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4th Annual New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts:
Engaging Authenticity

Carleton University, March 5, 2005

F e e d b a c k

I am writing to tell you how impressive the New Sun Conference was this year. The full house was evidence of the intense interest from a broad community in what you are doing. As far as I could see at least half of the audience were Aboriginal people, many from key NGO's and the federal government.  I also saw the curator of contemporary art from the National Gallery and all my M.A. and PhD students from Art History and ICSLAC and a goodly contingent of faculty from the English Department.

What is more important was the high quality of the talks. Both those of Ron Noganosh and Maria Campbell were truly gripping-- you could have heard a pin drop while Campbell was speaking. Including the topic of food was a stroke of genius. For me, it really brought out the conjunction of the holistic approaches to culture taken by Aboriginal people and the "sensual turn" being taken by scholars in history, anthropology, and art history these days. Seeing the new documentary films from last fall's Toronto festival was a very valuable opportunity to see new work that has not been shown in Ottawa. 

The attention you paid to the lunch and the terrific Aboriginal food did a lot to create a really good atmosphere in which people could talk, connect, and exchange ideas. You have built the New Sun event into one that people eagerly anticipate. It is unique in the calendar of conferences because of its interdisciplinarity and very successful inter-cultural engagement. I'm already looking forward to the next one.

Ruth B. Phillips
Canada Research Chair in Modern Culture and Professor of Art History
Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture (ICSLAC), Carleton University

 

Once again thank you for the wonderful experience. Every time I attend a New Sun Conference I come away with a deeper understanding of the issues facing Canada`s Aboriginal peoples. Your conference is a jewel! Thank you.

MH, PhD Candidate, Eric Sprott School of Management, Carleton University

 

This was my first opportunity to attend The New Sun Conference and I won't miss the next one!!!  I must say that it was a wonderful way to spend the day with fellow Anishinabe people who have worked hard to ensure that Aboriginal art is a vital part of the Canadian Arts Scene. I thought the presenters who shared their stories and experiences were most enlightening as they exemplified that one can remain true to their craft and still retain their "authentic" Aboriginal selves.  What a powerful way to express that Aboriginal people are so much more than "beads and feathers"!

Jani's performance of her song concerning young women's struggle in Chiapis was very heart wrenching and moved me to tears.  It demonstrated to me that authenticity is really about being human and about what you take from life experiences not the label you may be given.  It's no secret that Aboriginal people in this country have faced and continue to encounter hardship and struggles. The presenters were inspirational and demonstrated their strength to be authentic to  their artistic crafts. 

They also showed the diversity in Aboriginal cultures and the numerous ways in which Aboriginal people in Canada are contributing in all areas of the arts.  Too often we only hear the negative reactions that Aboriginal people have regarding their living conditions, and while some of the art does show anger and frustration, it is merely a reflection and quiet rebellion towards the "box" and "stat" that we find ourselves as Aboriginal people put in.

In addition to the interesting and talented presenters, I thought the conference was well organized and lunch was truly a treat!  I strongly hope that these conferences continue and would be more than willing to do my part to make this certain.  My only suggestions for improvement is: more bannock please!!!

SM, Mass Communications, Carleton University
 

I just wanted to tell you how much of an eye opener the New Sun Conference 2005 was. I come from an Ojibwa background but know little about it because of cut family ties, but I think conferences such as these give so much back to viewing the world in a different light. It made me proud of my heritage to see such fabulous aspects arising from the diverse Aboriginal people. Thanks so much for hosting such an event, I really enjoyed myself.

CR

 

I would like to thank you again for inviting me to be a part of the New Sun Conference, the day was enjoyable and informative. I wish you a great spring and summer and look forward to meeting you again sometime in the future. Should you ever be in the Batoche area please drop in at Gabriel's Crossing for tea.

