Sharing Breath: Embodied Learning and Decolonization

Saturday, November 10, 2018 - 9:00am

Discussions about Indigenizing the academy have abounded in Canada over the past few years. And yet, despite the numerous policies and reports that have been written, there is a lack of clarity around what pedagogical methods could help to decolonize our institutions. Sharing Breath: Embodied Learning and Decolonization edited by Sheila Batacharya and Yuk-Lin Renita Wong demonstrates how the academy cannot be decolonized while we still subscribe to the Western idea of mind over body. The book acknowledges and draws attention to the incommensurability between decolonization and aspects of social justice projects in education.

The contributors to this collection, including OCAD U’s Susan Ferguson, Director of the Writing and Learning Centre, argue that connecting the body, mind, and the spirit is integral to decolonization projects and to the reimagining of pedagogy. By providing a useful range of embodied ways of teaching, learning, and knowing for scholars to consider, this “field-building” book maps out an area for embodiment scholarship in education.


Venue & Address: 
University of Toronto OISE 252 Bloor St. W. Room 5-260
poster for book launch

Forest Therapy at High Park

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - 1:00pm to 4:00pm

This three-hour guided activity and discussion, led by Carolynne Crawley, will focus on breaking down colonial ways of thinking that separate people from the their natural surroundings, and building responsible and reciprocal relations with the land. Crawley will integrate methods from the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, or forest bathing, with traditional Indigenous knowledge to consider our relations with all beings, and connect with the land through all of our senses.

Carolynne Crawley is a Mi'kmaw woman with African and Celtic ancestry and a forest therapy trainer and mentor. She works as Indigenous Food Access Manager at Foodshare Toronto and is involved in environmental justice and food security. Crawley is interested in sharing her knowledge of traditional skills such as harvesting foods and medicines and has organized a three-month cross-cultural youth program, Teachings from the Land, that focuses on food justice and relationship with self, others and the land, as well as a province-wide Indigenous Food Sovereignty Gathering.

Please wear weather-appropriate clothing, sturdy footwear, and bring water and a snack. This is a low-energy activity, so check the weather and dress so that you will be able to keep warm while walking slowly and standing outdoors. We will meet at the north entrance to High Park, on the south-side of Bloor street, opposite High Park subway station.

Please confirm attendance by emailing

Unfortunately this event is not wheelchair accessible.

This activity is part of Decolonizing the Land, curriculum development project led by Professor Amish Morrell and supported by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. This initiative aims to explore ways of integrating land-based knowledge into artistic, pedagogical and curatorial practice, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and faculty.

Venue & Address: 
High Park North Entrance

Orange Shirt Day at OCAD U

Orange Shirt Day graphic
Friday, September 28, 2018 - 8:30am

On Friday, September 28, OCAD University invites you join our community in the observation of Orange Shirt Day, held annually in remembrance and recognition of the experiences of residential school survivors. Simply wear an orange shirt or an orange accessory, to participate. 

Orange Shirt Day grew out of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad's story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of residential school. It provides an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually, and, in the spirit of reconciliation, come together as a community in remembrance and hope for generations of children to come, with the message that “Every Child Matters.”

Engage with Indigenous knowledge at OCAD U

In the Learning Zone:
Come and check out the OCAD Zine Library's new zine display with a focus on Indigenous peoples and decolonization, which is a priority for collection development of the zine library. A few highlights from the collection on display includeColonization and Decolonization: A Manual for Indigenous Liberation in the 21st Century, Locusts: A Post-Queer Nation Zine and Muchacha Decolonize Travel.

In the Library:
Check out a display from the Library’s collection of Indigenous authors. Highlights from the display include The inconvenient Indian: a curious account of Native People in North America by Thomas King, Surviving Canadaby Myra Tait (Editor); Kiera Ladner (Editor), and Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spiritby Lynn Gehl.

Speaker Series: Expansive Approaches to Indigenous Art Histories
An ongoing series of free talks by Indigenous artists, curators, and scholars
Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.
205 Richmond St. W., Room 420

September 20:  Susan Blight
September 27: Lisa Myers
October 18: Richard Hill

Models for writing and teaching art historical knowledge have traditionally emerged from a western framework. The implications for knowledge formed under this lineage are often wrapped up in questions of perception and culture. Within conversations about Indigenous art, these factors call into play ideas of pedagogy and practice. The question of how Indigenous artists, curators, and scholars define art historical knowledge in relation to their own work locates Indigenous art histories in practices that come from contemporary and dynamic Indigenous-led research. Expansive Approaches to Indigenous Art Histories is a speaker series organized to question: What are Indigenous art histories? Who authors them? For what purpose? How does this knowledge get stored? How is it shared? And what ethical considerations emerge as a result of these shifts in thinking? This series is made possible by the Faculty of Graduate Studies through the Graduate Studies Indigenous Innovation Fund.

