Speakers & Topics

Our Thursday Activity Descriptions, Speaker Bios & Topics:

  7:30 AM - 8:30 AM 

  • Michael Hopkins - Sunrise Ceremony (Harris Park)
    • Bio: Michael Hopkins Sr is of Bear Clan and works at the N'Amerind Friendship Centre as the Healing & Wellness Coordinator. He has 8 children, 3 adopted children and 26 grandchildren. He has studied at the University of Minnesota as well as Loyalist College and St. Clair College. He has many years experience in working in counselling, healing, trauma and addictions services.

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM 

  • Tracey Whiteye - Water Ceremony (Harris Park)
    • Bio: Tracey Whiteye (Polar Bear Woman Who Is Looking Ahead From The Water) is Lennapeew/Anishinaabe Kwe. Her Nation is The Naahi of the Thames. She has travelled with and assisted many traditional healers in different areas of Turtle Island and has worked for over 10 years with a team of traditional helpers at a family healing lodge. She has also worked in jails and institutions assisting in cultural programming and healing circles.


10:00 AM - 10:30 AM 

  • Keynote Speaker: Chief Myeengun, Chippewas of The Thames First Nation

10:30 AM - 11:20 AM

  • Dan Ebbs - Historical Walking Tour along the Thames (Harris Park)
    • Bio: Dan Ebbs is an actor, playwright, director, puppeteer, mime, clown, singer, and teacher. He is currently the founder and writer of Crazy Beautiful People, a Home County Music and Art Festival history project. Dan has also worked with a number of community groups, including facilitating a London Fringe show by Ugandan refugee youth at the Cross Cultural Learner Centre, and he is currently a London Artist in Residence and Creative Aging drama teacher.
  • Scott Gillingwater - Mounting Pressures and Recovery Efforts: Can We Save Ontario's Declining Reptiles? (Centre at the Forks, Museum London)
    • Presentation Description: The talk will provide an introduction to Ontario's reptiles and their threats, as well as ongoing efforts to recover some of the province's most vulnerable species.
    • Bio: Scott Gillingwater is the Species at Risk Biologist for the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and a freelance herpetologist carrying out work both in Canada and internationally. Since 1994, Scott has conducted extensive, long-term studies on Spiny Softshell Turtle, Queensnake, Blanding's Turtle, Spotted Turtle, and a number of other reptile and amphibian species in Ontario. Scott has authored or co-authored numerous books, reports and articles related to reptile and amphibian research and conservation. He is an assistant editor for the journal Herpetological Conservation and Biology and serves, or has served, as a member of the Ontario Turtle Conservation Group, various reptile and ecosystem-based Recovery Teams, the COSEWIC Amphibians and Reptiles Specialist Sub-committee, the Committee On the Status of Species At Risk in Ontario (COSSARO), and the IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group; he is the former Chair of the Queensnake and Spiny Softshell Turtle Recovery Teams, and is Past-president and current Director of Conservation for the Canadian Herpetelogical Society.
  • Panel on Treaty History and Governance - Speakers TBD (Theatre, Museum London)

11:30 AM - 12:20 PM 

  • Dan Ebbs - Historical Walking Tour along the Thames (Harris Park)
  • Dr. Patricia Corcoran & Kelly Jazvac - An Interdisciplinary Approach to Plastics Pollution in the Great Lakes and its Tributaries -- a science/arts perspective from the Synthetic Collective (Centre at the Forks, Museum London)
    • Presentation Description: Bridging the divides between different disciplines is the best approach needed to tackle the wicked problem of plastics pollution. The Synthetic Collective involves scientists who gather data, working with artists who produce knowledge outcomes understandable to academic audiences, policy makers, art supporters, and the public. The data is obtained through careful sampling and processing of shoreline and benthic sediment in oceans, lakes and rivers. The information is used to inform communities about the extent of plastics.
    • Bio: Patricia Corcoran is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Western Ontario. Her research focuses on natural and anthropogenic sedimentary deposits. One significant element of her research concerns the distribution, accumulation, and degradation of plastic debris in lake, river and ocean sediments. Her work is supported by government and university grants, and her research has been featured in numerous media outlets, including National Geographic, Science Magazine, Science et Vie, The New York Times and CBC's The National.

