University of Washington

October Newsletter 2012

Dear Colleagues,
Welcome to fall quarter! I am very pleased to report on the breadth of scholarship on indigenous nations in Canada occurring at the University of Washington. In late summer Sharon Hargus, Linguistics, co-chaired a conference on Athabaskan/Dene languages with our partner institution, Western Washington University; Katie Bunn-Marcuse hosted several First Nations artists at the Bill Holm Center; and, Daniel Hart, Center chair, along with Charlotte Coté, American Indian Studies, are currently co-hosts of a six-part UWTV series, Voices of First Peoples. Find their stories below along with reports from Center affiliated faculty, FLAS Fellows, our Killam Fellow, and one of our teacher associates. – Nadine

Canadian Studies Center, October Report, 2012
Documentary Film Series on UWTV – Voices of the First Peoples

The Canadian Studies Center is proud to be a partner in the new UWTV series, Voices of the First Peoples, showing the culture, struggles and heritage of Native people from across Canada and the United States.

The film series includes feature-length documentary films that have won acclaim at international film festivals, including the award-winning A Century of Genocide, which tells of the abuse of Native children in government and church boarding schools in Canada. The series also features many other films with a strong cross-border focus, dealing with issues ranging from identity, history and First Nations political activism, and cultural revival.

The series was produced in collaboration with the U.W.’s Department of American Indian Studies. Voices of the First Peoples is hosted by Canadian Studies director and filmmaker, Professor Daniel Hart, and Charlotte Coté, Associate Professor, Department of American Indian Studies, Affiliated Faculty, Canadian Studies Center, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, and Chair, UW Intellectual House Planning and Advisory Committee. Hart is also co-Director of the long-running indigenous film program, Native Voices, within the Department of American Indian Studies. Many of these student-produced films from Native Voices air as part of the new series, including Frybread Babes by Steffany Suttle, Half of Anything by Jonathan Tomhave, and American Red and Black: Stories of Afro-Native Identity by Alicia Woods.

The series can be watched exclusively on UWTV channel 27, Sunday nights at 7 p.m., or online via simulcast at New episodes of the eight-part series will premiere each week. Find out more about the series and upcoming films at

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Canadian Studies Center, October Report, 2012
Canadian First Nations Artist in Residence at U.W.
by Katie Bunn-Marcuse, Bill Holm Center, Burke Museum

Sonny Assu studied the Kwakwaka’wakw collection at the Burke Museum in July 2012 on a grant from the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art. Assu is Ligwildaʼxw of the We Wai Kai First Nation (Cape Mudge). An interdisciplinary artist, Assu describes his work as “merging Northwest Coast iconography with the aesthetics of popular culture to challenge the social and historical values placed upon both.” His work explores his mixed ancestry and appropriates or transforms items of consumer and popular culture to trace the lineage of his own personal life. He is interested in ideas around Indigenous issues and rights, branding and new technologies. Assu says that his unique twist on Northwest Coast design comes from a desire to “contribute to a modern, contemporary discourse that places Northwest Coast form-line design smack in the middle of the contemporary art world.” Assu’s research in the Kwakwaka’wakw collection at the Burke Museum focused on potlatch regalia and objects associated with certain ceremonial dances. Assu reported that he hoped “to utilize this research to inform not only my current body of painting and design work, but I would like to use it as a starting point to formulate a new project that will be used to fulfill my recently received Canada Council production grant. “Consumption” will be a project that challenges the eye of authority behind anthropological institutions and tourist based curio shops.”

Assu’s work has been featured in several solo and group exhibits over the past years, notably Don’t Stop Me Now! and Comic Relief at the National Gallery of Canada, Beat Nation and How Soon is Now? at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Changing Hands: Art With Reservation Part 2 at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. He is one of many visiting artist/researchers that the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art will host this year at the Burke Museum.

Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse is Assistant Director of the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art at the Burke Museum where she helps to facilitate grants to First Nations artists studying their heritage in museum collections. She is a Visiting Lecturer in Art History and American Indian Studies and an affiliated faculty of the Canadian Studies Department at the University of Washington.

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Canadian Studies Center, October Report, 2012
2012 Athabaskan/Dene Languages Conference at Western Washington University
by Sharon Hargus, Linguistics

Bruce Starlight, director of Tsuut’ina Gunaha Institute, Tsuut’ina First Nation, Alberta, speaking on ‘Teaching Tsuut’ina’ (photo by Siri G. Tuttle)

First Nations community language specialists and scholars from Canada and the United States gathered at Western Washington University (WWU), August 15-17, 2012, to share information about the Athabaskan/Dene languages, a group of about 40 related languages spoken in the interior of Alaska, much of western Canada, the southwest United States and various locations on the Pacific coast.