Maria Campbell

 

I enjoyed the conference enough two years ago to drive from Toronto to Ottawa to attend it. This year the highlight for me definitely was the lunch with an opportunity to chat with scholars and students from different points across the country. During the lunch break, I finally met the author of a book given to me more than 20 years ago by my maternal aunt, who had asked Maria to sign it for me as a gift. Her handwritten note in the inside cover made note of the impact my paternal Uncle Mederic had had on her life.  During Campbell's lecture at the conference, she told a story she had actually first heard from my uncle Mederic many years ago. So, to finally meet the woman whose book has accompanied me for half my life and hear in person during lunch how much my Uncle had meant to her, was great. A fateful coincidence.

DM

 

Authentic Méétis Standing Tall

Authentic Méétis, stand tall to be counted. Stand tall with your self-respect and dignity. Stand tall before your family and friends in your respect of nature. Stand tall in your respect of your culture, your spirituality, justice, creativity, music, art, literature, sports, history and all those things that might define you as Méétis. Stand tall against racists and those detractors who show no respect for other human beings. Stand tall in your love, respect and appreciation of humanity. Stand tall with your ability to guide youth for they will learn, in their turn, to stand tall.

Authentic Méétis, stand tall for you know who you are!

© 2005 Louis Henry Reeves

 

I just wanted to write you a quick note to say that  I think that the 2005 New Sun Conference was great. Many thanks to all those who helped plan and organise this event.  I know how much work goes into holding an event such as this. The presenters were  all excellent and the conference topic of authenticity, is very thought provoking and we were reminded that authenticity is often difficult to define.  Thank you for having Inuit elder, Angaangaaq "Uncle" Lyberth, do the opening and closing ceremonies.  I am trying to learn more about Inuit culture.

The lunch time entertainment by Jani Lauzon and her fellow performers was excellent. I learned so much on March 5th.  As a further note, thank you so much for mentioning the Metis event that was going on at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre.  I took the "O" train and was able to get to the NFC in time for a wonderful feast, complete with good music and dancing. 

All in all it was a great day in which I could bask in my Aboriginal culture.

CE

 

I enjoyed your conference immensely. Lots of new tantalizing one liners I can use when next I talk about authenticity. The atmosphere was great - just like the folk music festivals I have been going to since I was in my teens - lots of irreverence, getting at the establishment, and trying to promote the socially responsible, all with lots of humour. The only thought I had afterwards, in the absence of all of Carleton's upper echelon people, was what about the press?

Herb Stovel
School of Canadian Studies, Carleton University

 

I just wanted to let you know that my husband and I really enjoyed the Conference on Saturday.  I was happy to see many colleagues and students from the School of Canadian Studies.  We also enjoyed the story telling by Maria Campbell.  The luncheon was five-star and Jani Lauzon's performance was excellent.  A good time had by all. 

MC

 

First, I wanted to thank you for that beautiful conference. Although I had to leave at noon (a close friend of mine was having a memorial service that I could not miss), I found the event so meaningful, spiritual and authentic. At the beginning I was trying to imagine how the Engineering space, with such unfriendly mechanical chairs could be conducive to a cultural event. By the time Elder Angaangaq “Uncle” Lyberth finished his opening prayer the room simply disappeared and the people’s presentations filled all the space.

DP

 

I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak at the Conference.  It was a good opportunity for me to reach a broader audience of people who are not all art afficionados or students at Carleton, but some who were there because of an interest in a broader range of topics like theatre, film, literature or native cuisine.  My wife, Maxine, and I both enjoyed the presentations which were informative and a fascinating mix.

The opportunity to listen to Maria Campbell reading from her book was very poignant for both of us, as coming from different cultures, we are both interested in the accents, cadences and rhythms of different languages and patois and the way in which dialect is so evocative of cultural experience. We have both enjoyed her books over the years so it was a wonderful chance to see her up close and personal. 


The luncheon was a terrific occasion to catch up with old friends we have not seen in ages and to make new friends as well, while enjoying the savory cuisine.  Jani Lauzon’s music was very special.  We were not familiar with her singing before and while we have known Arthur Renwick for several years and were familiar with his art, we did not know that he was such an accomplished guitarist. So we will certainly make it a point to buy their CD’s.  Jani’s historical overview of cultural stereotypes as they impinged on authenticity for Native American actresses at the turn of the century, and indeed, even today, was illuminating. 

