PhDaaayum I'm Excited!
Wáy Slaxts -
It has been a while! I took some time away from the blog because I have been incredibly full with writing in other parts of my life. I originally started this blog to have artistic sovereignty over my work and its dissemination and to build my capacity as a writer. Over the last 3-4 years of having this platform I've been fortunate enough to have many companies and people invest in my storytelling and I'm so grateful for that. There is much to share so I will get riiiight into it!
I've just returned from a 4.5 week "spiritual quest" as my new friend Little Leaf called it. I met this knowledge keeper at Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump and he profoundly impacted me and emphasized the need to rest and recuperate. The past year and a half has been a lot and my family said I needed some relaaaaxing time before I start my PhD. So I heard the land calling, hit the road and travelled to every one of my Nations and more! It was beyond what I could have imagined.
The land and I had some nourishing conversations, the Nations deepend my understandings of what being an Interior Salish Plateau storyteller means and my family hugged and supported me in some much needed healing from a colonial sector that often deteriorates us. 7 000 km, some rock and roll playlists paired with time to feel deeply, walk slowly and love greatly and I feel a new. Was quite a cultural revolution for my denitsin (spirit).
But before I left we filmed Break Horizons: A Concert Documentary and the world premiere will be Oct 1st as a part of the Transform Festival at The Cultch and with Urban Ink. This film captures the behind the scenes footage, interviews with the creative team and performances of 9 original songs from the theatrical artistic ceremony. The film is anchored in the badass performances by the femmes and The Healing Company and these songs are just spirit wrenching.
Filmed over 6 days in the York Theatre, in a window between the 3rd and 4th wave of a global pandemic and during the tragic unearthing of thousands of children who were victims of the residential school genocides, The Healing Company communed to tell a story of Indigenous Justice. We laughed, cried and worked incredibly hard with respect for all our community members who have been obstructed from living full lives, with dignity, peace and justice.
When the process is the art, this emblemizing of process - done so by an extraordinary inter-National team is not to be missed. It is a powerful demonstration of storytelling as a legal order and Indigenous love. And of course it’s a one night stand! So on Oct 1st @7:30 pm PST get ready to rock out with the Universe! You can find out more about the piece here. There are a limited number of in person watch party tickets (it's going to be a joyous celebration and fashun moment) or you can watch from anywhere in the world with your digital tickets that you can purchase here.
And speaking of Indigenous legal orders - I start my PhD in Law at Uvic in one week and I'm really pumped! A lot of people have been asking me "wtf Kim law?" Ha! And I wanted to share a bit about how my storytelling has been intersecting with Indigenous jurisprudence (theory, nature and epistemic study of law) and how I will be spending my time in the program. I will share parts of my proposal to the PhD program which is was a part of my application. I wrote:
"...my Tsilhqot'in family worked on the supreme court title case and my Syilx Ancestors were ambassadors and activists liaising with the crown and meeting with King Henry to fight for Interior Salish sovereignty. I presence this information out of respect to my Ancestors and to contextualize my desire to work in continuance of their legal servitude...the constitutions of my stories are inextricably bonded to my Salish Plateau legal orders. I see myself as an artistic legal counselor because my cultural work is about liberating my peoples from the mental, spiritual and physical prisons constructed by the imperial state....
...In 2016, I started working on the Fire Creation Methodology which is a process that decentralizes imperial hierarchies in Eurocentric creative practice and focuses on the dadaben (medicine/healing) nature of storytelling. In 2019, I started working on the Salish Plateau Earthing method which roots cultural creation in the laws and orders of nature...
...At the heart of my Salish Plateau artistic ordinance is my cultural edict which is to provide every community member the opportunity to live peacefully. A part of my embodied cultural relations is knowing that I am responsible for contributing to our cultural jurisprudential ethnospheric legacy to which future generations will inherit...my service to act out my artistic legal order is imperative to Salish Plateau inter-Nation resolution and evolution. This ontology is braided together ceremonially, spiritually and jurisprudentially...
...My intent to study in the faculty of Law with a cultural creative perspective is to investigate art as a practice that is a fundamental component to Indigenous legal orders with the understanding that culture is essential to asserting sovereignty...The crown built strategies of eradication and genocide on the certitude that the obstruction of Indigenous peoples from land stewardship and cultural authority will cut them off from the requirements of gwesneh - the Tsilhqot’in law of living an alive, sustained and a whole life...
...So by re-claiming, evolving and asserting our artistic responsibilities and creating a contemporary cultural legal order means, I believe, we will have the joyous sustenance to refuse imperialism...We do this through embodying elements of our Nation specific culture - culture being language, art, science, eroticism, politics, philosophies and spirituality and we will create a way of knowing and living that allows all of us access to our Universal liberties...
