Concordia students share their research — and how it benefits Indigenous communities

Brooke Rice and Victoria May take first and second place in the inaugural Miywâcimo! storytelling competition
April 5, 2022
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Three women on stools facing judges table, audience members and screen projection of Zoom participants Brooke Rice: “Our ways are remembered through living them.” | Photos by Lisa Graves

Miywâcimo! means tell a good story in Cree. And on March 30, that’s exactly what happened.

The Concordia community had the privilege of listening to important and heartfelt stories by four graduate students who took part in the new Indigenous storytelling competition.

The first instalment of the awards competition unfolded at 4TH SPACE and was broadcast live on its YouTube channel and by webinar.

The event furthers Concordia’s commitment to developing Indigenous research capacity and creating new funding opportunities for Indigenous students.

“It was an honour to be part of the first-ever storytelling awards competition, helping to coordinate the event and as presenter, audience member and supporter of the incredible talent that we saw on the stage,” says Aidan Condo, event coordinator for Indigenous Directions.

“As a Concordia student, Miywâcimo! reinforces how proud I am to be part of the Indigenous Directions team. We’re doing important work to create more opportunities for Indigenous students, faculty and staff and weaving culturally relevant ways of being and knowing into the fabric of the university.”

4 stories, 4 minutes each

Miywâcimo! provided students with a platform to present and highlight the importance of their research. The participants shared four-minute stories with an audience, including a judging panel of Concordia professors and Indigenous community members. The judges then deliberated on the first- and second-place presentations.

“Storytelling is foundational to traditional Indigenous ways of knowing. From generation to generation, stories instill a greater understanding of the connectedness of the mind, body, soul, family, community and land, across time,” explains Manon Tremblay, senior director of Indigenous Directions.

“During my opening words, it was a heartfelt moment knowing that this is the first of an annual tradition in supporting Indigenous students at Concordia to share their research that stands to benefit Indigenous communities.”

At the close of the presentations, the four judges spoke about the difficulty in arriving at a decision. But after their deliberations, they ultimately awarded first place to Brooke Rice for her presentation “Kehia:ra’s – I remember” and runner-up to Victoria May for her presentation “Dancing my way home.”

“I congratulate Amanda, Brooke, Julianne and Victoria for their generosity of spirit in sharing their research and wonderful storytelling. Both their research topics and use of storytelling as a medium were meaningfully combined to honour and preserve Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing,” Tremblay says.

“I’m already looking forward to next year’s talented cohort of student storytellers.”

The four storytellers share more about their research and motivations, and event judge Bimadoshka Pucan, assistant professor of history and at Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs, discusses the importance of their presentations.

Brooke Rice
Master’s student, Individualized Program (INDI)
Competition winner
Presentation: “Kehia:ra's - I remember”

Brooke Rice: Our ways are remembered through living them. When we live with the land, we remember that we are the land. We treat all creation better because we understand we are one. My research is remembering the deep relation of Skywoman, the Turtle and our lunar cycles of Grandma Moon.

The collective journey of weaving my web of kinnections by immersive experiential learning was all guided by Grandma Moon, building relations with those who left footprints before us for the faces yet to come (future generations).

Bimadoshka Pucan: Brooke’s statement “ceremonial knowledge is living knowledge” really nailed it for me. Ceremony is not separate but part of the whole. For First Peoples of this land, it is imbedded in how we think, learn, know and respond to our shared reality.

Ceremonial connection is the thread that unites the descendants of the original people of North America. Her research quest is quite beautiful to behold. Researchers should pay close attention to a vital part of Brooke’s work, which is the importance of building community capacity with the knowledge she is gaining here at Concordia.

Woman with long hair on podium speaking and gesturing with arms Brooke Rice

Victoria May
PhD student, Individualized Program (INDI)
Competition runner-up
Presentation: “Dancing my way home”

Victoria May: For the competition, I spoke about my artistic and research process, my positionality and my methodology through the storytelling of making a pair of dancer’s moccasins.

My research interests lie in the examination of the history, dynamics and impact of introducing ballet to Canada in the 1930s. I study how it affected Indigenous representation of dance as an art form and Indigenous dancers in the arts and entertainment sector today.

In line with Indigenous methodological approaches to research, I will work with the artistic metaphor of “footwear” across cultural worlds, using both moccasins and pointe shoes. In addition to my dissertation, my research will also be disseminated through dance and documentary film, for viewing beyond academic circles to artists and community members.

Bimadoshka Pucan: Victoria connects movement and language. Her innovative methods open new insights to teaching and learning language. I was personally excited by her explanation of using dictionaries of the past to support writing in Michif today. Brilliant!

Woman posing with one leg extended with one arm chest level and the other reaching out Victoria May

Julianne Dumont
PhD Student, clinical psychology, Department of Psychology
Presentation: “Identifying resilience pathways for Anishinabe youth”

Julianne Dumont: Crucially, my doctoral research will empirically assess strategies that are complementary to mainstream treatment approaches with adaptations to acknowledge and integrate Anishinabeg ways of healing.

The framework advocates for us to decolonize our practice to truly understand how cultural factors can affect the well-being of Anishinabe Peoples and, in turn, inform best practices for culturally relevant evidence-based practice.

Bimadoshka Pucan: Julianne is a polished academic. Her love of community and focus on resilience drives her research into Mino Bimaadiziwin to improve mental-health strategies. Stories from the pandemic are highlighting the importance of accessing land and land-based activities to support mental health for Indigenous Peoples.

Livestream video projection of smiling young woman with brown hair Julianne Dumont

Amanda Shawayahamish K.Wynn
MA student, Individualized Program, Social Science
Presentation: "Bizindan aabajitoon Shkiizhiigoon gaye gitowagan” - Listen using eyes and ears 

Amanda Shawayahamish K.Wynn: The residential school system took away the language, stories, ceremonies and traditions of who I am — my family’s Anishinaabe identity. My MA project is based on my personal journey of collecting and putting the missing pieces together of my family’s history, traditions and stories.

Part of my goal is to share my knowledge with other Indigenous Peoples who are on their journey of putting their pieces together.

Bimadoshka Pucan: Amanda is taking beadwork to a whole new level by working alongside her grandmother to engage with stories on the land and explore how beads come together to transmit story.

Woman wearing purple sweater, sitting in stool, with screen presentation slide depicting beadwork Amanda Shawayahamish K.Wynn

The inaugural Miywâcimo! competition judges were:

  • Ron Abraira, full-time lecturer, Department of Management, John Molson School of Business, and coordinator of the Dobson Practicum
  • Bimadoshka Pucan, assistant professor, Department of History, School of Community and Public Affairs, Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Nicholas Renaud, assistant professor, First Peoples Studies, School of Community and Public Affairs, Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Anne Whitelaw, provost and vice-president, academic


Watch the
Miywâcimo! storytelling competition on 4TH SPACE’s YouTube channel and don’t forget to register for the Pîkiskwêtân (Let’s Talk), Concordia’s Indigenous Learning Series.

 



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