Podcast, Arts & Culture

Episode 122: Theory of Ice — with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

May 26, 2021
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Below the Radar invites Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson into conversation about her latest album, Theory Of Ice, as a thinking through of water as a connector. She talks with host Am Johal about covering Willie Dunn’s “I Pity the Country,” and how her work aligns with, and is inspired by, a long tradition of Indigenous musicians and activists.

Leanne speaks to her artistic and academic work as being underpinned by a deep love of the land, and the land as a site of knowledge production. She shares some of her experiences working with the Dechinta Centre for Research & Learning on land-based education in Denendeh. We also learn about some of Leanne’s exciting collaborative works, from artistic collaborations with filmmakers and visual artists to Leanne’s work with Robyn Maynard on Rehearsals for Living, a book forthcoming from Knopf Canada in 2022.

About Our Guest


Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg musician, writer and academic, who has been widely recognized as one of the most compelling Indigenous voices of her generation. Her work breaks open the boundaries between story and song—bringing audiences into a rich and layered world of sound, light, and sovereign creativity.

Leanne has performed in venues and festivals across Canada with her sister singer songwriter Ansley Simpson and guitarist Nick Ferrio. Leanne’s second album, f(l)light, was released in 2016 and is a haunting collection of story-songs that effortlessly interweave Simpson’s complex poetics and multi-layered stories of the land, spirit, and body with lush acoustic and electronic arrangements. Her EP Noopiming Sessions combines readings from her novel Noopiming with soundscapes composed and performed by Ansley Simpson and James Bunton with a gorgeous video by Sammy Chien and the Chimerik Collective. It was produced during the on-going social isolation of COVID-19 and was released on Gizhiiwe Music in the Fall of 2020. 

Leanne is the author of seven books, including This Accident of Being Lost, which won the MacEwan University Book of the Year; was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Trillium Book Award; was long listed for CBC Canada Reads; and was named a best book of the year by the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and Quill & Quire. Her new novel Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies was released by the House of Anansi Press in the fall of 2020 and in the US by the University of Minnesota Press in 2021 and was named one of the Globe and Mail’s best books of the year and was short listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction. A Short History of the Blockade was released by the University of Alberta Press in early 2021. Her new project with Robyn Maynard, Rehearsals for Living will be released in 2022 by Knopf Canada.

Cite This Episode

Chicago Style

Johal, Am. “Theory of Ice — with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.” Below the Radar, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Podcast audio, May 26, 2021.


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