As a Jamaican, Maxine was very interested in Phoebe and Warren Sutherland’s talk on Native and Jamaican cuisine and the chance to visit Sweetgrass that evening and compare her experience in preparing these two cuisines was a highlight for her. Needless to way we were both spoiled rotten by the high caliber of the meals at Sweetgrass and we have become converts for life.

Jason Ryle certainly opened up our eyes to what’s new in Native film, video and new media. It is too bad that Ottawa is still a cultural backwater when it comes to Native film makers screening their wares in the nation’s capital and it behooves us to organize a forum for showcasing these works here. Perhaps at Carleton University, hint, hint??? 

Finally, we were all the richer for having encountered the ice wisdom of Elder Angaangaq “Uncle” Lyberth. When I first contemplated the subject of  “authenticity” in Aboriginal arts, I realized that the topic is immense and that those who seek to present an understanding of  indigenous cultural experience in Canada are trying to reflect the experience of some 2,000,000 far flung Indian, Metis and Inuit peoples who speak hundreds of languages, live in an enormous variety of climates and geographies, have created wildly different cultures and experienced an abundance of different histories. I am constantly amazed that, given the difficulties under which most artists, writers, musicians and film makers, particularly those of native persuasions, labor in this country, that Aboriginal cultural vitality and authenticity is so alive and well. This Conference certainly served to underline this notion.

So where do you go from here? Probably, if this type of conference is to succeed in future, it will  have to grow, which is too bad, as I rather enjoyed the intimacy of it. However, I am certain that sponsors want razzle dazzle for their money and would like to see media coverage, publication of papers, keynote speakers, workshops and lengthier affairs. Perhaps new media can be made use of to spare such huge growth and development while ensuring that others across the country can be made aware of discussions at Carleton University each year about what is incubating in Aboriginal arts. 

All in all, I certainly learned more about the diversity and sophistication of our native cultures and for that I must thank you, Allan J. Over the years you have certainly worked hard to help foster awareness of our culture in Canada and I for one, very much appreciate your input.

Ron Noganosh

 

I enjoyed the conference very much and found the whole affair to be well orchestrated with a nice mix of speakers and topics. I particularly liked Ron's presentation and think he would make a great keynote speaker. I wanted to see more of his art, listen to the stories behind it, and generally hear his particular world view. His ability to blend pressing social and political problems with imaginative art and humour is brilliant and very honest. There was an overall charm and honesty to most of the presentations and a distinct lack of ego that made the day very pleasurable. The food was delicious and I loved the musical interlude to help us reflect, and digest. Jani sang a couple of songs that hit me right in the heart.

I think Jani could revise her talk a little and perhaps discuss more of her own experiences as a musician and puppeteer and tone down on the biography portrayal of someone else. I found the venue to be very nice and the tech support was bang on, from an audience point of view. I felt graciously welcomed with warm smiles when I arrived and an offer of refreshments. I had to scoot out just before 4:30 pm and would have loved to stay until the end. Overall, I give the conference 2 thumbs up and will definitely attend more in the future. Congratulations on such a wonderful event!

DH

 

Another impressive conference, congratulations. Good to see you - and I'm looking forward to the next!

NV

 

There were certainly several highlights for me, Allan.  I find that it is always wonderful to hear. Jani and we exchanged interesting data afterwards relating to her spoken presentation too. I had never seen an Inuk drummer use his fist before although I had read about it in the literature.  It was also fascinating to discover that he was an informant for my former student, Paula Conlon, when she did fieldwork on Baffin Island. And of course the food was delicious!!  Congratulations for carrying this through once again! 

Elaine Keillor
Department of Music, Carleton University

 

I want to thank you again for hosting the New Sun Conference and making it available to anyone interested in attending. I wish I could be more articulate at the moment, but I thought that the best thing to share with you is the post I made in my blog when I returned home the evening after the conference:

Listening to: The sound of Elder Angaangaq Lyberth's voice still resonating in my head.  This morning I barely felt like leaving the apartment, let alone for a conference starting at 9 am, but I'm so glad that I did! The speakers at the New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts were INCREDIBLE! I learned so much, and was moved many times over. The experience of listening to so many insightful perspectives was humbling.
In addition to that, I would like to say that the diversity of speakers was excellent -- their areas of expertise very eloquently addressed the notion of authenticity, particularly with regard to how they each challenged standard interpretations of the term.  It seems that one of the most important things to communicate to non-Aboriginal audiences about Aboriginal arts and culture is that it is not stagnant, or trapped in a time capsule. Nothing else in the world remains the same, so why do people find it so difficult to understand that Aboriginal culture also experiences change?

