Introducing Rosemary Georgeson, CERi Researcher-in-Residence

October 04, 2022

By Steven Ta


CERi is excited to welcome renowned, Indigenous artist, writer, and storyteller from the Sahtu Dene & Coast Salish peoples Rosemary Georgeson to the Researchers-in-Residence Program. 

Georgeson’s journey into community-engaged research began on an island off the coast of British Columbia called Galiano. Growing up around Galiano’s commercial fishing industry, Georgeson developed a deep connection to both fish and water, which she displays in much of her work.

Having been in the arts for over 20 years, Georgeson has been recognized for her work several times – earning the Vancouver Mayor’s award for emerging artist in 2009 and in 2014 as the Vancouver Public Library’s Storyteller in Residence. Drawing on her lifelong experiences growing up on Galiano Island, Georgeson’s work explores Indigenous history on the island and the impact of generations of colonization. Her latest exhibition, The Water We Call Home, (Co-Curated by Rosemary Georgeson, Kate Hennessy and Jessica Hallenbeck) explores Georgeson’s journey to finding what happened to her grandmothers Sophie and Tlahaholt and evolves into a story encompassing more than just herself. Gathering with five other Indigenous women on Galiano, Georgeson’s missing family history began to be re-presenced through the finding of newly discovered relatives and their connections to fish and water.

“We formed a circle of women that come together to share our stories and teachings with our youth so that they know who they're related to. So, they don't go through life blindly wondering how they're connected to this land, to this water, and that they have a very big place here.” Georgeson said.

One of the key parts of The Water We Call Home was the collaboration with Jessica Hallenbeck, who is currently an SSHRC Postdoctoral Scholar at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at SFU and the co-founder of Lantern Films, where she works to support the creation of critically important and visually compelling documentary films. Georgeson and Hallenbeck began collaborating in 2012, making their collaboration a decade-long endeavor.

“She was very supportive. And, you know, a lot of the work that we've done together has been, it's been hard. It's been an emotional roller coaster. And Jess was always there. Helped me through a lot of the tough stuff that there was to deal with to understand the things that happened that broke my family and separated us all,” said Georgeson.

“Working with Jess, I learned how to look at a bigger picture than just a personal story. I'm looking at things like timelines, commissions, laws, and different things that were in place that were put in place to do exactly what they did – to separate my family, and to break us. And I wouldn't have looked at those personally on my own, I would have stayed at a personal level. And to get to the level of research that we did, I needed to see all of it.”

Conducting research well and with intention is something that is important to Georgeson. In previous experiences, she felt a disconnect between researchers and the Indigenous community where community members felt that they were treated as nothing more than research subjects. To her doing research that is in conversation and led by community is fundamental.

There aren’t many parts of any of the work that I do that isn't involved in the community,” said Georgeson. “The community-engaged research leading up to the work launched on Galliano involved all our communities around the Salish Sea. I'm looking at the places where the families went. I don't think there's any part of my world that isn't involved in community-engaged aspects in some way.

For Georgeson one of the most satisfying parts of being a storyteller is being able to share stories with people who have never heard them. “In 2004, I did a show with Marie Clements called Women in Fish. What I found in that piece was that what we were sharing was an untold story. We always knew as First Nations women that we did that work. But when we did Women in Fish, it was, I was, kind of blown away by the fact that nobody else knew it. And how?” She noted that to the outside world, it was an untold story. “In any of the work that I get to do, I love the stories that haven't been told, the stories that nobody even recognizes as a story.” Georgeson said.

Georgeson is now working on a new art installation that shares and celebrates the reconnection of family and the coming together of Coast Salish women, along with two new books further exploring the work she has done with Hallenbeck.

To learn more about Rosemary Georgeson’s work, visit:

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