      Kirsty Robertson is an Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Museum Studies at Western University, Canada (London, Ontario). My pedagogy involves curating large-scale speculative and experimental exhibitions with students, work that I have extended into independent curatorial projects such as Secret Stash(McIntosh Gallery, 2013). In my academic work, I have published widely on activism, visual culture, and museums, and I am currently finishing my book Tear Gas Epiphanies: Protest, Museums, Culture. My work on critical museum studies has expanded into a new project focused on small and micro- collections that work against traditional museum formats. Since 2008, I have additionally researched textiles, the textile industry, and fibre-based arts. I have written on textiles and technology, on craftivism, and am currently looking closely at petrotextiles (that is, textiles that are made from oil and that disintegrate into plastic microfilaments). As a part of this research, I am a founding member of the Synthetic Collective, a group of artists, scientists and cultural researchers working on plastics pollution in the Great Lakes Region. My co-edited volumes Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture, and Activism in Canada, and Negotiations in a Vacant Lot were released in 2011 and 2014, and my tri-authored volume Putting IP in its Place: Rights Discourse, Creativity and the Everyday was published in 2013.

  • Tom Porter - Water Teachings (Theatre)

1:30 PM - 2:20 PM 

  • Tara Tchir - Thames River (Deshkan Ziibi) Shared Waters Approach to Water Quantity and Quality: A Component of the Thames River Clear Water Revival (TRCWR) (Theatre, Museum London)
    • Presentation Description: The TRCWR is a broad watershed approach that is committed to improving the health of the Thames River, which will ultimately benefit Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.  The TRCWR brings together First Nations, all levels of government, Conservation Authorities and local communities to achieve this common goal. The first component of the TRCWR is the Shared Waters Approach, which developed goals and recommendations to address water quality and quantity issues that affect stream health in the Thames River including phosphorus reduction, improving local stream health, understanding the impact of climate change on water quantity, assessing urban and rural BMPs and incorporating Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).
    • Bio: Tara graduated from the University of Calgary in 1994 with a BSC. in Terrestrial Ecology and in 2000 with a MSC. in Landscape and Forest Ecology.  She has been working for the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority as an ecologist since 2001 and took on additional responsibilities in 2012 as a project manager for the Thames River Watershed Strategy (called the Thames River Clearwater Revival).  In her spare time, Tara teaches group weight lifting and boxing classes at the YMCA, enjoys long-distance cycling and triathlon events and loves spending time camping and hiking with her family and dog.
  • Group Discussion: River Currents: Discussion on Our Water-Ways (Centre at the Forks, Museum London)
    • Discussion Description: The Exploration Dive will be held to learn more about our community's (in particular youth) perspectives on creating a healthy river .  The Exploration will use a 'World Cafe' format; a 'special' environment modeled after a cafe is set up with round tables hosting 4-6 seats and at each table where specially crafted questions are discussed among participants.  A question can go through one or multiple rounds and along with discussion at the table, ideas are harvested using large sheets of paper that participants are encouraged to contribute to with images, statements, symbols etc., or whatever they need in order to express their ideas.  After a period of time with each question (a 'round'), each member of a group moves to a new table, either to discuss the same question with a different group, or to explore a new question. A table host who welcomes the next group and briefly fills new participants in on what happened the previous round is usually left at the table for each subsequent round.  A few minutes may be used between rounds to discuss with the entire group, the ideas and concepts harvested from some of the tables/groups.

