Landspeak began in 2021 with Landspeak gathering (March 2021), a four-day online event attended by over 400 people.
Later in 2021 we organised a Reading of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report (September–December 2021).
In November 2022, we organised for the visit to Ireland of Poet Laureate of Canadian Parliament, Louise Halfe, for which we organised a series of events under the title of Landspeak 2022 – Visit / Cruinniú / Kiyokēwin. We anticipate further events will be organised in 2023/24.
Pictured at the visit to the Kindred Spirits sculpture in Midleton, Cork are, from left to right: Brian Solomon, Joseph Naytowhow, Peter Butt, Louise Halfe, James Kelly, Paul Halferty
In collaboration with our partners, Landspeak convened Visit / Cruinniú / Kiyokēwin in November 2022, welcoming to Ireland a delegation of Indigenous artists from Turtle Island / Canada.
The aim of Visit / Cruinniú / Kiyokēwin was to build upon connections forged online during Landspeak: A Gathering of Indigenous and Irish Voices, a virtual conference that took place online in March 2021, and Reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC), a weekly reading organised by Landspeak, reading of the TRC aloud among people from Turtle Island and Ireland, gathered online over the Autumn of 2021.
The visiting delegation for visit / cruinniú / kiyokēwin were:
- Louise B. Halfe – Cree Poet Laureate of Canadian Parliament originally from Saddle Lake First Nation
- Joseph Naytowhow – Cree knowledge keeper, singer and storyteller from Sturgeon Lake First Nation
- Brian Solomon – Choreographer/ Dancer of Anishinaabe and Irish heritage, born in Shebahonaning / Killarney, Ontario
Meeting in person, and undertaking a variety of activities, Visit / Cruinniú / Kiyokēwin greatly strengthened connections among the Landspeak conference organisers and, at the same time, introduced these Indigenous artists, elders, and knowledge keepers to artists, academics, and community workers in Ireland, in an effort to create networks of collaboration and sharing that will foster cultural and knowledge exchange into the future.
Lucht fáiltithe · Welcoming group
The visit to Ireland was facilitated by a number of people, organisers and collaborators, who welcomed the visitors, opening pathways to collaboration and connection. Members of the lucht fáiltithe were:
- Amanda Hopkins – Programme Manager, ICUF
- David Stanton TD – Convenor, Ireland-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group
- James Kelly – CEO, ICUF
- Liam Ó Maonlaí – Musician
- Louise Allen – Director, Creative Futures Academy
- Manchán Magan – Writer & documentary maker
- Dr. Paul Halferty – Director Centre for Canadian Studies, UCD
- Prof. Regina Uí Chollatáin – Principal, College of Arts and Humanities, UCD
The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, welcomed Poet Laureate Louise Halfe and the Landspeak delegation in Áras an Uachtaráin (the president’s official residence). Louise Halfe read from her work, and presented President Higgins with a signed copy of a collection of her work. Joseph Naytowhow shared a Cree song.
After these formalities, the Landspeak delegation were grateful to have the opportunity to sit down with President Higgins for a discussion on a range of topics of shared interest, including stewardship of the environment and the unique importance of indigenous languages.
The Landspeak delegation meeting with Irish parliamentarians: alongside Louise Halfe (centre) are Senator Mark Daly, Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, and David Stanton TD, Convener of the Ireland Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group
At the kind invitation of David Stanton TD, Convener of the Ireland Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group in Dáil Éireann, a reception was held to welcome Poet Laureate Louise Halfe to the Houses of the Oireachtas (Legislature).
At this reception, Louise and the Landspeak delegation were formally welcomed to the Oireachtas by Deputy Stanton and by Senator Mark Daly, Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, after which Louise read from her work.
After the reception, Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD, the Ceann Comhairle (chairperson) offered an official welcome to Louise Halfe and the Landspeak delegation from the floor of the Dáil Chamber at the commencing of the sitting.
Convened by Dr Paul Halferty (pictured above), Director of the Centre for Canadian Studies in UCD, Landspeak: Poetry and Music from Ireland and Turtle Island/Canada was an evening of poetry and song, organised to welcome Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate Louise Halfe — Skydancer and Cree knowledge-keeper Joseph Naytowhow to Ireland.