This is one of the ideas raised in an exhibition I am curating for the Ottawa Art Gallery called "My Culture Includes My Scene".  Generally speaking, the exhibition is about the hybrid nature of identity, particular now that people rarely define themselves according to ethno-centric values alone, but also in terms of things that influence their lives from the subcultures they are involved with, to the aspects of popular and consumer culture they encounter on a daily basis.  Greg Hill is one of the artists participating in the exhibition, and he will be showing "Cereal Box Canoe" and his "Ali-in-di-oh!" series.  At any rate, I would like to thank you again for developing the New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts. I was very happy to attend, and look forward to future events. 

Milena Placentile
Curatorial Resident, Ottawa Art Gallery

 

Just a note to let you know that I enjoyed the New Sun Conference held last Saturday. I particularly liked the presentation given by Ron Noganosh - it was very entertaining! Jani Lauzon's talk was interesting and the film clips provided by Jason Ryle were thought provoking. The short film "Potato Man" was very powerful. The food was good! I liked the venue - much better than the theatre style room used last year. I'm looking forward to next year's conference.

SH-D

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you Dr. Ryan for organising an event of such integrity. The New Sun Conference provides an opportunity for discussing the expression of the arts from a seldom heard Aboriginal perspective. There are few opportunities in the academy to interact with artists in this way, this is a very important event. Please continue it.

MM
 

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference – I wasn't familiar with any of the artists except Maria Campbell, and so I learned a lot, both from the speakers and the discussion. It's so vitally important to be aware of what artists in our community are creating, and it's equally vital to listen to Aboriginal voices and perspectives that challenge the silence and the stereotypes about First Nations and Metis experience. The conference was a great forum for both of these things. The lunch was fantastic.


On the theme of authenticity: one thing I noticed was that each of the speakers approached the theme largely through humour, not in order to dismiss its importance, but to demonstrate its complexity. Whether or not something is deemed authentic or not seems to have become a subject of ridicule for many, but as the program note implies, to dismiss the question of authenticity is to risk appropriation and commodification in the guise of a knowing irony. The question that was posed to Maria Campbell about Metis citizenship further demonstrated the complexity of the issue. I would attend this conference again and would urge my colleagues and friends to attend too. Thanks for organizing this conference, and for inviting our comments about it.

Jan Shroeder
Department of English, Carleton University

 

Thanks again for the dynamic line-up of speakers. I learned much and was inspired. Hope to see you again soon.

KH

 

What a fantastic day, I especially liked Jani's performance and lecture. She really made me think about audience needs - what would we have thought now, however, if they had used a non-native actress to play her roles?

Susan Heavens

Assembly of First Nations Health Secretariat
 

As always it was an incredible, stimulating, engaging, interesting day! In particular, I was so touched by Uncle - What a great soul! Hearing him speak gave me shivers, lifted my spirit, and brought peace into my mind and heart - what a great way to start and finish the day.

But of course for me the highlight of the day was Phoebe and Warren. I was so pleased by the way they spoke about food. Hearing Phoebe talk about how her culture played a role in her decision to cook confirmed for me that I am in fact looking at something significant and intriguing in my own research (always a great little boost). Furthermore, hearing them speak of the way they feel about food - their passion for it - the connection that they developed through food was also really important for me. I have been so out of the foodie loop since I started university, and hearing like-minded people speak about how they FEEL about food is always so inspiring to me - something that I really miss in the world of academia.


Additionally, it was refreshing for me (but hopefully for other people as well) to have this topic (food) brought into an academic forum. I hope it got other people thinking about food as a form of aesthetic expression and also how we can think about food intellectually. Not only Phoebe and Warren's talk, but also listening to what the other speakers had to say about the theme of authenticity was extremely helpful for me in my research.