2:30 PM - 3:20 PM 

  • Mark Drewe - More Passion than Sense: A Beginner's Tale of Paddling the Entire Thames River (Theatre, Museum London)
    • Presentation Description: In 2016 filmmaker Mark Drewe created an online, social media campaign dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation for the Thames River in Ontario, called Traverse the Thames. As a part of this campaign was a bold publicity stunt: he and 3 other novice paddlers would attempt to paddle the entire length of the Thames from start to finish, all as part of a documentary chronicling the experience. However, with little to no knowledge of planning multi-day paddling trips, he accidentally planned the trip during 30 year water lows, creating a documentary and journey that was unlike anything he or his companions anticipated, and creating a domino effect of decisions that progressively made things more and more difficult (and entertaining on film!) Come and join Mark as he presents part of the documentary, and shares his personal experiences of both doing the trip and creating the film and campaign!
    • Bio: Mark Drewe is a filmmaker and environmentalist living in London, Ontario. He loves to combine his passion for nature, adventure, and storytelling into films and videos. Through his work, he aspires to create a better understanding of the complex, intertwined connection between modern society and our natural world.
  • Kings Social Justice Club Workshop - The Inequality and Irreversibility of Water (Centre at the Forks, Museum Lodnon)
    • Presentation Description: When you turn on your tap, clean water should flow but this is not always the case for many people around the world. By exploring global inequality and environmental degradation we can begin to understand issues surrounding water. This workshop will be an interactive approach to understanding water sanitation issues and the effects of unequal access to clean water worldwide.
    • Bio: The Social Justice and Peace Club (SJP Club) is an official club of King’s University College’s Students’ Council. They work to actively engage King’s University College students and members of the community with respect to issues of social justice and peace.

3:30 PM - 4:20 PM

  • Dr. Fatih Sekercioglu - The Application of Two-Eyed Seeing and Reciprocity for a Healthy River and Community (Centre at the Forks)
    • Presentation Description: This presentation will explore the underlying issues that cause polluted rivers, and identify the emerging challenges to maintain a healthy river. The potential impacts of unsafe water on humans and the environment will be discussed. The recipe to create a healthy river and community will be proposed with an interactive discussion with the participants.
    • Bio: Fatih is the Environmental Health Manager with the Middlesex-London Health Unit with 14 years of public health experience. Previously, he worked as a Child and Family Health Manager, Vector-Borne Disease Coordinator, and Public Health Inspector at Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. Fatih obtained Bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and public health and safety and holds Master’s degrees in Food Safety and Quality Assurance from the University of Guelph and Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University. Fatih recently completed his doctoral studies in Geography at Western University.  Fatih is a member of the Thames-Sydenham and Region Source Protection committee. He has recently been appointed as the Ontario Board of Certification Representative for the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors.
  • Life of Leisure - Films from the River (Theatre, Museum London)

6:30 PM - 7:00 PM

  • Artistic Performance by: London Arts Council Artists

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

  • The Source Exhibition Talks - Rethinking Water Through Contemporary Art
    • Presentation Description: Join Nadine Bariteau (Toronto); Soheila Esfahani (Waterloo); Chris Myhr (Hamilton); Quinn Smallboy (London/Moose Factory); and Jennifer Willett (Windsor), in discussion with artist-curator Patrick Mahon. The artists will be presenting their respective photography, video, and installation works exploring our relationships with water to be shown as part of the exhibition, The Living River Project, opening at the Art Gallery of Windsor on Friday Oct. 19.
    • Artists: Nadine Bariteau (Toronto); Soheila Esfahani (Waterloo); Chris Myhr (Hamilton); Quinn Smallboy (London/Moose Factory); and Jennifer Willett (Windsor)

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM 

  • The Source Exhibition Talks - Panel Discussions

Our Friday Activity Descriptions, Speaker Bios & Topics:

9:00 AM - 9:50 AM

  • Keynote Speaker: Meredith Brown - Ottawa Riverkeeper (Theatre, Museum London)
    • Bio: With years of experience in protecting and restoring the Ottawa River, Meredith works to establish responsible and accountable monitoring, assessment, enforcement, and long-term planning for the river. She holds degrees in biology and environmental engineering from Queen’s University and the University of Guelph. Additionally, she holds a Masters in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University where she studied with Robert Newbury, a world-renowned river engineer and stream restoration specialist. Meredith enjoys many river activities, but she especially adores swimming down rapids on the Gatineau River with her son, Charlie.  
    • Support for this speaker was provided through a generous gift to London Public Library by the Hueston Family Foundation

