Anishinaabe Elder and artist Rene Meshake and Métis scholar Kim Anderson will perform music and share art as part of their presentation for the York University Health and Society program’s second annual lecture. The free event, titled “Injichaag: Storytelling and the Soul of an Indigenous Artist,” will take place at 1 p.m. on March 4 in room 519 Kaneff Building at the Keele Campus.
Meshake and Anderson will share material related to their recently launched book Injichaag: My Soul in Story. Meshake will play the flute and share his visual art and poetry, while Anderson will read and talk about the book, relating how history, story and Anishinaabe “word bundles” are significant in terms of health and society.
Described as “more than a memoir,” Meshake and Anderson’s book shares Meshake’s stories, poetry and “word bundles” that serve as a dictionary of Ojibwe poetics. The book follows Meshake’s life from his early “bush university” years being raised by his grandmother in northwestern Ontario, through his experience in the residential school system and subsequent decades of struggle and healing, to his sobriety and career as an artist, musician and writer. Meshake’s artistic vision and poetic lens provide a unique telling of a story of colonization and recovery. The material is organized thematically around a series of Meshake’s paintings and is framed by Anderson, Meshake’s “Odaanisan” (adopted daughter).
Meshake is a storyteller, visual and performing artist, award-winning author, flute player, multimedia artist and a recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. By blending Anishinaabe and English words into his performances, he communicates his spiritual heritage and poetics. His education includes Anishinaabe oral tradition, language, arts and culture. Meshake studied creative writing at the School for Writing at Humber College. He has an active online presence as a “Funky-Elder.”
Anderson is a Métis writer and educator, working as an associate professor in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph. She holds a PhD in history and is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Relationships. Anderson has written about Indigenous mothering, Indigenous feminism, Indigenous masculinities and Indigenous knowledge in urban settings, and has an evolving interest in arts-based and land-based methods of research.
York University’s Health & Society program provides students with a toolkit for understanding health and illness, both as lived realities and as reflections of larger social, cultural and political processes, on a scale ranging from the interpersonal to the international. The program focuses on the kind of practical knowledge gained from experiential learning and seeks to combine this with the development of rigorous critical analysis. Taken together, the courses that comprise a Health and Society degree give students a truly comprehensive understanding of health.
Other events hosted by York’s Health and Society program are listed on the program’s website.