Indigenous Curator in Residence at Simon Fraser University

November 05, 2019

SFU Gallery, AQ3004
8888 University Drive
Burnaby B.C. Canada V5A 1S6

Call for an Indigenous Curator in Residence at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby

About the Opportunity

SFU is seeking a part-time, contract Indigenous curator in residence to consider the relationship between authority structures and artistic practices by supporting art works in public that speak back to power. This is a contract for two years, starting in 2020. The curator will be responsible for a long-term public reinstallation of artworks on SFU’s Burnaby campus. Over a period of two years, the curator will undertake research on the specific institutional context with special consideration of the campus’ North AQ hallway within a context of reconciliation.

This hallway is currently hung with 32 works from the SFU Art Collection, some of which present a colonial view on the history of British Columbia. The curator will work to present a reinstallation of art works in this large space, considering works from the SFU Art Collection and the possibility of commissions by contemporary artists that may enter the Collection.

The curator will be responsible for all aspects of this curatorial project including managing the existing budget, coordination, liaising with the university and external communities. The curator will provide vision for the research and installation and oversee the work, supported by the ARC Art Cluster and SFU Galleries (who oversee the SFU Art Collection) and their staff.

This work will take place within the context of SFU’s 2017 Aboriginal Reconciliation Council Report which lists the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. The most relevant action is #4: the priority to remove colonial art that is degrading to the Indigenous population, specifically noting a work by Charles Comfort. This priority is being met: On June 17, 2019, Comfort’s 19-metre long mural, British Columbia Pageant (1951) was removed from SFU’s Academic Quadrangle (AQ) where it had been installed since 2004.

The Comfort mural has been criticized for its representation of Canadian history in its portrayal of European settlers and industrialists colonizing the lands now called British Columbia. It presents Indigenous people as decorative, using symbols drawn from First Nations’ cultures to frame the contents of the mural, and it excludes non-European settler populations and contributions made by women to the development of the province.

There were immediate protests across the university in response to the mural’s acquisition and installation, which have continued ever since. The Cedar Table Series Anti-colonial Art Contest (November 2004 – February 2005), co-organized by the Simon Fraser Student Society and the First Nations Student Society, was an effort to bring forward representations of what is missing in British Columbia Pageant by reflecting the settler colonial foundations of the province.

Over the last decade and half, additional works from the SFU Art Collection that approach questions of Indigenous identity and politics by artists Marianne Nicolson, Bill Reid, and Edgar Heap of Birds have been installed in proximity to the mural as critical and representational interventions. The SFU Art Collection includes over 5,500 works of art of regional and national import that span the last century.


The curator will report to the Aboriginal Reconciliation Committee Art Cluster, which was established to address art related Calls for Action arising from the Walk This Path With Us report, and which made the recommendation to remove the mural. The following SFU staff and faculty are the Aboriginal Reconciliation Committee Art Cluster:

Dorothy Christian, Associate Director, Indigenous Initiatives
Karrmen Crey, Assistant Professor, School of Communication
Sophie McCall, Associate Professor, English
Bryan Myles, Associate Director, Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Studies, and INS graduate student
Melanie O’Brian, Director, SFU Galleries
Deanna Reder, Chair and Associate Professor, First Nations Studies
June Scudeler, Assistant Professor, First Nations Studies
Elizabeth Starr, Campus Planning, Development Planner
cheyanne turions, Curator, SFU Galleries

About SFU
Established in 1965, SFU is Canada's leading comprehensive university with campuses in Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey. Located on the unceded territories of skwxwú7mesh, səl̓ílwətaɬ, xʷməθkʷəym and kʷikʷəƛ"əm Nations, the university and its art activities through SFU Galleries acknowledge settler colonialism as an ongoing structure and are committed to support the capacity of art to unsettle these conditions. Named for an early explorer, SFU was
designed by architects Arthur Erickson and Geoffrey Massey to foster interdisciplinary contact between students and researchers. It has over 30,000 students, and 6,500 faculty and staff.

DEADLINE: Dec 16, 2019


We invite you to apply if you have a university degree in visual arts, art history or a related discipline, and / or equivalent experience, combined with 2 – 5 years of curatorial experience working in a museum, art gallery or cultural centre setting.

  • A strong interest, proven experience and relationships with Indigenous communities, cultures and art is a necessity
  • The ability to self-direct, problem solve and set priorities in a complex and multi-stakeholder environment
  • A history of solid fiscal management
  • Proven curatorial track record of research, interpretation and exhibition creation, fabrication and installation
  • Ability to work in a collaborative community context


  • A letter of interest (maximum 2 pages)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • A case-study that outlines a curatorial project that has relevance to this opportunity (maximum 2 pages)

Send applications by email to:
Hiring: Indigenous Curator in Residence at Simon Fraser University
SFU Gallery, AQ3004
8888 University Drive, Burnaby BC V5A 1S6

$40,000 annually for 2 years with a project budget that will be approved with a detailed plan from the curator (3-4 months into the job).

START DATE: Early 2020