Meeting almost annually since 1980, the conference has had the goal of advancing the study and preservation of the languages of the Athabaskan or Dene family. The 2012 conference included presentations on structural aspects of the languages by linguists, as well as presentations on language pedagogy by language teachers from some of the communities where the languages of the family are spoken, including Cold Lake, Alberta (Denesųɬiné language), Moricetown, British Columbia (Witsuwit’en language), and Rae, Northwest Territories (Tlįchǫ language).

The language family has been known by two names for some time. Athapasca was first bestowed on the family by Gallatin 1836. Variant spellings are Athabaskan, Athabascan (preferred in Alaska), and Athapaskan (preferred in Canada). The term Dene is a generalized form of the word for “person, man”, which occurs in a similar form in most of the languages of the family; e.g. Dakelh (Carrier) dune, Navajo diné, Gwich’in dinjii. This term also made its first appearance in the 19th century (e.g. Petitot 1876). The conference has historically been called the Athabaskan Languages Conference, using the generally accepted term among linguists, but for some years at this conference, many community members, particularly those from Canadian communities, have expressed a preference that the language family be referred to as Dene rather than Athabaskan. The issue came to a head at the 2012 conference, and at the business meeting on August 16, participants voted unanimously to change the name of future meetings to the Dene Languages Conference.

The conference was co-organized by Edward Vajda, WWU Department of Modern and Classical Languagesm and Sharon Hargus, UW Linguistics and an Affiliate Faculty of Canadian Studies. Major funding for the conference was provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation (Arctic Social Sciences Program). The proceedings will be published by the Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, in 2013.

The 2013 Dene Languages Conference will be hosted by the Tsuut’ina Gunaha Institute, Tsuut’ina First Nation, Alberta.

Sharon Hargus is currently involved in projects related to the documentation of four Native American or First Nations languages: Sahaptin (Yakima dialect) (spoken in Washington state), Deg Xinag (spoken in Alaska), Kwadacha (Ft. Ware) Sekani (Tsek'ene), and Witsuwit'en (spoken in British Columbia). She has been an Affiliate of the Center since 1990. Sharon is chair of the dissertation committee for Canadian Studies Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow Julia Miller for Dane-Zaa (2006-07, 07-08, 08-09). In the last six years the Canadian Studies Center has awarded at total of 16 FLAS Fellowships for the acquisition of Canadian indigenous languages – a leader in the nation.

Gallatin, Albert. 1836. 'A Synopsis of the Indian Tribes within the United States East of            the Rocky Mountains, and in the British and Russian Possessions in North America.'          Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society II:1-422.
Petitot, Emile, o.m.i. 1876. Dictionnaire de la langue dènè-dindjiè, dialectes montagnais           ou chippewayan, peaux de lièvre et loucheux: enfermant en outre un grand                     nombre de termes propres à sept autres dialectes de la même langue: précédé                 d'une monographie des Dènè-dindjiè, d'une grammaire et de tableaux synoptiques           des conjugaisons. Paris and San Francisco: E. Leroux and A.L. Bancroft.

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Canadian Studies Center, October Report, 2012
Tar Sands? Oil Sands? Two U.W. Delegates Travel to Northern Alberta
by Todd Wildermuth, School of Law

Anne DeMelle holding a sample of bitumen later refined into oil.

In late August, Todd Wildermuth, School of Law, and Anne DeMelle, Program on the Environment, participated in the Energy and Environmental Study Tour to Alberta.

The Energy and Environment Study Tour to Alberta on August 28-30, 2012, was extraordinary in many respects. The governments of Canada and Alberta are keenly interested in developing their oil sands resources and eager to convince the global community they can do so with no worse effects than oil produced elsewhere. To their great credit, and as a result of decades of government and private research, companies are finding new ways to extract oil from Albertan sands with a smaller physical footprint. The iconic images of the tar sands – the massive strip mines, the tailings ponds, the enormous trucks moving tons of earth – are apparently the past, and not the future, of oil sands production.