10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

  • Dan Ebbs - Historical Walking Tour along the Thames (Harris Park)
  • CityGreen - River Stories (Theatre, Museum London)
    • Presentation Description: A series of short 20 minute, multimedia presentations designed to describe the many ongoing river projects in the City of London and how they all contribute to improving the Thames River water quality.
  • Deep Dive Discussion - Indigenous Perspectives (Centre at the Forks, Museum London)
    • Discussion Description: The Thames River watershed is home to the Anishinaabek, Lenaape and Oneida peoples.  In all three cultures, women have distinct relationships with water. Panelists will share insights, understandings and ideas about relationships to the river and how they should be fostered, viewed and celebrated.
    • Panelists: 
      • Amanda Doxtator, Oneida Nation of the Thames - Yutl^notha – (she sings) Amanda is turtle clan and is from the Oneida Nation of the Thames.  Amanda has been working for over 6 years with traditional healing services at the community and personal levels.  Amanda is currently the Senior Counsellor at  Wulaawsuwiikaan Healing Lodge in Munsee Ontario and has been there for over a year.  Amanda is always eager to share her teachings and facilitate the necessary steps toward establishing healing and counselling relationships with those who are ready.  
      • Wasayzee Deleary (Anishinaabe), Oneida Nation Wahsayzee Deleary is an Anishinabekwe from the Oneida and Chippewa of the Thames First Nations. She is of the Loon Clan and a mother and grandmother. Wahsayzee is a 3rd Degree Midewewin of the Three Fires Midewewin Lodge, and has been pursuing Anishinabe cultural and spiritual knowledge for over 35 years.
      • Sam Whiteye, Lenaape from Delaware First Nation - Samantha Whiteye is an emerging leader and role model from the Lunaapeew Nation. She is passionate about her culture, revitalizing the endangered language of her people and is the Youth Female Board Member for Meesingw Inc, a non-profit environmental organization based out of her own first nation reserve
    • Moderator: Leslee White-Eye, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation - Leslee White-Eye is wolf clan from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.  She is the former Chief of Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and currently is in the role as Structural Readiness Coordinator for the First Nations with Schools Collective.  She is keen to address water and land literacies in school curricula for First Nation students and seeks to develop her own understanding of her role being Anishinaabekwe as a waterkeeper culturally. 

11:00 AM - 11:50 AM

  • CityGreen - River Stories (Theatre, Museum London)
    • Presentation Description: A series of short 20 minute, multimedia presentations designed to describe the many ongoing river projects in the City of London and how they all contribute to improving the Thames River water quality.
  • Deep Dive Discussion - Indigenous Perspectives (continued - ends at 11:30AM)

1:00 PM - 1:50 PM

  • ReForest London - Tree Hike (Harris Park)
    • Bio: ReForest London is a non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with our community to enhance environmental and human health in the Forest City, through the benefits of trees.
  • Ian Rae & Michael Darroch - How River Festivals Reimagine Cities (Theatre, Museum London)
    • Presentation Description: This panel will raise questions about how London, Ontario, might improve the relation between its river parks and arts communities. The panel will use case studies of the redevelopment of South Bank in London (UK), home of the 1951 Festival of Britain, and of the river park in Stratford (CAN), home of the Stratford Festival, to illustrate the links between cultural festivals, urban design, and ecological amelioration.

      Michael Darroch will discuss how, in response to the need to rebuild Europe’s war-torn cities, and to criticisms of functionalist approaches to urban life in the cold-war context, architects proposed new models of collective living to restore the democratic sphere through “living architecture” and new media experiments.

      Ian Rae will illustrate how Stratford used music and theatre festivals to convert derelict industrial properties along the Avon River into a park system that would anchor a world-renowned cultural hub and a burgeoning tech sector.

    • Bio: Ian Rae, Associate Professor, King’s University College, London, ON. irae@uwo.ca. Ian Rae is Associate Professor of English at King’s University College in London, ON. He is the author of From Cohen to Carson: The Poet’s Novel in Canada (MQUP, 2008) and is working on a SSHRC-funded project called Mapping Stratford Culture.