Following an opening address from Professor Regina Uí Chollatáin, Principal and Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, the evening began with a session in which Indigenous singer/songwriter and storyteller Joseph Naytowhow (Plains/Woodland Cree/nehiyaw) and Irish singer/songwriter and Gaeilgeoir Liam Ó Maonlaí shared songs from their traditions, and went on to discuss their music, and the importance of indigenous languages to their work. This was moderated by James Kelly of ICUF.
This was followed by a conversation on poetry. In a session moderated by Dr. Lucy Collins, Louise Halfe spoke and shared poetry with Irish Langauge poet Dr Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh. Halfe and Ní Ghearbhuigh read their poetry in Cree, Irish, and English, and engaged in conversation about the importance of their indigenous languages and their connections to land in their poetry.
About the participants:
- Louise Halfe — Skydancer · Louise is Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada, having previously served as Saskatchewan’s Poet Laureate for two years and traveled extensively. She was raised on Saddle Lake Reserve. More about Louise Halfe — Skydancer »
- Joseph Naytowhow · Joseph is a Plains/Woodland Cree (nehiyaw) singer-songwriter, storyteller, and voice, stage, and film actor from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation Band in Saskatchewan. More about Joseph Naytowhow »
- Liam Ó Maonlaí · A founding member and frontman of the internationally successful Hot House Flowers, Liam also performs widely as a solo artist, and in collaboration with other musicians around the world. More about Liam Ó Maonlaí »
- Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh · Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh is an Irish-language poet and was born in Kerry. She has read at festivals in New York, Paris, Montréal, Berlin and Ballyferriter. More about Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh »
- Dr. Lucy Collins · Associate Professor, School of English, Drama and Film, UCD. More about Dr. Lucy Collins »
- James Kelly · James is CEO of the Ireland Canada University Foundation, a role which he balances with his work in the arts sector. More about James Kelly »
The Kindred Spirits Monument celebrates the connection between Ireland and the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island / North America, in particular with the Choctaw Nation.
To begin Landspeak 2022, we organised a special event at this monument, which was kindly hosted by David Stanton TD. After David’s words of welcome, Louise Halfe shared some thoughts and read a poem, Joseph Naytowhow sang a song, and gave a blessing. Canadian Ambassador Nancy Smyth spoke warmly of the importance of this occasion. Following the event, the Landspeak group were welcomed for a poetry event in St. Colman’s Community College, where students shared their poetry and song with the visitors. Louise and Joseph shared their poetry and song, and Brian Solomon surprised us all by engaging everyone in the room in an impromptu dance. It was a wonderful start to Landspeak 2022.
On September 30, 2021, Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we began a public reading of the Executive Summary of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Following the opening of the reading on September 30th, we met weekly on Zoom for two hours every Monday, and read the report out loud.
On Monday 20th December, 2021, we finally completed the reading, with the “Calls to Action”. The reading took place on Zoom, with an open invitation to all to take part in the reading. There was also an open invitation to come just to listen.
This event is the second of the two closing performances for Landspeak — one on either side of the Atlantic. In this session, there will be music and song — full details coming soon.
This event is the first of the two closing performances for Landspeak — one on either side of the Atlantic. In this session, two indigenous poets, Gregory Scofield and Louise Bernice Halfe, will read from and discuss their work. The event will be moderated by Cheryl L’Hirondelle.
These two poets are among the most acclaimed Indigenous writers of Turtle Island, and both create poetry that is inspired by their deep knowledge of the Cree language. Métis poet Gregory Scofield often writes about the interplay of land, ancestors and language, and Cree poet Louise Bernice Halfe has often explored the roles of Cree women in history and in the contemporary world. Join us for this celebration of Indigenous poetry and community.
Métis storyteller Rob Malo and Irish storyteller Nuala Hayes share stories that explore language and belonging. These storytellers are celebrated for their dynamic performance styles and their engagement with listeners of all ages. This session, moderated by Warren Cariou, will take “online storytelling” in exciting new directions and will be hugely enjoyable for all.
With: Thirza Cuthand, Brenda Rawn Jordan, Paul Halferty, Naomi Wilson, Elaine Gallagher, Tasha Hubbard, Catherine Martin, Daniel O’Hara, James Kelly, June Scudeler, Louise Ní Fhiannachta and Kevin Lee Burton
The film panel Moving Images, Dynamic Languages brought together Indigenous filmmakers from the land now known as Canada and filmmakers working as Gaelige (in the Irish language) on the island of Ireland. The panel was moderated by James Kelly and June Scudeler.
