York-led symposium explores Indigenous media art archives, Oct. 17 and 18

Two students looking at a computer monitor

A two-day symposium featuring York University scholars and artists will bring together Indigenous artists, film and media specialists, archivists, curators, Knowledge Keepers, Elders, memory workers and scholars from across Canada to focus on Indigenous archival methods and protocols.

The Indigenous Archives Gathering, running Oct. 17 and 18, will explore themes of traces and care through three perspectives: access; engagement; and activation of archives from different First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities as well as regions.

The event is organized by York-based research organization Archive/Counter-Archive in collaboration with the imagineNATIVE Film Festival and TIFF Bell Lightbox, the venue hosting the symposium.

A promotional image with a film still of a figure leaning off the back of a large boat with a wooden sculpture on their back. The bottom of the image has in big block letter "The Indigenous Archives Gathering" with pink, blue, purple, and yellow colour blocks around it.

Archive/Counter-Archive is a project dedicated to activating and remediating audiovisual archives created by Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), Black communities and people of colour, women, LGBT2Q+ and immigrant communities. It is a seven-year research-creation project led by Professor Janine Marchessault in York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performand and Design (AMPD) and funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant. The partnership is composed of four universities (York, Toronto Metropolitan, Queen’s, and Concordia), numerous communities, memory institutions, and policy advocates.

The aim of the symposium is to foster vital conversations and allow participants to share knowledge, identify needs, best practices, and experiences about the current state of Indigenous media art archives in Canada. Opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to continue cultural practices of gathering and collaboration are incredibly important given the long history of colonial attempts through legislation and pass and permit systems to control movement, mobility and the ability to come together.

In addition to speaker panels and keynote talks, the event will also feature a screening program and two Indigenous-only workshops. The symposium will be opened by Grandmother Pauline Shirt, an Elder, Knowledge and Wisdom Keeper, and activist who is greatly recognized for her commitment to the Toronto Indigenous community.

On the evening of the first day of the event, there will be an opening reception for Lisa Myers‘ (current York faculty) new curated exhibition at Vtape called “Press the Record Button: Considering the Archives of Mike MacDonald.”

York-affiliated participants screening work or presenting their research are: Myers (current faculty), Suzanne Morrissette (PhD alumni), Stacy Allison-Cassin (former York librarian), and Jennifer Dysart (MFA alumni).

About Archive/Counter-Archive
In 2017, York Research Chair in Media Art and Social Engagement Janine Marchessault received a Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to the tune of $2.499 million for her multi-faceted project Archive/Counter-Archive: Activating Canada’s Moving Image Heritage. It had 43 co-applicants and collaborators from across Canada and globally, nine from York University across a variety of Faculties. It also involved 24 partner organizations from across Canada. The work emanating from this project began in 2018 and will span all the way to 2024.