Visit the OCAD U’s Indigenous Visual Culture Student Centre
The Indigenous Student Centre offers a welcoming learning environment with a wide range of specialized services to support academic, cultural, social and emotional well-being of Indigenous students at OCAD University. A culturally activated space where students can meet, study or relax between classes, the INVC Student Centre hosts weekly events, guest lectures, workshops, visiting artists, field trips and extra-curricular activities supporting Indigenous visual arts and culture. The centre includes a resource library and archive, computer workstations, lounge, workspace and amenities including a microwave, fridge, coffee maker and snacks. Drop by, or connect on Facebook and Twitter.


Speaker series: Expansive Approaches to Indigenous Art Histories

Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 10:00am to Thursday, October 18, 2018 - 10:00am

Models for writing and teaching art historical knowledge have traditionally emerged from a western framework. The implications for knowledge formed under this lineage are often wrapped up in questions of perception and culture. Within conversations about Indigenous art, these factors call into play ideas of pedagogy and practice. The question of how Indigenous artists, curators, and scholars define art historical knowledge in relation to their own work locates Indigenous art histories in practices that come from contemporary and dynamic Indigenous-led research. Expansive Approaches to Indigenous Art Histories is a speaker series organized to question: What are Indigenous art histories? Who authors them? For what purpose? How does this knowledge get stored? How is it shared? And what ethical considerations emerge as a result of these shifts in thinking?

Presentations are scheduled take place Thursdays from 10 to 11:20 a.m. in room 420, 205 Richmond St. W. The first five of eleven speakers this term are:

September 6: Alan Corbiere
September 13: Bonnie Devine
September 20:  Susan Blight
September 27: Lisa Myers
October 18: Richard Hill
October 25: Jaimie Isaac
November 1: Carmen Robertson
November 8: Peter Morin
November 15: Cathy Mattes
November 22: Gerald McMaster
November 29: Candice Hopkins

All are welcome!

This series is made possible by the Faculty of Graduate Studies through the Graduate Studies Indigenous Innovation Fund.

Venue & Address: 
205 Richmond St. W., room 420
Poster with same text as the body of this event listing

Launch of Uncover/Recover at the ROM

Karalyn Reuben - holds up a small square beaded thunderbird panel
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

On Thursday, July 26, the ROM and OCAD U presented their joint web-based project Uncover/Recover. This collaboration began last year, when students in the Indigenous Visual Culture program (INVC), led by Professor Bonnie Devine, received an opportunity to interact with, and respond to, Indigenous artifacts from the ROM’s archives. The project was designed to promote dialogue and exchange between the objects, Indigenous peoples and the Museum.

Eight students each chose an artifact and interpreted the object using video, animation, beading, material arts, music and sound, among other media. The result will be interactive and viewable via a website accessible across the province.


  • Shawn Johnston - Deer claw rattle
  • Mariah Meawasige - Small birchbark scroll with herbal motifs
  • Ana Morningstar - Men’s composite dance regalia, waistcoat
  • Megan Feheley - Woman’s beaded peaked hood, James Bay Cree
  • Kaia’tanoron Dumoulin - Iroquoian bird effigy pipe       
  • Karalyn Reuben - Beaded thunderbird panel
  • Michael Crawford - Fishing net weaving gauge and needle
  • Meagan Van Capelle -  Métis men’s beaded leggings

Thanks to funding from the Government of Ontario, the university was able to hire graduate and undergraduate research assistants from the Digital Futures program to work on this course: Wendy Whaley, Bernie Leroux, Samuel Strong and Samaa Ahmed. Elisha Lim (MFA, CCP 2017) is the project manager.

A panel moderated by Professor Devine followed the presentation of the works at the ROM. Panelists included:

  • Mark Engstrom ROM Senior Curator and Deputy Director of Collections and Research
  • Elwood Jimmy Curator and cultural activator
  • Ange Loft Multi-disciplinary artist and performer
  • Fallon Simard Visual artist and multi-media video maker

This project illustrates how the INVC program can interface with Digital Futures to create something new and exciting, and it deepened OCAD U’s important relationship with the ROM.


Professor Bonnie Devine behind a podium with beaded digital animation on screen next to her
Students Megan Felehey and Kaia’tanoron Dumoulin
Men’s composite dance regalia, waistcoat, under a glass case

Jeremy Dutcher shortlisted for Polaris Prize

Jeremy Dutcher singing and playing a grand piano on stage at Roy Thomson Hall
Thursday, July 19, 2018

First Nations musician Jeremy Dutcher’s performance was one of the highlights of the 2018 OCAD U convocation ceremonies. Now, the composer, pianist and operatic tenor has made the shortlist for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize, presented by CBC Music.