Looking particularly at language and identity, and at teachings and story, the panel was an opportunity for these filmmakers to connect and address the importance of fostering and nurturing indigenous languages, stories, teachings, and memory.
The panel was divided into two conversations, one after the other. The participants in the two conversations are listed below, along with a link to a film from each filmmaker, or a link to a selection of their work as shown on the website of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).
Filmmakers, first conversation · Moderated by James Kelly
- Louise Ni Fhiannachta · Rúbaí
- Daniel O’Hara · Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom
- Catherine Martin · Films viewable on NFB website
- Kevin Lee Burton – Films viewable on NFB website
- James Kelly – Athair (Father)
Filmmakers, second conversation · Moderated by June Scudeler
- Naomi Wilson · An Cailleach Bhéarra
- Elaine Gallagher · An Rinceoir (The Dancer)
- Thirza Cuthand · Woman Dress
- Tasha Hubbard · Buffalo Calling · See also more on NFB website
This event was sponsored by imagineNATIVE.
With: Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh
The renowned sean-nós singer and musician, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, opened the fourth and final day of Landspeak. Muireann’s work A Chonaire, a retelling of the Irish mythological tale Togail Bruidne Dá Derga, gives a sense of her work.
The final day of Landspeak 2021 had a thematic focus on music, song, and cinema, and Muireann’s opening led into the film panel Movings Images, Dynamic Languages.
In this session, Irish storyteller Jack Lynch and Tlicho Dene writer and storyteller Richard Van Camp shared their stories about connection to land. These renowned artists examined themes of environmental ethics as well as the relationship of traditional knowledge to global communities. The session was moderated by Warren Cariou.
Three passionate language activists discussed their work on this panel, moderated by James Kelly.
The award-winning author Nicola I. Campbell discussed working in the Nłe7kepmxcín or Halq’emeylem languages; Úna-Minh Kavanagh spoke about the award-winning We Are Irish project, and Linda Ervine discussed Turas, a project connecting people from Protestant communities to their own history with the Irish language.
This event, a seminar exploring language and story, was moderated by Warren Cariou, and presented by Sherry Farrell-Racette and Cheryl L’Hirondelle.
In “Harps, Shamrocks, and the Red Saloon: the Métis/Fenian Alliance of 1869-1870,” Sherry Farrell-Racette told how in 1869, the Métis of the Red River Settlement replaced the company flag at the Hudson’s Bay post of Upper Fort Garry with a flag that featured a harp and a shamrock alongside the French fleur-de-lis. The Métis/Fenian alliance this act represented was short-lived, but the flag remains a visual reminder of a story with equal measures of tragedy and farce.
Based on her own perspective and recent history, Cheryl L’Hirondelle spoke of what songs show about the relationships between nations, and she proposed a way forward between Ireland and Indigenous nations.
In this session, moderated by Warren Cariou, two extraordinary thinkers discussed the connections between language and land in their own cultural contexts.
Okanagan writer and professor Jeannette Armstrong has written about her people’s territory as the source of their n’sylcin language and stories.
In Thirty-two Words for Field, Irish writer and filmmaker Manchán Magan writes about the embeddedness of the Irish language within the very soil of Ireland.
Both are fluent speakers of their traditional languages, and both have explored in rich detail the profound knowledge about the environment that is held in those languages.
Inspired by an encounter with an urban coyote, Aubrey Hanson’s “Morning Coyote, Night Fox, Urban Métis: A Métissage on Writing and Presence” weaves three narrative strands into reflections on being on urban lands, writing during the pandemic, and Indigenous resurgence.
Oein DeBhairduin’s Why the Moon Travels (2020) has been described as “a haunting collection” in which “brave vixens, prophetic owls, and stalwart horses live alongside the human characters as guides, protectors, friends and foes while spirits, giants and fairies blur the lines between this world and the otherworld.”
In this discussion, these two perspectives were juxtaposed in an exploration of language and story, moderated by Renée Hulan.
This discussion explored how the games we play influence and reflect identity — with perspectives from the Iroquois game of lacrosse and the Irish game of hurling. The discussion was moderated by the Irish Ambassador to Canada, Dr. Eamonn McKee.
