I am a xwélmexw scholar and artist (Stó:lō/Skwah). From 2015-2022 I was the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s University on Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe lands. As of July 2022 I am excited to return home to lhq’a:lets / Vancouver to serve as Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia in the School of Music, and Advisor to the Dean on Indigenous Arts.
My work takes various forms including writing (from event scores to autotheory), gatherings, curatorial practice and interarts creation. This range of forms offers me a space to integrate the sonic, visual, poetic and material that are inseparable in Stó:lō culture. Across these forms, I identify as a scholar of sound studies and visual studies, as a collaborator on interdisciplinary research-creation, and as a facilitator (curator/dramaturge) of art and gathering.
In the area of Indigenous sonic culture, my research centers the epistemological stakes of listening positionality. Much of my research has examined the appropriation of Indigenous song in contemporary classical music, and artistic practices of repatriation and redress. Continuing this work, I lead the Indigenous Advisory Council of the Canadian Music Centre as co-chair with Marion Newman, to redress the appropriation of Indigenous song and mis-reperesentation of Indigenous culture in Canadian compositions. Another project, Xóxelhmetset te Syewá:l | Caring for Our Ancestors, involves Indigenous-led processes for re-connecting kinship between Indigenous songs and material culture—variously understood as loved ones, ancestors, life—and the communities that they come from. The project also takes as a central objective an examination of the carceral logics of museums as spaces that confine Indigenous life.
My research on Indigenous public art is characterized by a focus on inter-arts forms (text-based art, sound art and devised performance) that engage multiple senses. This work questions how Indigenous rights and settler colonialism are embodied and spatialized in public space. My most recent work in this area examines public art and civic beautification initiatives in Canada that interpellate settler subjectivity by re-materializing colonial history. Doing so enacts violence toward Indigenous lands as a non-human relation that such work is situated upon.
In all these areas my aim is to prioritize Indigenous resurgence and to re-envision dominant scholarly modes of dissemination (writing, gathering, festival and exhibition curation), working toward forms of expression that convey the sensory experience of Indigenous life, and address Indigenous publics. This work has been recognized by the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association’s Best First Book Award (Hungry Listening), the American Musicological Society’s Ruth Solie Award (Music and Modernity) and the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Ellen Koskoff Prize (Music and Modernity) in addition to other awards I have been honoured to receive.
As a Halq’emeylem language learner, I seek to engage the vibrancy of shxwélmexw concepts and to foster the emergence of a future public of Halq’eméylem speakers.