Powerful stories of research impact

Human and Social Development, Fine Arts

- University of Victoria

Gilpin. Photo: Janelle Paciencia

Two UVic researchers named top Storytellers by SSHRC

Two University of Victoria researchers are named top 25 “Storytellers” in an annual competition announced May 5 by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. SSHRC’s 2020 Storytellers competition celebrates the best in research communication by post-secondary students.

The challenge strives to show Canadians—in up to three minutes or 300 words—how social sciences and humanities research is affecting our lives, our world and our future for the better.

Community collaboration supports Hul’q’umi’num’ language and culture

Lara Aysal, UVic Department of Theatre

UVic professor Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta and her students are collaborating with the Hul’q’umi’num’ Language and Culture Society to use tools from theatre to reclaim an endangered Coast Salish language. For the last four summers, the group has met to improvise theatre games to improve fluency and to develop plays performed for the Hul’q’umi’num’ community.

“Working together on plays reinforces traditional values, such as building consensus, overcoming fear, and sharing knowledge with others," says interdisciplinary PhD student, actor and voice coach, Thomas Jones, Kweyulutstun (theatre and linguistics). “Performing the stories brings out messages and meanings that are not understood when reading from a page.”

Last summer’s performance, “hw’i’ttsus lhqel’ts’—Jealous Moon”, was directed by Applied Theatre PhD candidate Lara Aysal. A video documenting the project, Indigenous Performance and Language Revitalization, produced by One Island Media, was entered into the SSHRC Storytellers competition.

“Stories have been the guiding principle to take language learning out of the conventional classroom environment and into a theatrical space where it can be practiced in an everyday life setting,” says Aysal, who has worked on applied theatre projects around the world.

Hul'q'umi'num' heroes: Reclaiming language through theatre

Voices of Indigenous women form narrative of self-determination

Erynne Gilpin, UVic Indigenous Governance program

Erynne Gilpin is a mixed Cree-Metis, Filipina and Celtic educator, researcher. She is also a PhD graduate of UVic’s Indigenous Governance program. Her winning submission was based on her doctoral thesis—Land as Body: Indigenous Womxn’s Leadership, Land-based Wellness and Embodied Governance.

Guiding conversations with 17 Indigenous women, 21-to-60 years of age from 10 different nations, Gilpin explored definitions of leadership in their everyday lives, their wellness, community well-being and their relationships with land and water.

Gilpin explains, “my research defines wellness within a Cree-Metis framework. These concepts inform what I define as an embodied governance framework of self-determination.” Determined to interrupt the Indigenous story as one of constant crisis, Gilpin proposes new thinking, “which begins with the body as a site of regeneration, resurgence and renewal.”

Gilpin is an Indigenous Learning Specialist with UVic’s learning and teaching unit, and is an instructor with the Indigenous Studies program.

Land as Body: Indigenous Womxn’s Leadership, Land-based Wellness and Embodied Governance.

The 2020 Storytellers finalists receive a cash prize of $3,000 and will be invited to participate in the Storytellers Showcase at the 2021 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, which will take place in 2021 at the University of Alberta. The final five winners are chosen at that event and will be featured at SSHRC’s Impact Awards ceremony, to be held in fall 2021. 

See SSHRC’s Storytellers website for more details.


In this story

Keywords: award, Indigenous, languages and linguistics, theatre, graduate research

People: Lara Aysal, Erynne Gilpin

Publication: The Ring

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