With newer, less intrusive, and mostly underground methods of obtaining oil, the locus of discussion has changed overwhelmingly to climate change. Again, due credit goes to the provincial and federal governments for attempting to reduce the carbon intensity of oil sands production. Alas, most of the carbon contribution of a barrel of oil comes from its ultimate consumption, so improving production efficiencies only takes one so far. What, then, is Canada's or Alberta's climate change responsibility to the global community? Given the many downsides of climate change, should Alberta consider an alternative course of leaving this oil in the ground?

On this tour, these were the great unanswered – indeed, largely unasked – questions. The focus of this tour was almost exclusively how to get more oil out of the sands more profitably and more efficiently. Standing atop one of the world's largest readily developable pools of carbon, I was amazed and dismayed. Amazed at the great industry and intelligence that Canadians have invested in making oil from the sands an accessible national asset. Dismayed that no similar enthusiasm or creativity has been brought to rethinking that asset's danger in a changing climate.

Delegates from across the United States travel to Fort McMurray to few, first hand, Alberta's oil/tar sands. Todd Wildermuth (far left), Anne DeMelle (third from left).

Participants on the Study Tour traveled to Edmonton, Alberta where they met with the Government of Alberta and other representatives. On Wednesday, 29 August 2012, they traveled to Fort McMurray and visited the oil sands mining and in situ sites. On their return to Edmonton the group met with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance.

Todd A. Wildermuth is Scholar in Residence at the University of Washington School of Law and recently joined the Canadian Studies Center as an Affiliated Faculty. He teaches courses in land use permitting and land conservation, and coordinates the environmental and natural resource law program of the law school. Todd will be incorporating the issue of Alberta energy development into his course, “Land-Use Planning and Permitting in Practice,” Fall Quarter 2012, and into a case study for the U.W. Program on the Environment honors seminar, Spring 2013. 

Anne DeMelle runs a graduate certificate program in the U.W.'s Program on the Environment to help launch the next generation of environmental leaders. Previously, Anne developed sustainable business strategies and has raised millions to support the ground-breaking work of non-profits that protect public health and the environment. In fall and winter quarters Anne will be working with a group of U.W. graduate students as they advise the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the environmental risks associated with shipping tar sands oil near or through U.S. waters.

The Energy and Environment Study Tour to Alberta was sponsored by the Government of Canada and Government of Alberta.

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Canadian Studies Center, October Report, 2012
Canada Can Maintain Ties with Virtual Embassies
by Philip Howard, Communication

On 24 September 2012, Philip Howard's OpEd piece on virtual embassies was published in The Globe and Mail. For the full article, click here.








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Canadian Studies Center, October Report, 2012
Board of Directors of the Association of Canadian Studies

Morna McEachern, Social Work, and Program Manager for Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium (PNWCSC), has recently been invited to join the board of directors of the Association of Canadian Studies in the United States (ACSUS) and to serve as its secretary. This is a particularly interesting and challenging time for ACSUS, due to the total, global elimination of the “Understanding Canada” grants by the Canadian government. These grants were a primary source of support for ACSUS and both the board and the executive director are working vigorously and creatively to maintain the vital work that ACSUS does for Canada and Canadian Studies. It is a wonderful honour that Morna has been invited to serve at this critical time.

The Canadian Studies Center is an institutional member of ACSUS.

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Canadian Studies Center, October Report, 2012
Killam Fellow Visits the U.S. Ambassador to Canada!
by Jenny Irene Miller, BFA in Photomedia & BA in American Indian Studies

Jenny at Lake Huron in Ontario.

My journey to London, Ontario began in Fairbanks, Alaska where I spent one of my last weeks of summer break before school began. After about 19 hours of travel time – including layovers – I arrived in London on the evening of September 1st. I must say that long and tiring journey was well worth it! Smelling and feeling the hot and humid air grace my skin in London was my first indication that I was indeed very far away from my home in Alaska. As a matter of fact, the farthest I have ever been from my home! I have to say that the people here in Canada have made me feel as if I am home. Everyone I have met from the grocery clerks to my peers at school have been very welcoming.

My initial weeks spent at Western University (I was informed of the recent name change from the University of Western Ontario) has been interesting, enjoyable, and thus far a great experience. My art practice is being challenged through my Advanced Time-Based Production: Digital Sound course taught by an inspiring artist and Professor, Chris Myhr. Moving from the visual medium of photography to a sonic medium has already changed the way I perceive the world and I believe this will greatly add to my art. Currently, I am working on a soundscape composition, where the environmental context is preserved. It is similar to the composition of a photograph where the details, in this case are the sounds, which are enhanced to further involve the viewer’s awareness of the environment.

