In the Community

Presenting Our Presence

New monthly vodcast amplifies voices and visibility of Indigenous knowledge holders who enliven the U of A community.

  • June 21, 2021
  • By Matthew McCreary

The team in the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Programming and Research Office is recognizing National Indigenous Peoples Day in a different fashion this year: they’re launching a vodcast. 

Presenting Our Presence, a new monthly vodcast airing today, will amplify the voices and visibility of the Indigenous knowledge holders, learners and change-makers who enliven the U of A community. The vodcast’s Indigenous-led protocols and ethics will center knowledge holders' sovereignty as stewards of their own stories, the team explains.

We asked two of the hearts and minds behind Presenting Our Presence—Florence Glanfield, Vice-Provost (Indigenous Programming & Research) and Cindy Gaudet, Assistant Professor at Campus Saint-Jean—to explain the spirit behind the new initiative. 

What is the driving idea or inspiration behind Presenting Our Presence? 

The inspiration emerged from a series of Virtual Teas that Florence has hosted throughout the pandemic—we invited every Indigenous colleague for whom we had contact info (it’s an open invitation). As we came together as Indigenous colleagues to share what is on our hearts and minds in this safe place and in a circle way, we increasingly became visible to one another. These teas were a way to tackle the isolation that comes with working from home and a space where job titles, units and disciplines dissipate. 

We’ve come to see that the responsibilities associated with acts of reconciliation and Indigenous initiatives are better supported as a collective. POP is a complementary space to the Teas that provides a safe space to share this deeply personal work and to amplify the voices and visibility of Indigenous knowledge holders, learners and change-makers who enliven the University of Alberta community. POP also aims to welcome the broader community in, offering a first-hand perspective of these peoples and their experiences.

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You can watch POP on YouTube, or listen to POP on Spotify or SoundCloud.

How do you see POP fitting into Indigenous initiatives today, both at the U of A and across Alberta and Canada?

The University of Alberta community is living in a beautiful and difficult time with an increased focus on anti-racism, Indigenous-led initiatives, cultural resurgence and community and collaborative approaches so as to better align with the values of our ancestors’ wisdom traditions. Learning with and from one another, connecting knowledge to family and community systems, seeing one another in our spirit and leading in new ways are critical for systemic change within our institution. 

While the University of Alberta was a leader in gender equality when it was first established, with women being welcomed, it was still established at a time when Indigenous peoples were not imagined as students, knowledge holders, contributors, nor leaders in this place. For a long portion of time, in fact, Indigenous peoples were legally not allowed to attend post-secondary. POP is an avenue to make visible and to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples who are currently at the University of Alberta.

What about Indigeneity in the university context makes POP an important start in this particular space? 

Indigeneity is full of complexity. Strengthening connections through the diverse and beautiful ways we as Indigenous peoples express who we are, what we do, and why we do it is enhanced as we share our experiences with one another. The University of Alberta has a diverse and supportive community of Indigenous instructors, students, researchers, staff, and alumni. Understanding Indigenous narratives that envelope and weave through the history of the university enriches the entire University of Alberta community. It also provides an opportunity to shine a light on some of the challenges of existing in this space.

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Florence Glanfield (Vice-Provost, Indigenous Programming & Research) and Cindy Gaudet  (Assistant Professor, Campus Saint-Jean)

What’s something that you hope viewers/listeners will take away from POP?

We hope that POP interrupts the colonial myths of Indigeneity while strengthening relationships. POP invites all listeners to think and to engage critically about the assumptions, ideologies and biases that continue to harm FNMI peoples with the false representations that try to diminish our humanity. As well, we invite listeners on their own sense-making journeys and who they are in relation to the systemic policies of dispossession of Indigenous peoples in this place now called Canada. 

Who is somebody you’d love to feature in an upcoming episode? 

We would so love to feature a colleague and member of the Indigenous Advisory Council, Kateryna Barnes, member of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Kateryna enlivens our space and conversation with her communications and web development work in the Faculty of Education and her masters research into decolonizing digital space from mapping to video games.

Can you preview the first episode for us? 

The first POP guest is Trudy Cardinal, colleague and associate professor in the Department of Elementary Education, whose beadwork is featured above. Through the sharing of her academic journey in education, she reminds us of the power of women, beading, children and the deep and important work of interrupting deficit-based thinking. Trudy’s story invites listeners to think critically about their role in the academy. This ties so perfectly into Maria Campbell's recent Big Thinking talk at Congress 2021 called Ni'wahkomakanak: All My Relations. Centering the next seven generations of children and considering deeply what we want them to inherit must be at the heart of all we do.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the U of A community?

We invite Indigenous colleagues who work in any capacity at the U of A to participate in the Virtual Teas by emailing us at iio@ualberta.ca. And, we also invite you to schedule a POP virtual visit at indigenouspop@ualberta.ca.


You can watch POP on YouTube, or listen to POP on Spotify  or SoundCloud.