Matthew Weigel

Full Name: Matthew James WeigelPhoto of Matthew Weigel

Nation: Deninu Kue Dene and Métis

I graduated with a B.Sc. in Biological Sciences with a Philosophy minor
I was in progress on a B.A. English after degree, but now I’m starting on an M.A. in English. I’ve loved my time in both faculties, but I really feel at home in Arts at the English department.

Why did you pick the University of Alberta?
The UofA has always been a place I consider home. I was born at the University hospital and have lived in Edmonton my whole life. The UofA is a really great school with lots of opportunities in many areas, especially research. Also, my mom graduated from the UofA with an education degree when I was younger, and I think she was the first person in my family to get a university degree. So I’ve always known if I was going to go to university it would be here.

What advice would you give your previous self when starting your first year?
So much advice! It took me a long time to really find my way through university and I struggled a lot for a long time.

I think the two most important pieces of advice would be: talk to Accessibility Resources! There is a lot of help available, both through that office and elsewhere. Asking for help can be difficult, and figuring out how to get help can be even more difficult, but there are lots of great folks that are eager to help you.
The other piece of advice would be, it’s ok if you don’t know what you want to do when you start, and it’s ok if you end up in a different direction than you started out in. I didn’t start out in science, and now I’m in graduate school in the arts, so you just never know.

Oh, and keep going. Just, keep going.

What instructor or individual inspires you? Why?
Everyone at the University inspires me. I’ve been really fortunate to encounter many inspirational instructors and individuals in different fields. I am constantly meeting people from all walks of life that have overcome unique challenges, and everyone here has a story.

But I definitely have to give a special shout-out to Jordan Abel, a professor in the English Department I’ve been very fortunate to get to work with. As a poet and artist, I draw a lot of inspiration from the work he’s done. But also he’s just a great instructor and mentor.

Is there a class that inspired you? If so, how?
I’ve taken a lot of inspiring classes, so I’ll give a couple. In the faculty of science it would have to be introductory invertebrate diversity, that class changed the entire trajectory of my education, began my love of aquariums, and ultimately after taking advanced invertebrate biology, I ended up working at an aquarium full time.

In the Faculty of Arts though, it would have to be the Indigenous poetry course that Jordan Abel taught in Winter 2019 (ENGL309). That was a really beautiful space, and at times really challenging. But I learned a lot and produced some of my absolute best work.

What do you plan on doing after completing your undergraduate degree?
I recently got accepted into the graduate program in the English Department, so I’ll be continuing my work on the print culture of the numbered treaties. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to apply all the learning I’ve done in Arts and Science. It might seem strange that I do art and poetry about treaty with a background in ecology. But the research skills I learned in science have helped prepare me for a lot of the heavy archival based work I do now. Also, treaty is all about the land and my work always ties back to my deep love for the land.

What's the one thing, you can't live without?
Oh it has to be coffee.

What do you do to have fun?
I love to look at the invertebrates in the pond outside Humanities. It faces south and gets a lot of great sunlight. It’s an amazing spot. If I need to unwind, I’ll go sit at the pond and watch the snails and water beetles. If I have a bit more time I’ll go down to the river. The river is really so important to me and my family history in this place. But that being said, sometimes I just want to play Nintendo!

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I think the thing people are always most surprised to find out is how much I love Formula 1! I’ve watched every single race since the Belgian grand prix in 2008 and I’m very passionate about the sport.

What is a cause you are passionate about?
Sharing the stories of treaty and sovereignty. And not just the numbered treaties, because there’s a lot of structures of colonial violence associated with how they were made and continue to operate. I’m passionate about the first treaties of the land that informed the spirit of the treaties with the crown. I’m passionate about advocating for the sovereignty of the nations of plants and animals that we interact with all the time. Those interactions and relationships are the basis of everything. That’s what I try to communicate with my art and writing. I’m passionate about trying my best to share these stories in a way that’s not just accessible, but hopefully in ways that are meaningful and effective as well.