indigenous futurities. She holds a PhD from the University of Manitoba and currently teaches at Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning. She is a member of Alderville First Nation.

Some of her notable works include Dancing on Our Turtle’s BackIslands of Decolonial Love, and most recently, Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies and its accompanying album Noopiming Sessions.

More information about Leanne and her work can be found at her website.

Speaker Series: How to Do Anti-Racist and Decolonial Work Within the Academy and Beyond McGill Department of English

The EGSA’s 2020-21 Equity and Diversity Committee has organized a four-part webinar / speaker series entitled “How to Do Anti-Racist and Decolonial Work Within the Academy and Beyond.” It will take place in January and February 2021 and is open to both graduate students and faculty members of McGill’s Department of English.

With the support of ISCEI and the Mellon Grant, this series includes Indigenous speakers who will be sharing their knowledge on this topic. Indigenous speakers include Vicky Boldo, Autumn Godwin and Kim Tallbear. See below for some of the topics and speakers in this series!


Beth Berila: “Building an Anti-Racist Culture” (January 14, 9-12pm EST)

This interactive workshop will explore how to practice anti-racism at the individual, collective, and structural levels in your department. We will discuss what is already working and generate best practices for anti-racism in our lives, pedagogies, departmental practices/policies, and communities.

Vicky Boldo (Cree/Métis), Autumn Godwin (nehithaw iskwew), Laurence Lainesse (white settler): “Collective Resistance & Solidarity: Creating Social and Decolonial Change” (January 27, 3-5pm EST)

Are you open-minded? Do you welcome diversity and difference as an opportunity to learn and broaden yourself both professionally and personally? Are respect and dignity important for you in team building and community service? This two-hour workshop is intended to provide a culturally safe space for exchange between each of the participants and the presenters. From a perspective of lived experience, we will discuss different strategies of resistance and solidarity implemented by the facilitators and participants in their own communities and within colonial structures of Canada and Quebec. Let’s engage and explore how collective actions of solidarity and resistance can contribute toward the reconstruction of a more just and decolonial society.

Kim TallBear (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate): “Diversity v. Decolonization in the Academy” (February 9, 5-6pm EST)

In Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang’s seminal 2012 article, “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” they define decolonization as bringing about “the repatriation of Indigenous land and life.” With this concrete transfer of (re)sources in mind, Dr. TallBear will address the differences between “diversity and inclusion” vs. decolonization. Also drawing on Adam Gaudry’s and Danielle Lorenz’s 2018 article “Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization,” TallBear argues for a more critical approach than the settler state’s multicultural model of inclusion—one that seeks to aid repatriatiation of “land and life.” Dr. TallBear will provide concrete examples of what repatriation looks like in the context of academic decolonization.

Bettina Love: “We Gon’ Be Alright, But That Ain’t Alright: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom” (February 22, 5-6pm EST)

Dr. Love’s talk will discuss the struggles and the possibilities of committing ourselves to an abolitionist goal of educational freedom, as opposed to reform, and moving beyond what she calls the educational survival complex. Abolitionist Teaching is built on the creativity, imagination, boldness, ingenuity, and rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists to demand and fight for an educational system where all students are thriving, not simply surviving.


Indigenous Alumni Ardith Walkem appointed in BC Supreme Court

Ardith Walkem, alumni of McGill (BA), was appointed as a judge in British Columbia’s Supreme Court in December. As an Nlaka’pamux community member, she is the first Indigenous woman to be appointed as a BC Supreme Court Justice. Walkem completed her BA at McGill University and then studied law the University of British Columbia. Walkem is also the owner and partner at Cedar and Sage Law

Taken from the Nanaimo News Bulletin, Chief Don Tom, UBCIC (Union of BC Indian Chiefs) vice-president said;

“Ardith is a brave and bold thinker who challenges those around her to understand the law and different legal traditions in innovative, transformative ways. Her research, work, and teaching have often focused extensively on the application and elevation of Indigenous laws, including in areas of child welfare and specific claims, and have undoubtedly changed the field.”

You can read more about her achievements and appointment here.

Robin Gray Guest Lecturing in the Department of Sociology on January 22nd

On January 22nd from 10:30 – 12PM, Robin Gray will be presenting her research titled: “Repatriating Indigenous Cultural Heritage: A Case of Ts’msyen Songs”. This presentation is part ofa larger speaker series in the Department of Sociology. Information on how to access this lecture will be provided below.

Robin Gray is Ts’msyen and Mikisew Cree, and an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Dr. Gray’s current research projects focus on the repatriation of Ts’msyen songs from archives, and foundational issues related to the preservation, management, ownership, access and control of Indigenous cultural heritage.

The repatriation of Indigenous cultural heritage, ranging from bodies and objects to knowledge, is a socio-cultural, spiritual, and political priority for Indigenous communities worldwide. Although Indigenous peoples have had varying levels of success securing the release of their ancestors and belongings from captivity, the repatriation of intangible heritage such as song is a relatively new domain. Drawing on research from an ongoing case study to repatriate a single collection of Ts’msyen songs from multiple archives with, by and for Ts’msyen from Lax Kw’alaams, BC, this talk will offer considerations about the colonizing properties of intellectual property, the reach of Indigenous dispossession in the archive, and why Indigenous laws should be respected as precedent for ownership, access, and control of Indigenous cultural heritage.

To listen to her lecture on the 22nd, you can click here for the zoom link or enter the meeting ID/passcode here:

Meeting ID: 839 2499 2870
Passcode: 042833

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