All in all the day was so well rounded, amazing diversity ... and of course a great lunch - I would say the best yet!

AT

 

Many thanks for a well organized, informative conference. As a literature professor, I was delighted to have a chance to meet Maria Campbell, and I found Jani Lauzon's songs and lecture very interesting indeed. In fact, I found the mix of topics, from culinary delights to fascinating art and literature -- around the problematization of such an important theme as "authenticity" -- truly inspiring. I sincerely hope that Carleton will be able to host this kind of event again. My congratulations to you and your helpers.

Gurli Woods
Comparative Literary Studies, ICSLAC and Women's Studies, PJIWS, Carleton University

 

I wanted to tell you that the conference was enjoyable. My father and I found the conference both informative and interesting. I would definitely attend again.

JP

 

I just wanted to thank you for organizing another successful and insightful New Sun Conference  this year. I was really taken by the capacity crowd and the fact that your event attracts such a
wide variety of people from Carleton (students and professors from a variety of disciplines) and from the greater Ottawa community.  I was particularly struck this year with the attendance of National Gallery curators, Aboriginal leaders and community workers, and the large number of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal attendees (who I did not know personally). Everyone seemed to really enjoy the talks and presentations this year, largely due to the wide variety of speakers and the dynamic presentations that they gave. I encouraged my students to attend and am sure that they were not disappointed.  I know how much work goes into the event, so thanks again and we are all looking forward to the event next year.

Donna Patrick

School of Canadian Studies/Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University
 

I wasn't sure what to expect with the Conference.  Not being part of the community being recognized can sometimes bring feelings of nervousness. However, there is also a sense of excitement, for trying new food and most importantly, for learning.  Native issues are a touchy subject for many in Canada, but at the conference they were dealt with lightheartedly, and with humour.  That did not take away from their importance, but it allowed everyone to realize their importance, but in a manner that was perhaps unfamiliar to many.  The topic of authenticity was quite interesting to begin with, but to see how the guests incorporated the topic in their discussions was quite amazing!  The word itself is difficult to deal with, applying it in terms of culture is even more tricky!  Having guests from various arts made the day complete.  By the end you felt as though all arts had been represented, and not much had been left out. It was interesting to have Culinary Arts involved, since many still don't consider 'cooking' as 'art'.  But as they said themselves, they have a link with authenticity and culture even though Warren is Jamaican and Phoebe is Native. My favorite part of the day was Ron Noganosh's presentation. His time slot was too short I think, and unfortunately he had to end his presentation before he had discussed everything.  I can't explain exactly why I like Ron Noganosh...it may be his art, it may be his use of discarded material of daily life, it may be his humble yet confident personality, I'm not quite sure.  His presence is felt, and it was a welcoming presence.

I liked the idea of having the performance during the meal as well; it made the people get up from their seats, walk around and get fresh air yet still be part of the Conference.  The food itself was excellent, and I was impressed by the catering and the staff.  The New Sun Conference was a great overall experience, and I am hoping to attend it again next year.

TL

 

I just wanted to congratulate you on an excellent conference! It was great to hear differing perspectives from different professions on Native culture and on authenticity. The buffet was immaculate and we truly enjoyed the day on a whole. Thank you again for all your hard work and spreading the awareness of such an important conference.

FM

 

This was the first New Sun Conference I've attended and I was very pleased.  The guests were first-rate, and the organization was stellar.  My hat (if I had one) goes off to you and all the volunteers who worked so hard. I'd definitely like to be on your mailing list (or e-mail list) for upcoming events. Anyway, good work, and I look forward to upcoming events.

SS

 

Each year the New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts provides a series of presenters who entertain and inform. I have attended all four of these events, and each one has not only helped to expand my knowledge of  Aboriginal Arts, but has also grouped diverse artists under a thematic banner that encourages new ways of thinking about the arts and Aboriginality. This year the theme of authenticity really struck a chord, as the various artists presented their perspectives on tradition, identity, and life in the modern world. Although all of the presenters were excellent, I particularly enjoyed Maria Campbell, having used her writings in the high school environment. Each year I also meet new people at the renowned feast, and leave the day uplifted and better informed. I congratulate Professor Ryan for creating such a popular conference series, and it remains the highlight of the Winter semester for many of us at Carleton University.