Without a doubt my favorite place at Western University is the Indigenous Services center.  Upon my first day of visiting I was introduced to several students and staff working or visiting in the center – making me feel even more at home in a place where I did not know anyone. It is a community full of friendly smiles. Additionally, every first Wednesday of each month Indigenous Services hosts a corn soup day for students and staff to fill their empty stomachs with delicious food and to fuel their hard working brains.

Killam Fellows meet in Ottawa for a four-day orientation including a game of hockey! 

These past couple of weeks of living in Canada have been some of the most exciting and beautiful moments in my life. I am very thankful for this opportunity to study with such great peers, professors and to have the ability to further my knowledge of our neighbor country. Over the weekend of September 13th I traveled to the capital Ottawa, where I had the chance to meet other exceptional Killam students from all over the United States and Canada during the Killam Orientation. It was an influential weekend filled with laughs, study, Canadian culture, and art. We came from across North America and were involved in diverse areas of study, but we were all able to make connections with each other that have formed friendships.

Over the weekend we got to explore Ottawa, the Parliament, play hockey, and visit the Canadian War Museum. A highlight was meeting the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, at his lovely home in Ottawa. What an action packed weekend it was!

I am excited and extremely grateful for my studies here at Western University. Furthermore I look forward to exploring this wonderful country!

Jenny Irene Miller is seeking a double degree, a BFA in Photomedia and a BA in American Indian Studies. She is U.W.’s
 2012–13 Killam Fellow. The Killam Fellowships Program provides an opportunity for exceptional undergraduate students from universities in the United States to spend either one semester or a full academic year as an exchange student in Canada. Killam provides a cash award of $5,000 U.S. per semester ($10,000 for a full academic year), an all expense paid three day orientation in Ottawa, and a three day all expense paid seminar in Washington. The Canadian Studies Center is a partner institution with the Killam Foundation enabling up to two full academic year fellowships annually for U.W. students. For more information on the Killam Fellowship contact the Center at

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Canadian Studies Center, October Report, 2012
FLAS Ethnomusicology Awardee Spends the Summer in Montréal
by Hilary Johnson, Summer FLAS 2012, Ethnomusicology

Hilary at vieux-port in Montréal

This summer I was enrolled in six weeks of intensive French courses at POINT3 Language Center in the Old Port of Montréal. During my stay, I shared a classroom and developed friendships with people from all around the world. In addition to morning lessons devoted to advanced grammatical concepts, enhancing our vocabularies and fluency, afternoons were spent debating polemics, or candidly speaking about our personal lives and worldviews. Workshops on the local Québécois dialect—infused with lessons on their rich cultural history—were particularly valuable. The concept of language as culture, indivisible from national identity and place, was made evident to me on a daily basis in the streets of Montréal and the rural regions of Québec.

With a greater ability to communicate in French, as well as my activity as a musician, I was provided a cultural access point—the medium through which I’ve developed personal relationships with Canadians of distinct and varying cultural identities. My interest in the use of music and French language to project images of the “Québécois nation” only grew when I was able to examine how contemporary genres in Québec also represent “nations within a nation within a nation”-- including the Métis and Acadian peoples. In addition to living with Montréaler musicians and attending concerts and jam sessions, I participated in a government-sponsored musical tour of Québec. Witnessing Canadian models of hybridity, identity formation, and cultural resistance in musical performance, I was able to pursue my research agenda: blending musical analysis and a study of state interventionist policies in cultural domains. Through FLAS and the support of the Canadian Studies Center, I was able to explore critical themes within my own research as well as in the field of Ethnomusicology.

Funding for FLAS Fellowships is provided by a Center allocation from International and Foreign Language Education, U.S. Department of Education. Visit our FLAS page:

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Canadian Studies Center, October Report, 2012
Canada in the Ida B. Wells High School at the U.W.
by Paulette Thompson, K-12 STUDY CANADA Teacher Associate

How often do you get to discuss Canadian literature and multiculturalism over breakfast with fellow educators over a weekend? Along with a group of 11 high school teachers and teacher-administrators from Washington State I had a chance to do just that while attending the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival in October 2000. The weekend was subsidized by the Canadian Consulate and organized by U.W.’s Canadian Studies Center. The main requirement along with breakfast discussions was that we attend sessions featuring Canadian authors and Canadian content.

