On January 20th Jeannette Armstrong delivered the 2017 Guelph Lecture on Being Canadian, presented here in its entirety. This annual lecture is part of the ArtsEverywhere Festival, a festival of ideas that combines music, art, and conversation to illuminate pressing issues that beset contemporary life. This event was emcee’d by Melanie Goodchild, and Dr. Armstrong’s lecture was preceded by a presentation by journalist Ann Hui, and a musical set by Midnight Shine.
In her talk, Dr. Armstrong connects her experiences on the land in the Okanagan to the need for Canadians to heal their relationships with one another and re-evaluate the ways in which we conceive of community, family, and the natural landscape. She also discusses the healing potential in the transmission of our stories and knowledge through language, and the social and institutional constructs that shape and confine our values.
Both educator and protector, Jeannette Armstrong is a professor of Indigenous Studies and a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Philosophy at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan). She is a Spokesperson for indigenous peoples’ rights. The award-winning writer and activist, novelist and poet has always sought to change deeply biased misconceptions related to Aboriginal peoples. Her research into indigenous philosophies and Okanagan Syilx thought and environmental ethics that are coded into Syilx literature has been recognized locally and globally, and she serves as an active member of the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the En’owkin Centre. Known for her literary work, Armstrong has written about creativity, education, ecology and Indigenous rights. Slash, which Armstrong published in 1985, is considered by many as the first novel by a First Nations woman.