Regina symposium brings artists and academics together to 'imagine' the land

Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and academics will converge this weekend at the First Nations University of Canada to imagine ways to live sustainably.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists will talk about living in rural Saskatchewan

The symposium at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina runs Friday and Saturday. (Brad Bellegarde/CBC)

Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and academics will converge this weekend at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina to imagine ways to live sustainably.

A two-day event titled Land and the Imagination: A Symposium on Sustainable Ways to Inhabit Rural Saskatchewan, kicks off this evening with a keynote by artist Sherry Farrell Racette.

"I'm interested in how this Indigenous and non-Indigenous [conversation] is coming together," said David Garneau, a Métis artist and an associate professor of visual arts at the University of Regina.

"I always like it when Indigenous people are brought together not just to talk about being Indigenous.

"I think that things will come up that will be pretty fresh ... because when it's around land, we're more or less willing to listen to somebody else who cares about it the way we do."

The list of artists and creative thinkers include award-winning Cree and Métis artist Lori Blondeau, poet and philosopher Jan Zwicky as well as Regina author Trevor Herriot.

"The world needs Indigenous voices," said Herriot.

"Their voices coming to the table could be the thing that really helps us turn the corner in all the ecological problems. We colonize the land and we colonize our own imagination with our own ideas."

Artist David Garneau says he likes how the conversation on land including Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices is coming together. (David Garneau/Facebook)

According to Herriot, people need to be able to open their imaginations on things like land tenure.

Sparking conversation around sustainability of the land in a symposium is an idea that writer Sherri Benning has thought about for some time.

"I grew up on a small farm," said Benning.

"As farms have gotten bigger and bigger, we've seen this increase to rural population."

Benning added that with climate concerns being at the forefront of environmental discussions, she wanted to take a look at creative responses to land.

Her hope is that the conversations at the symposium will get people thinking about the importance of land and community health.

"I wanted to be sure that there was [likeness] in the representation of voices so that there was Indigenous and non-Indigenous thinkers because we're living in a time of reconciliation."

The symposium runs Friday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. CST and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST.

All events are free and open to the public and will take place in the multi-purpose room in the First Nations University of Canada.