Simon Fraser University

Symposium bares truth about First Nations female form

Dana Claxton, Ruth Wynn Woodward chair, 778.782.2188;
Julie Ovenell-Carter, PAMR, 778.782.3210;

April 8, 2010
“Ask the question: ‘What do people first think of when they think of an Indian woman?’ and the answer will either be racist, sexist, stereotypical or mythic,” says Dana Claxton, the first aboriginal woman to hold the Ruth Wynn Woodward chair in the department of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies at Simon Fraser University.

Claxton, a Lakota Sioux originally from Saskatchewan, is the organizer of Unpacking the Indigeous Female Body, an SFU-sponsored symposium to be held April 23-24 at SFU’s Harbour Centre campus, with a performance event on April 23 at the Western Front Gallery, 303 East 8th St.

The event is the first of its kind and will appeal “to anyone interested in issues of social justice,” says Claxton, a visual artist. “It will be an open and scholarly discussion about the female indigenous body, and how it has been represented in popular culture in both historical and contemporary times.”

Among the notable presenters:

  • Keynote speaker Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie, an accomplished photographer from the University of California, Davis, will discuss concepts of aboriginal beauty;
  • Beth Aileen Lameman from SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology will explore The Good, the Bad and the Sultry: Indigenous Women in Video Games;
  • Tasha Hubbard, from the University of Calgary, will discuss the screen transformation of aboriginal women from “princesses” to “powerhouses;”
  • Lori Blondeau and Skeena Reece will respond to the film, A Man Called Horse, in a performance piece on the evening of April 23

“This is our incubator,” says Claxton, “and eventually our academic musings and ideas and discussions on this topic will make it out to the wider world to ensure respect and dignity for future generations.”

The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required as seating is limited: please e-mail with your name, date of attendance and contact information.


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