Dutcher’s debut album, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa (Our Maliseets Songs), features the rearrangement of early 1900 wax cylinder recordings from his community, Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. He learned of the recordings from an elder and tracked them down at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau. The music on his album meshes voices from the recordings with classical and electronic music, creating a unique genre of its own. Dutcher says fewer than 100 people speak Wolastoq today.

Albums released between June 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018 can be considered for the Polaris prize. An independent jury of music journalists, broadcasters and bloggers from across Canada determine the Long List and Short List. Eleven people from the larger jury pool are chosen to serve on the Grand Jury. This Grand Jury will convene on September 17, the night of the gala, to select the Polaris Music Prize winner. This year it takes place in Toronto at the Carlu.

Melissa General wins Emerging Leadership award from Ontario Arts Council

Melissa General
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Melissa General, an OCAD U Photography alumna and the Manager of the university’s Indigenous Visual Culture Student Centre & Services, has been selected to receive an emerging leadership award from the Ontario Arts Council. The award recognizes a rising Indigenous artist or arts professional with a $2,500 prize, with the recipient being nominated annually by the OAC’s annual Indigenous Arts Award winner, who was Nadya Kwandibens in 2018.

Melissa is Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, audio, video and installation. Her practice is focused on her home territory of Six Nations and the concepts of memory, language and land. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and shows in Ontario, Manitoba and Québec. She is also a contributor to the national billboard project Resilience, curated by Lee-Ann Martin. In addition to her BFA in Photography from OCAD U, Melissa holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from York University.

Congratulations Melissa! 


INVC students offer sneak peek into ROM collaboration

Group photo of students and others involved in the project
Monday, April 9, 2018

A museum technician in white gloves laid out a beaded vest and an ornate hood at the media preview of Uncover/Recover at the Royal Ontario Museum April 6. Imbued with history, culture and artistry, these colourful artifacts are among the objects from the ROM’s archives that nine students from the INVC program are researching for an interactive digital project. The result, Uncover/Recover, will be an online learning environment that incorporates photography, sound, digital manipulation and time-based media.

At the preview, students Megan Feheley and Shawn Johnston spoke about how they developed their works, what inspired them and the travel and research they undertook for this deeply personal project. Feheley will transform and animate images derived from beadwork, while Johnston’s audio work will incorporate the sounds of a deer hoof rattle.

Bonnie Devine, associate professor and the founding chair of the INVC program, believes the project will bring the stories of these artifacts to viewers across the province, and country.  

The Uncover/Recover website will be online this summer thanks to funding support from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

Female student standing next to a table with hood and vest artifacts
a man and three women standing for photo

Call to Action from the Provost’s Taskforce on Indigenous Learning

Friday, February 16, 2018

We, the undersigned members of the Provost’s Taskforce on Indigenous Learning, join together to express our solidarity with the family of Colten Boushie, the Plains Cree/Nehiyiw community of Red Pheasant First Nation, and Indigenous people across Canada who are reeling this week in shock, grief, anger and despair following the acquittal of Gerald Stanley. We support President Diamond’s statement issued earlier this week, the communication from Idle No More to Canadian universities, as well as the communication from Universities Canada.

We condemn in the strongest terms the systemic racism that has given Canadians a legal system that is set up against Indigenous people, that ignores Indigenous rights, and that all too often, allows Indigenous children and youth to bear the brunt of white privilege and colonial violence. 

We, the undersigned, call on you, the faculty, students and staff of OCAD U, to join us in the work of creating a different kind of university community and a different kind of country — one where honest exchange and mutual respect can help us understand and undo the racist ideology and colonial attitudes that form Canada’s constitutional foundation and legal structure.

This will be hard work. The true history of Indigenous/Settler relations in Canada is difficult knowledge and not easy to hear. OCAD U began this work in 2008 when it committed to Indigenous learning and reconciliation by establishing the Indigenous Visual Culture program. This led to curriculum reform, Indigenous faculty hires, the development of the INVC student centre, and a growing awareness that we, as individuals and as a community, are responsible for making change and bringing about lasting justice; that we are in fact all — yes, all of us — treaty people. OCAD U’s Academic Plan continues this important work with its commitment to Indigenous learning. Courses are available, information is accessible, and many on campus are increasingly aware of the issues and are willing to discuss these matters. Let us talk together.

Thus we call on you to join us in this work! We ask you to support us this week as we, the Indigenous faculty, students, and staff among you, as well as our non-Indigenous allies, struggle to come to terms with yet another devastating failure of justice. We ask you to reach out to those around you who may be facing similar physical, psychological or traumatic crises. Above all, we urge you to support us as we move forward to seize this opportunity, to activate our sorrow and anger, to build a truer, stronger solidarity and a truer, stronger era of justice in our country.


