The Fluid States Route: Island Vessel and Dock #11 - Canada encounters Australia

Vessel from Japan to Canada

by Kathleen Irwin and Jesse Archibald-Barber

1 October 2015

PSi#21 Fluid States - Canada











Sept. 30, 2015



Our Regina Canada cluster, Performing Turtle Island (Organizers: Kathleen Irwin and Jesse Archibald-Barber) has just successfully finished (Sept. 16th to Sept. 19, 2015). Thanks to all participants and management, including PSi people. In particular, we would like to express our gratitude to Marin and Bree for organizing the project PSi Fluid States 2015. We are including in the posting to you an envelope of archival material from our conference:


(1) one beading project from our First Nations participants to yours (with directions on how to carry on).

(2) One USB key with short images captured by participants using their mobile phones.

(3) a recent publication entitled “The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir,” by Joseph Auguste Merasty published by University of Regina Press. This is a testament to the hardships of colonization on First Nations peoples in Canada put upon them by the Canadian government through the residential school system.

(4) items including: a t-shirt, posters, postcards, maps etc.

(5) we have also invited Mick Douglas, and Bree Hadley to a drop box delivery of images form the conference. We would like to draw your attention, as well, to conference website that now acts as an archive of the event -


The title Performing Turtle Island is based on various creation stories of the First Nations people of how the world, specifically North America, was created. Turtle Island is the land we stand on. In one version, Sky Woman fell down to the earth when it was covered with water. Various animals tried to swim to the bottom of the ocean to bring back dirt to create land. Muskrat succeeded in gathering dirt, which was placed on the back of a turtle, which grew into the land known today as North America


The event Performing Turtle Island brings together established and emerging scholars and artists in the form of a national symposium on how Indigenous theatre and performance are connected to Indigenous identity and community health. As Canada approaches its 150th birthday (2017), the nation prepares to celebrate its place as a home to people from all over the world.  At the same time, we ask: where does Indigenous identity and community fit in to the construction of the country’s identity?  Indeed, what do we mean by Indigenous identity, and, given the proliferation of newcomers, what do we mean by Canadian identity?  In the face of growing international mobility and a radically changing Canadian demographic, it is important to take another look at how identity is constructed on Turtle Island within the ideational borders that designate Canada.


While we are concerned with traditional performance, we aim our focus more on contemporary forms that express Indigenous identities across diverse cultural and social contexts.  In this way, we hope to engage Indigenous theatre and performing arts through a multidisciplinary perspective that helps promote Indigenous cultures as valuable sources of knowledge and identity inclusiveness.


Performing Turtle Island is simultaneously local and global.  Based in Regina, or oskana kâ-asastêki - Where the Bones are Gathered, the Performing Turtle Island Gathering serves as the primary Canadian node of Performance Studies International’s Globally Dispersed Conference 2015: Fluid States: Performances of unKnowing. This enables our Gathering to interact live and online with multiple performance, symposium, conference, and festival programs across Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, and the Pacific.  In this way, Performing Turtle Island is a multi-platformed event that is simultaneously actual and virtual, local and globally disseminated, interactive and docked on a website.


We wish you a wonderful cluster event in Melbourne. I am sure it will be a huge success.




Kathleen Irwin (


Jesse Archibald-Barber (

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