      Michael Darroch, Associate Professor, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON. mdarroch@uwindsor.ca. Michael Darroch is Associate Professor of Media Art Histories and Visual Culture in the School of Creative Arts, University of Windsor. He was Founding Director (2010-16) and is now Co-Director of the IN/TERMINUS Creative Research Collective.

  • Raj Gill - From toxic algae to micro-plastics, Lake Erie Guardians are stepping-up! (Centre at the Forks, Museum London)
    • Presentation Description: Harmful algae has become a persistent problem in Lake Erie over the last decade, threatening drinking water, making wildlife and pets ill, and reducing our recreational opportunities by closing beaches and making the waters unpleasant to be in or around. With much of the algae-causing pollution coming from upstream in the watershed, caring for rivers such as the Thames will not only improve water quality locally, but also in Lake Erie. Learn how the Lake Erie Water Guardians are creating a fun and caring community to tackle these challenges, and becoming champions for our watershed. You’ll want to join them!
    • Bio: Raj Gill is the Canadian Freshwater Alliance’s Great Lakes Organizer, assisting groups, businesses and individuals in the region to connect and engage their communities in protecting our great lakes and rivers.

2:00 PM - 2:50 PM 

  • ReForest London - Tree Hike (Harris Park)
  • King's Students - Gender, Justice, and the River: Student Panel (Theatre, Museum London)
    • Panel Description: A collaboration between King’s Creative Writing and Social Justice and Peace Studies students, this student panel will critically and creatively engage with issues of gender, justice, and the river.
    • Bio: King’s Social Justice and Peace Studies Students and Writing Students.
  • Zero Waste Forest City - Deep Dive Discussion: Plastic & Pollution (Centre at the Forks, Museum London)
    • Bio: Zero Waste Forest City is a community group deeply passionate about our planet. Through advocacy, educational opportunities, community partnerships, and accessible resources, we strive to make a low-impact lifestyle more approachable to everyone in the Forest City, and beyond. We aim to empower individuals to make informed, earth-conscious choices, and believe that together we have the collective power to make our community a healthier, more sustainable place to be.

3:00 PM - 3:50 PM 

  • Vanessa GrayEnvironmental Justice in Aamjiwnaang First Nation (Theatre, Museum London)
    • Presentation Description: Vanessa will speak about her learnings from her work with Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP). ASAP is a small grassroots collective of Anishinaabe land defenders that connect the Indigenous front line environmental struggles. Our group Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines asserts Indigenous Rights and Sovereignty, and we use both non-violent direct action and education to raise awareness about environmental injustice. We work with allies throughout Southern Ontario in order to build a network of support for our community, and to break down barriers of race, class, gender, and culture. ASAP messaging focuses on our community’s connection between health and the environment.
    • Bio: Vanessa Gray is an Anishinaabekwe from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, located in Canada's Chemical Valley. As an organizer with ASAP, Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines, she works with community members to bring awareness to the health issues resulting from her reserve's toxic surroundings. On December 21st, 2015, Vanessa was arrested for shutting down Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline.

6:30 PM - 7:00 PM

  • London Arts Council Collaborative Performance - Artists TBA

7:15 PM - 8:15 PM

  • Keynote Speaker: Autumn Peltier - The Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
    • Presentation Description: Autumn will speak about the importance of clean drinking water as well as the significance of water in indigenous tradition. She will speak about the role that people have in advocating for water rights and will share stories from her journies around the world advocating for water. Autumn will highlight the unique relationship between women, as the givers of life, and the importance water plays in sustaining all life.
    • Bio: Autumn Peltier is a 13-year-old from Wikwemikong First Nation / Manitoulin Island and is from Ojibway/Odawa heritage. Autumn is a Canadian water activist and she advocates for clean drinking in First Nations communities and across Mother Earth. She has travelled far and wide to carry the message of the importance of clean water. She has spoken at the United Nations,  been honoured by the Assembly of First Nations as a water protector and recently travelled to  Stockholm Sweden for World Water Week.

View the schedule for The River Talks: A Gathering at Deshkan Ziibi here.

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