I'm Going Back to School
"YOU COULDN'T PAY ME TO GO BACK TO SCHOOOOOOOOL EVERRRRRRR!!!!!"
-Me, in 2008 as I sauntered my way outta my post-secondary institution.
I was saying my forever goodbyes because I had been in formalized education for 20 years straight and I was done.
I grew up in Langley where there was this program at the local civc centre called "Hey I'm 2!" which is a hilarious name for a program and where I got my start in academia. After completing a year of intense studies, in who the hell knows what - we were two! I then enrolled in Sunshine preschool and was in kindergarten at the ripe old age of 4. After high school I went to UBC to do my BFA in Acting - a program that I loved and met teachers who have profoundly impacted my storytelling practice, but I left with that ridiculously obnoxious statement because I was just done with formal education. Of course those were my final fucking words because eating them 11 years later would make it all the more humbling and hilarious.
So as I eat some crow, I'm happy to share that I've officially accepted the University of Victoria's offer to enter into their 2019 Fall intake in the Masters of Creative Writing program.
For the next 2 years I will be splitting my time on the traditional lands of the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ people, as well as the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and Sto:lo and I'm very honoured.
I'm extremely grateful to have 2 years of dedicated writing time in such a supportive environment. I have many projects that I will complete the writing portion of while I'm there. I will also be using my time to keep innovating the Indigenous creation method and be joyously drenched in research, learning and teachings.
The plan is to have Break Horizons be my thesis project and knowing that UVIC has the only Indigenous Law Program in Canada was a big draw for me because of Break's intersections with Indigenous jurisprudence. I'm also happy to announce that my next commission is with Green Thumb Theatre and I will be using my time at UVIC to complete my first theatre for young audience artistic ceremony.
There are a couple other writing projects that I will be working on that I won't share with you quite yet because I need blog content for later. Ha!
The Creative Writing Department at UVIC is quite remarkable and I'm very excited to be coming into relations with them. Especially with the news of them hiring 2 new Indigenous teachers, associate professor Gregory Scofield and new assistant professor Danielle Geller.
I do have to say limelet to a number of people who've helped make this possible. Stephen Heatley the Head of the Department of Theatre and Film at UBC for writing me one of my letters of assessment and to Dr. Lindsay Lachance, Artistic Associate of the National Arts Centre, Indigenous Theatre Section for writing my second letter. Honestly a big deep sechanalyagh to you both. To the entire UVIC Creative Writing Department for getting behind my application, I'm excited to share space with all of you.
And finally to the instigator...
About 3 years ago I wanted to deeply investigate how to achieve and churn out theatrical creative practice at a high level, so I cold called this person and he agreed to meet me at that Creme de la Crumb place on Clark drive and we've been meeting for coffee and chats ever since. He's read drafts of Kamloopa, provided ongoing mentorship and truly planted the seed of returning to school, he nourished this idea and absolutely made this academic opportunity come to fruition and that person is Governor General award winning playwright, friend and now Graduate Supervisor, Kevin Kerr.
Kevin is an Indigenous accomplice whose breaking down systemic and institutional barriers to create opportunities to achieve equity for Indigenous peoples and I'm so grateful. Kevin has done a lot of work to secure tangible support for me to create. He prioritizes his time to sit down with me, even during the tech of one of his world premiers, he'll buy me a coffee and makes offers of what he can do for me. He embodies relational knowledge sharing and I always look forward to our chats because of his deep humility and thoughtfulness to meaningfully want to engage with my practice and I'm stoked to hear about his innovations and work in his practice. Kevin is so generous with his knowledge and experiences.
I also want to share that I too am breaking down barriers for Kevin. A few months ago I found out that he had never played Buck Hunter - that bar game with the orange rifles where you shoot digital animals that I'm obsessed with and I just didn't think that was right. So I broached the topic in a safe and respectful way, I went to his event to make sure access wouldn't be an issue and then when it came down to playing, I made sure that I had a toonie to pay for it. This is what people need to really remember, these Settler Indigenous relationships need to be founded on thoughtful cyclical knowledge sharing pedagogies. He helped me get into school and I tried to help him not suck at level 1 of Buck Hunter - I think he was more successful in his offer but that's beside the point - it's give and take people.
Limelet Kevin and let's dooooooo dis!
My journey, particularly in the last 10 months has been quite unexpected, arduous at times but ultimately transformational. I'm finding a peace in knowing I get to spend some time on the Salish Sea, following trade routes and interrelation journeys of my Syilx Ancestors. Peace, that I will have the space and time to centre my creative practice and give the community more Indigenous work to engage with.
So, I'm going to start "shutting down the LM" even more than I already have. I will be racketing down my community work, consultation work and saying no to a lot more. I hope the community can help support this decision because these boundaries protect the urgent work that I need to do for my people. Break and this TYA ceremony, as well as the other projects I have are the love centered joy, that is healing for my people and I need to really put all of my attention there. I think this is an important teaching for us all to let our engagements with one another be nourishing, thoughtful and with the intent to help BIPOC and other oppressed artists accomplish their desired outcomes and not just your own.
The last announcement in all these evolutions and personally one of the most exciting for me, is that I'm officially steering my wardrobe into a new thematic direction and the new aesthetic to represent the spacial cosmic nature of Break and the other projects I'm working on is now, Retro Indigenous Futurism! What that means exactly we are not sure, but I think the fur's came from the grizzly nature of Kamloopa and now we are launching into the cosmos. The other day I went out looking like an Apollo era astronaut and I think we're all better for it.
I'm pumped to be headed back to skool and don't even worry, ya'll won't even know I'm living in both places cause Indigenous people know how to time and space travel. The last time I moved to the Island for a year, my friend Richard literally didn't even notice I was gone. My new office is in the dining hall of BC Ferry buffet and the Salish Sea is ma new dance floooor!
Jettin out to get a new jansport and pencil box homies! Peace.
Also, this one goes out to my High School English teacher who approached me as I dejectedly sat at my desk, looking at yet another assignment covered in red with a low grade and said, "Kim, you're just not a good writer."
With pride, gratitude and deep humility,