Patricia Reynolds
Centre for Initiatives in Education, Carleton University

 

Thank you so much for your invitation to perform and lecture at the New Sun Conference. It was truly a wonderful and enlightening experience. I always welcome the opportunity to dialogue with people over very complicated issues, and also to share my music with those who are willing to listen. And what a meal! That was such a treat to dine with you all, sharing memories of the day over exquisite food. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Jani Lauzon

 

I hope you have received some positive feedback from the New Sun Conference.  I found it very insightful.  I really thought Ron Noganosh was very funny and honest and I was impressed by Warren and Phoebe and the work they are doing in their field. Congratulations on a successful event. Thanks again for allowing me to be involved.

Jennifer David
Debwe Communications

 

I only made it to the afternoon session therefore I cannot offer you a critique of the whole. Jason Ryle's talk on Aboriginal film certainly made me want to see more Aboriginal film and I am now interested in the film festival he mentioned. I particularly liked the experimental film where the Aboriginal man's face gradually became coloured with red paint, followed by sunglasses and a sun hat. It was eloquent and funny. The face paint appeared to represent the cultural revitalization that Aboriginal people have been experiencing and promoting since the 1960s.

I enjoyed Jani Lauzon' singing at lunch time. I think Ryle's and Lauzon's talks not only brought home the message of authenticity and acceptance of contemporary Aboriginal art, but created a desire to see more.  The Elder, Angaangaq “Uncle” Lyberth, was quite amazing and charismatic. I was there for his closing. My initial reaction to him was a feeling that he was trying to manipulate us and I was suspicious of his sincerity and motives at first. However, this changed during his song, while we had our eyes closed. After I opened my eyes I realized that I had been in an altered state, from the change of coming out of it. He managed to take us away with him for a little while. (I regretted having wasted part of this experience in resistance).
All in all, I am very glad that I made it to the afternoon session, and I look forward to the next New Sun Conference.

CG

 

I'd like to extend my thanks again for inviting imagineNATIVE to be a part of New Sun Conference. I think the event is very unique in its subject matter and from my experience it really opens people's eyes to the dynamic nature of Aboriginal arts. You guys are doing a fantastic job.

Jason Ryle
Chair, Board of Directors, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

 

Tan'si, I wanted to thank you for another great New Sun Conference. This year had many interesting speakers. Each year flows with a good momentum bringing together refreshing and unique concepts and conversations on arts and aesthetics in Native communities across Canada. It is so wonderful to have a space and time to reflect and talk about the diverse goals of Native artists and art supporters. I strongly believe WE need more conversations about art and its importance in cross cultural dialogues. I appreciated the first presenter, Ron Noganosh, because of his creativity and wit and his compassion for Aboriginal issues and current Canadian responses (or lack of responses). His presentation visually and poetically summarized a (dis)(en)couraging collective past and present experiences of Aboriginal peoples. Either way, I laughed at the end feeling powered up and inspired as a student and artist.

I enjoyed Jani’s entertainment and presentation on Native women performers. It was very interesting. It was also great to see films by aspiring Native artists. I hope to see more in the future. Other thoughts: the food was wikasiw (delicious)!!!

It was great to be in a wonderful environment. Gave much food for thought (thanks to Phoebe and her husband) for my future goals. Thank you so much.

LW

 

I thought this year's theme was quite intriguing and very timely. I know here at the Inuit Art Centre, we are receiving more and more requests about the igloo tag authentication system. The inclusion of Sweetgrass Bistro was an interesting addition, and I especially enjoyed Maria Campbell's story as well as Ron Naganosh's excellent presentation. He is brilliant, informative and very entertaining. I look forward to next year's conference.

Heather Campbell
Curator, Inuit Art Centre, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa

 

 

 

 
A presentation of the New Sun Chair in Aboriginal Art and Culture
with the support of the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences and the New Sun Fund
administered by the Community Foundation of Ottawa.