On that Friday afternoon after a day of teaching, we headed north and braved the weekend traffic. We arrived into Vancouver, checked into the bed and breakfast, and then headed to Granville Island for our first foray – The Literary Cabaret.

The Literary Cabaret features an incredible band, Poetic License, and five to six authors. The Literary Cabaret helped me understand the concept of synergy. The musicians do not merely accompany the poets and authors; the music is an integral part of the presentation. I started imagining the projects that I could create in my classroom! The Literary Cabaret remains my favorite session to this day.

Concurrent sessions during the Writers Fest provided so many opportunities to engage. We even attended sessions on science writers, creative non-fiction writers, historians and poets as well as panel on whether writers have an obligation to be activists. We missed the sessions held earlier in the week featuring French-language authors.

That first whirlwind of a weekend got me hooked. I have attended the Writers Fest every year since. I believe paying to go to the Writers and Readers Festival from Seattle every year of great personal and professional value.

Although I haven’t received clock hours or credit since the early days, my students and colleagues benefit from my participation. I share what I hear, read and learn. Attending the festival inspires me as a writer and a teacher. I find that it really feeds my soul.

Every year at the Writers Fest I buy Canadian fiction and nonfiction, some for pleasure and others for teaching. I still try to find ways to incorporate Canadian content and authors in my classroom. It can be done.

Attending the Writers Fest helped me to adjust to my new teaching position as a Humanities teacher at the Ida B. Wells School for Social Justice at the University of Washington ( Ida B. Wells is an alternative high school that provides a diverse, multicultural curriculum and a coordinated studies approach to learning. This public school, serving about 40 students, is a joint-endeavor between U.W.’s Office of Minority Affairs, the U.W. College of Education, and the Seattle School District. At Ida B Wells, I include Canadian fiction in the World Literature section of Humanities. We read famous Canadian authors such as Nalo Hopkinson, Anne Cameron, J.B. McKinnon, Alisa Smith, Naomi Klein and David Suzuki.

At last year’s Writers Fest I heard a powerful poem by Jamaica-born Canadian poet and author Olive Senior. That poem, “Meditation on Yellow” ( demanded to be used in my curriculum last year when I taught Caribbean colonization. So I did!

In 2010 I attended a session where Canadian writers Wayne Grady and Merilyn Simonds were two of the panelists. Grady is primarily a science writer while Simonds is an essayist/novelist and a master gardener. The couple wrote a book together, Breakfast at the Last Exit Café , during a long road trip through the United States. As I listened to Grady and Simonds talk, I found their idea of reflective travel provocative. I bought the book and really enjoyed it. Both Simonds and Grady are Canadian-born yet in their book they write about being in situations as outsiders. Simonds lived in South America as a child while Grady found out as an adult that his father hid the family’s African American heritage. Students relate to the feeling of being outsiders. I decided that I could use it for Humanities as it works for history, government and Language Arts content. My students will be writing a one- two page response to Wayne Grady and Merilyn Simonds.

This year’s Writers Fest is on the horizon. I already have my tickets. And yes, I will be discussing Canadian and U.S. literature over lunch with family and the Canadian friends I’ve met at the Fest over the years. Wouldn’t it be great if my students could do the same?

Paulette Thompson is a K-12 STUDY CANADA Teacher Associate and alumna of the 32nd Annual K-12 STUDY CANADA Summer Institute, Ottawa and Montréal, 2011. “STUDY CANADA,” the Pacific Northwest National Resource Center on Canada’s annual professional development workshop, has been offered by the Center for Canadian-American Studies at Western Washington University for the last 34 years serving educators from almost every state in the nation. The Institute is funded, in part, by a Title VI grant from International and Foreign Language Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education. Paulette is a Humanities and World Language Teacher in the Ida B. Wells School for Social Justice and a U.W. graduate student in Education, Curriculum and Instruction (Multicultural Education). View the K-12 STUDY CANADA website

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Co-organizers of the Athabaskan/Dene Languages Conference, Ed Vajda, WWU, and Sharon Hargus (UW Linguistics) listening to one of the presenters. The map on the wall shows the distribution of the languages. (08/12) (photo by Siri G. Tuttle)

Task Force on Arctic Sovereignty students (2009) from Arctic Sweden - Stephen Printz and Emily Epsten (9/11).

Yan Cimon, l'Université Laval (left), Visiting Canadian Fulbright Chair in Innovation, visits with Kevin Cook, Senior Political, Academic and Economic Officer, Consulate General of Canada, Seattle. (9/12)



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