Francisco Alvarez, Dorene & Peter Milligan Executive Director, OCAD U Galleries
Jason Baerg, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Art
Tony Belcourt, Co-Chair, Aboriginal Education Council
Christine Crosbie, Manager, Communications & Media
Valerie De Souza, Manager, University Governance
Bonnie Devine, Anishinaabe, Associate Professor, Founding Chair, Indigenous Visual Culture, Co-Chair of Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Learning
Kaiatanoron Dumoulin Bush, Indigenous Student Representative - OCAD U Student Union, Indigenous Student Association Co-President
Megan Feheley, Indigenous Student Association Co-President
Susan Ferguson, Director, Writing & Learning Centre
Deanne Fisher, Vice-Provost, Students & International
Richard Fung, Professor, Faculty of Art
David M. General, Mentor/Advisor, INVC Student Centre
Melissa General, Manager, INVC Student Centre
Shawna Howe, Indigenous Student Counsellor, INVC Student Centre
Caroline Seck Langill, Dean, Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Ashok Mathur, Ph.D., Dean, Graduate Studies 
Gerald McMaster, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Indigenous Visual Culture & Curatorial Practice
Ana Morningstar, Member of the Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Learning
Howard Munroe, Assistant Professor, M.Ed B.Ed BDes (Distinction) Diploma
Tannis Nielsen, M.V.S (Métis) TIS-Lecturer 
Lewis Nicholson, Associate Professor
Connor Pion, Student Success Coordinator, INVC Student Centre
Diane Pugen, Associate Professor, Faculty of Art
Ryan Rice, Kanien’kehá:ka Delaney Chair, Indigenous Visual Culture
Amanda Robertson-Hébert, Program Assistant Xpace Cultural Centre
Gillian Siddall, Vice-President, Academic and Provost, Co-Chair of Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Learning
Vlad Spicanovic, Dean, Faculty of Art
Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall [African American], Dean, Faculty of Design and ally to the Indigenous struggle
Katheryn Wabegijig, Indigenous Student Recruiter, INVC
b.h. Yael, Professor, Faculty of Art, Integrated Media and Art & Social Change, Chair of Senate

Need support? 
OCAD University Health & Wellness Centre
Indigenous Student Services

Want more information about the case?
Idle No More: Discussion guide for Colten Boushie    
CBC: What happened on Gerald Stanley's farm the day Colten Boushie was shot, as told by witnesses
Maclean’s: Canada’s long road to the Colten Boushie verdict

Want more information about Indigenous issues and activism?
Idle No More
National Enquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Chiefs of Ontario
Métis Nation of Ontario
Truth and Reconciliation Commission



Info Session - GroundWorks: an Indigenous intensive learning experience

GroundWorks Banner
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Every July, the University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus in Kelowna) holds a four-week Indigenous intensive program featuring numerous guest lecturers, resident artists, visiting curators, and cohorts of graduate and undergraduate students.

There are courses in visual art, creative writing, Indigenous studies, all toward developing an immersive learning experience.

This year, the Dean of Graduate Studies at OCAD U will be offering “GroundWorks,” an independent study for up to five graduate students which will involve:

  • an initial visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery to participate in the inaugural exhibition by Tarah Hogue, Senior Indigenous curatorial fellow;
  • a two-week participatory residency at the UBCO campus in Kelowna;
  • and participation in the “Beyond Reconciliation” seminar at the end of July, also in Kelowna.

Activities will include a seminar and conversation with the artists at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Peter Morin and Ayumi Goto), studio and lecture visits at UBCO, participation in formal and informal course offerings, and a visit to the BUSH gallery, a conceptual space for land based art and action led by Indigenous artists in Neskonlith (two hours from Kelowna).

As an immersive environment, Groundworks will be portfolio based, with students consulting with the instructor to determine individual trajectories.

This course will be of particular interest to students who wish to engage with Indigenous artistic practices and ways of knowing, but is also of general interest, so students would not need this to be a focus of their Masters project.

We will hold a short information session on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 701K at 205 Richmond Street West to show past intensives and answer questions.

Students will be granted airfare to Vancouver and bus transport to Kelowna, and accommodation for three days in Vancouver and two weeks in Kelowna. They will be asked to present on their experiences to the wider graduate community in the fall of 2018.

Students should submit a letter of interest by March 19, 2018.

The letter should express:

  1. your interest in attending the course 
  2. why you think this would be advantageous for you and your area of study
  3. your availability for the entire16 days (July 12 to July 28)**

**You will need to be available to fly from Toronto to Vancouver on July 12 and return by flight from Kelowna on July 28 (we will go to Kelowna by bus or road transport around July 15 or 16). 


Venue & Address: 
Room 701K @ 205 Richmond Street