...In An Inside Job: Engaging with Indigenous Legal Traditions Through Stories, Val Napoleon and Hadley Friedland write “If Indigenous people cannot use Indigenous law, that is, if people cannot reason with it and apply it to the messy and mundane, then it will continue to be talked about only in an idealized way or as a rhetorical critique of Canadian law.” (Napolean, Friedland, 2016, pg. 741.) I would like to research the intersections of cultural displacement, art as a legal order and the state tactics used to attack and primordialize Indigenous peoples to lock us up in a cultural stasis and thus obstruct our ability to assert sovereignty in any form.
I would like to explore the understanding that our legal orders are a daily practice of culture to which we can engage with wherever we are and not a distanced land-centric and often thought to be untouchable abstraction. That we must move beyond the “on and off reserve”, “urban or rural '' binary and explore the notion that we carry our laws within our denitsin...
...In creating artistic ceremonies on the stage and in digital mediums I honour the visceral act of storytelling as a mode of cultural guardianship and legal prosecution via the stories impact on the body and spirit. In Strange Encounters: Exploring Law and Film in the Affective Register, Ruth Buchanan and Rebecca Johnson write about their interest in paying “attention to filmic technique (and to the language used to describe it) can help us make visible the ways in which film participates in the production and maintenance of structures of feeling (in both the story world, and in the world outside the theater doors) through the weaving together of Words, Images, and Sounds.” (Buchanan, Johnson, 2009, p. 7).
I’m interested in studying the structure of affect by correlating it to the sensorial weaving technique used by my Interior Salish Nations to preserve and protect our artistic legal orders. I think about how long lodge ceremonies can use drummers to reverberate into the bodies of the dancers and the witnesses and I believe this is done to effectively regulate our spiritual constitutions and calibrate our cultural embodied lawfulness...
...In An Inside Job: Engaging with Indigenous Legal Traditions Through Stories, Val Napoleon and Hadley Friedland offer a 3 strand framework that acts “as a pedagogical bridge “into'' respectful engagement with Indigenous laws and legal thought, within and across Indigenous, academic, and professional communities.” (Napoleon, Friedland, 2016, pg. 727.) I would like to spend time researching and creating a helical structured justice method that could be used by incarcerated Indigenous peoples who can input their Nation specific cultures and protocols and wrap strands of jurisprudence around themselves to spark, ignite and protect their Indigenous liberties. I think within this helical structure we can reflect degrees of Nation specific freedoms on the gradient articulations of gwesneh (aliveness)...
...My stories exist in multi-verses because the binary, 2 dimensional, good vs bad, illicit vs licit paradigm unfairly favours the crown. So along these notions of spherical methods and thinking which I believe are necessary to exist, shift and transform, I’ve approached my proposed dissertation on 3 dimensional planes. It’s ideologically encased in a sort of planetary sphere because ultimately we are bound to the laws of the Universe and so I think we will have to create a cosmic constitution that honours our intersections with all our celestial relations.
Title: The Laws of the Universe: An Interior Salish Plateau’s Artistic Legal Order to Ignite Gwesneh
Research question: How do we get Indigenous peoples who’ve been displaced and dispossessed from land and culture ignited to engage with their own cultural legal orders?"
So there she is! I tell my family, distilled, I'm studying storytelling as an assertion of our artistic legal orders. Demonstrating that Interior Salish Plateau culture is law and theorizing on how humanity is ultimately bound to Universal law.
I want to take a moment to give a heartfelt thank you to Marcus Youseff and Kevin Kerr for writing me deeply moving letters of support. You two are beyond! And as many people who start a Masters or PhD know - the proposal is alive, breathing and ever growing and evolving. I'm so looking forward to new illuminations and articulations that will be influenced by the brilliant minds and work of the Faculty of Law members, fellow students and communities and knowledge keepers.
I feel incredibly grateful to be gifted this opportunity to be of service to fellow cultural counsellors and artistic guardians and will do my very best to share the knowledge I have the fortune of engaging with on this blog and in channels that reach the people who deserve access the most: our peoples.
With deep love and keep safe,
p.s I also had the opportunity to write a piece for CBC books "Moving Forward" series which you can read here. Special shout out to Lucy Mann for leading this and being so amazing! This piece was a joy to write and I just love the graphic!
p.p.s Here are some photos from filming Break Horizons: A Concert Documentary and remember to get your digital tickets here and fast!
Leiah Luz Engel
Adrian Glynn and
The Healing Company:
Kim Senklip Harvey Creator
Cam Anderson DOP and Editor
Emily Soussana Co-Video & LX
Andrew Scriver Co-Video & LX
Mishelle CuttlerMusic/Sound Co-Leader
Adrian GlynnMusic/Sound Co-Leader
Sabrina Pollitt (Scarlet Delirium) Costume
Kayla Dunbar Movement direction
Daniela Masellis Scenic designer
Heather Barr Associate Producer and SM