NAISA 2017 Reflection
Written June 24, 2017 by Myia Antone
Today marks the end of the NAISA 2017 Conference held at UBC this year. I am left with more questions than I brought. They say the more you know, the less you know and this saying could not be more true as this conference has opened more doors to new curiosities. I leave the conference with a full heart and very full mind.
NAISA is an international and interdisciplinary professional organization for scholars, graduate students, independent researchers and community members interested in all aspects of Indigenous studies. With over 150 panel and round-table discussions over the course of three days, there were dialogues on Indigenous feminism, sovereignty and governance, visual art, belonging, and language and so many more. If you’re interested in seeing the topics and speakers, you can download the schedule here.
Some of my highlights: Moʻolelo, Moʻokʻauhau: Kanaka ʻiwi theory and analysis of Hawaiian song, story, history and genealogy was one of my favourite discussions. Not only did we get to listen to the presenters speak in beautiful Hawaiian, they explained how their language teaches them how to see the world as Hawaiians. I also loved the Rematriation and Other Indigenous Feminist Theories of Change panel featuring four strong and inspiring women, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Eve Tuck, Tanya Lukin Linklater and Karyn Recollet, who got up to talk about rematriation and their perspectives on how change can really happen.
As intimidating as it was being an undergraduate student in a room full of successful scholars, everyone welcomed me with a warm smile and they were even curious on my point of view of the panel’s topics. I think it is important for everyone (undergraduates too!) to remember that we all have our own voices, stories and visions. We all bring a unique perspective and we have valuable voices to share with the rest of the world. Whether your story is told best through writing, visual art or public speaking, share what you are most passionate about and give it your all.
I sat eagerly at desks and tables with my notebook open to blank pages, waiting for speakers to start. At the end of the hour and 45 minute sessions, I exchanged emails with presenters with hopes of staying in contact. Watching Masters and PhD students present their theses, I was able to put actual faces to actual Indigenous grad students. Hearing from these students that grad school is a realistic option and that they would recommend going if you’re thinking about it was definitely a game changer..
Aboriginal Student Affairs and NAISA hosted a lunch for undergrads interested in finding out more about grad school. Four presenters from the conference, Eve Tuck, Robert Innes, Daniel Voth and Mique’l Dangeli, joined to talk about their grad school experience as students and as professors. I sat and listened to their advice, forgetting to write any of it down because I was so busy eating the delicious sandwiches provided. Grad school has always seemed so far away, however as I start my fourth year this fall, I’m realizing that I’m going to blink and my undergrad will be officially over. If/when ASA hosts another event like this, I would really recommend going. Even if you’re not completely set on going to grad school, I learned so much about how to apply and what life as a grad student is like. Also, I learned who a grad school supervisor is and how to choose one.
So I’m going to leave you with advice that really stood out to me from the conference:
- All knowledge is not held in one school of thought. It is kept in many people, not just one.
- We all bring our own gifts to the table.
- Science is catching up to our stories.
- The land has always, and will always, be our first teacher.
- Nothing is permanent.
Learn more about NAISA on their Twitter feed.