First Nations in Contemporary Culture Panel Discussion

The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre is hosting a First Nations in Contemporary Culture Panel Discussion on March 25th. Starting at 7pm in the Centre’s Tolko Millennium Foyer, this discussion features a panel of six speakers including Santee Smith, Mariel Belanger, Margo Tamez, Stephen Foster, Jordan Bennett and Amy Malbeuf. Admission is free.

Santee Smith – Mohawk: Artistic Director of Kaha:Wi Dance Theatre
Santee (Mohawk) is from Six Nations, Ontario and holds a Masters Degree in Dance from York University and attended Canada’s National Ballet School. An innovative choreographer, she produces her dance productions nationally and internationally. A sought after teacher, Santee teaches students at all levels of dance and from all backgrounds.

Mariel Belanger – Sylix (Okanagan First Nations)
Mariel Belanger is an actor, mentor, writer, video artist and member of the Okanagan Nation, graduated from Media and Communications General Arts and Sciences in Ottawa, graduated from the NAPAT program at Enowkin and trained in acting in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Mariel currently trains at the Actors Foundry.

Margo Tamez – Lipan Apache
A scholar, poet, and human rights defender, she is recognized as an Indigenous ambassador to the United Nations who has represented the Konitsaaíí Ndé (“Big Water People”) and Cúelcahén Ndé (“Tall Grass People”) of Konitsaii gokiyaa (‘Lipan Apache home land’).
She was born and grew up in the territory of Lipan Apache peoples in South Texas, the Lower Rio Grande Valley and along the Texas-Mexico border. Tamez’s 2007 work, Raven Eye, is considered the first Apache-authored literary work which fuses creative non-fiction, biography, poetry and criticism of the colonization and militarization of Indigenous peoples in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

As an Indigenous human rights advocate, an educator, poet and critic, Tamez has made social and intellectual contributions to Indigenous communities in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, as well as to Indigenous teaching at college and university level. She is a social justice and human rights advocate and intellectual, focusing on U.S.-Mexico Indigenous peoples impacted by border bifurcations, treaties, war, conflict and militarization.

Stephen Foster – Haida/European descent
Stephen Foster is a video and electronic media artist of mixed Haida and European background. His work tends to deal with issues of indigenous representation in popular culture through personal narrative. He has exhibited in solo as well as group exhibitions both internationally and nationally as well as participating in various festivals with video installations and single channel works. In 2007 Stephen received his first opportunity to present a retrospective screening of his video work at the Dawson City International Short Film Festival. In addition to his exhibition record, Stephen is a published author, presented lectures and has participated on panels for new media, video art and contemporary indigenous art at national and international venues. Stephen is currently an Associate Professor in the Creative Studies Dept. and is the Director of the Summer Institute for Interdisciplinary Indigenous Graduate Studies at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan. He is also the coordinator of the CanWest Global Centre for Artists’ Video and instructs courses dedicated to video production, digital media and visual and cultural theory.

Jordan Bennett – Mi’kmaq
Jordan Bennett is a multi-disciplinary visual artist of Mi’kmaq heritage from Stephenville Crossing Newfoundland. Jordan has exhibited extensively in Canada and abroad, in venues such as The Museum of Art and Design, NYC, NY; Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, NM; Project Space Gallery, RMIT, Melbourne, AUS; The Power Plant, Toronto, ON; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, QC; McMichael Art Gallery. Kleinburg, ON, The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver BC amongst many others. Jordan has been officially selected to exhibit and represent Newfoundland and Labrador in the 2015 Venice Biennial, as well as recently being awarded the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Councils Artist of the Year and named as one of the artists in the 2014 Blouin ARTINFO’s Top 30 under 30 in Canada. Jordan is currently working towards a MFA from the University of British Columbia Okanagan with a particular focus on exploring notions of the living artifact within traditional Indigenous and contemporary art forms through the processes of sculpture, film and digital media, endurance performance, painting and sound installation.

Amy Malbeuf – Métis
Amy Malbeuf is a visual artist of Métis heritage from Rich Lake, Alberta. Malbeuf lives and works in Kelowna where she is working towards a MFA from the University of British Columbia Okanagan. She holds a Native Cultural Arts Certificate from Portage College and a BFA from Alberta College of Art and Design. Through utilising the mediums of caribou hair tufting, beadwork, installation, and performance she explores notions of identity, place, tradition, language, and ecology. Malbeuf has exhibited her work at such places as the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton; Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina; Kings ARI, Melbourne, Australia; Forest City Gallery, London; and Stride Gallery, Calgary. Malbeuf has participated in many international artist residencies including at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Labrador Research Institute, and The Banff Centre.

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