BC Studies 2017: A Peek at the Program

As we approach BC Studies 2017 (May 4-6 at Vancouver Island University) speakers have been finalized and the program has been set. This year’s theme, (Un)Settling BritishColumbia, was influenced by the work of Arthur Manuel and his latest book, Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-up Call (2015, written with Grand Chief Ron Derrickson). At a Vancouver book launch (watch it here), Manuel explained the impetus for the book:

“What has been happening to us is totally wrong, and there has to be a real fundamental change in this country regarding treatment of us as Indigenous people. And it all stems back to the land.”

Last year, we invited Arthur Manuel to be the keynote speaker for the BC Studies conference. Sadly, Manuel passed away in January 2017, leaving a powerful legacy shaped by his lifelong fight for the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and around the world. You can read a few of the many moving tributes to Manuel here, here, and here.

To acknowledge and honour Manuel, BC Studies 2017 will feature a stand-alone session titled Implementing Arthur Manuel's Vision: Unsettling BC and Canada. This will held on Thursday May 4th at 3:30 p.m. and will be livestreamed and archived for the public. The session will be moderated by VIU Chancellor Louise Mandell and feature Manuel’s son, Ska-Hiish Manuel, friend, Russell Diabo, and partner Nicole Schabus. Together, the panel will address and invite all participants to answer the question with which Arthur Manuel entitled one of his last articles: “What are you going to do about it?”

Other sessions planned for the conference reflect the relationships and tensions between the settled and the unsettled in British Columbia and Canada. Panels address: the uses and meanings of land; intersecting identities in BC’s past and present; teaching the history of British Columbia; maps as tools of cultural preservation and community engagement; historic dislocations and treaty negotiations; archival practices and land; literary and media representations; Reconciliation in institutions and communities, and student experiences of Indigenization. Keywords from paper titles also reveal that many papers address questions of water, landscape, land title, labour, archeology, museums, language, history, community, and trans-Pacific relations - to name just a few.

The BC Studies 2017 program features 82 individual papers, six roundtable discussions, and a poster session. Over 100 registrants will be attending from across Vancouver Island and British Columbia, from Washington State, as well as points east such as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and even the United Kingdom.

We are also pleased to feature the Vancouver Island premiere screening of the film All our Father’s Relations (Winner, Best Canadian Feature, Vancouver Asian Film Festival, 2016; Official Selection, DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon, 2017):

All Our Father’s Relations (祖根父脈) tells the story of the Grant siblings who journey from Vancouver to China in an attempt to rediscover their father’s roots and better understand his fractured relationship with their Musqueam mother. Raised primarily in the traditions of the Musqueam people, the Grant family and their story reveals the shared struggles of migrants and Aboriginal peoples today and in the past. This film helps to record and revitalize the interconnected histories of Chinese Canadian and First Nations relations along the Fraser River in British Columbia. Dating as far back as the 19th century, relations between Chinese and First Nations in Canada were often respectful and mutually beneficial; both peoples supported one another in the face of marginalization and racism.[1]

The screening will be free and open to the public. It will take place in VIU’s Malaspina Theatre on Friday evening at 7:00 pm. 

There’s still time to register for the conference -- either for the full three days or for single-day attendance. You can find registration, the program, and other details here: BC Studies Registration.

Katharine Rollwagen, Kelly Black, & Tim Lewis

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