In this seminar, Cathal Billings and Regina Uí Chollatáin presented two perspectives on the history of the revival of gaelic games.
In “Speaking Irish with Hurley Sticks: Gaelic sports, the Irish language and national identity in revival Ireland,” Dr Cathal Billings explored the revival of Gaelic games and the Irish language and their central roles in the formation and expression of Irish national identity during the period 1884-1934. Professor Uí Chollatáin (Ollamh Sinsearach agus Cathaoir na Nua-Ghaeilge) revealed a Canadian dimension to the Gaelic Revival in “The Canadian Gael: Revision and Revival.”
The session was moderated by Renée Hulan.
A discussion which explored identity, sovereignty, partnerships and alliances.
This panel discussion, moderated by Michael Kennedy, explored the nature and history of the game of lacrosse — a “medicine game” from the Creator which has been shared with the world by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which comprises six tribes of indigenous people of North America.
The discussion considered the relationship between lacrosse and identity, including issues of sovereignty which are of particular relevance for the Haudenosaunee. The panel also explored connections between the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team and the Ireland lacrosse team, which recently made global headlines in relation to the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, which will feature lacrosse but which had initially excluded the Iroquois Nationals (the 3rd ranked team in the world) from participation.
The discussion also explored how collaboration, co-operation, partnership, and alliance can be of mutual benefit for the international lacrosse community.
The second day of Landspeak began with an opening song performed by the Akwesasne Women Singers. This unique group was formed in 1999—by Bear Fox, Katsitsionni Fox, Elizabeth Nanitcoke, and Iawentas Nanticoke—driven by the urge to protect and preserve the Kanienkeha (Mohawk Language), traditional Kanienkeha:ka (Mohawk People) customs and stories, as well as the oral traditions that are passed down from grandmother to grand-daughter.
A sense of the talent and dynamism of this group is given in the performance below, recorded in 2012, of “Ka’satstenhserowa:nen” (“The Women’s Power Song”).
With: Joseph Naytowhow
The closing of the first day of Landspeak was offered by Joseph Naytowhow. In a counterpoint to the opening blessing at the beginning of the day, the closing focused on storytelling — and included a story from Joseph, about how we are all connected.
To get a sense of Joseph’s unique perspective, see some of his thoughts below about stories, indigenous values, and theatre, in an interview given to the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival in 2020.
In this opening event, we explored how song connects with land and language. Our special guests performed songs in their native languages, and shared their thoughts on this subject.
With: Joseph Naytowhow
Opening prayer and song from acclaimed Cree knowledge-keeper, storyteller and songwriter Joseph Naytowhow. The renowned Plains/Woodland Cree (nehiyaw) singer-songwriter and storyteller offered an opening song and blessing, on the invitation of the organisers of Landspeak.
This song and blessing led into the opening full session with Liam Ó Maonlaí and Pura Fé, and was then given a counterpoint in the day’s closing, when Joseph returned to offer a story to close the day.
The Landspeak Conference 2021 was a series of free online talks, workshops, events, and activities, seeking to build connections between Turtle Island and Ireland through explorations in culture, sport, creativity, language, and the environment.
Landspeak brought together singers and storytellers, filmmakers and musicians, athletes and academics, online, from March 17–20, 2021.
Based on the idea of two lands speaking to each other, and resonating with Jeanette Armstrong’s concept of “Land Speaking,” this gathering provided a space for learning and building lasting relationships between the people of Ireland and the Indigenous peoples from different nations and territories of Turtle Island.
Landspeak was presented by the ICUF, in partnership with the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture in the University of Manitoba, the Centre for Canadian Studies in University College Dublin, and the Craig Dobbin Visiting Professor, University College Dublin.
Indigenous languages, story, and song come from the land, and connect Indigenous people to their cultures and to each other. By protecting and promoting their languages, Indigenous communities affirm the sovereignty denied under settler colonialism. Thus, the gathering acknowledged how the history of Indigenous dispossession and the Irish diaspora are entangled within the settlement of what is now Canada, while learning from the experience of colonization and decolonization on the island of Ireland and across North America, such as the revival of language and culture in Ireland and Indigenous nations. In word, song, and image, Landspeak was a space where Indigenous and Irish voices are heard.
All events that were part of the Landspeak Conference 2021:
Day 1, March 17, 2021:
Day 2, March 18, 2021:
- Opening Song
- Lacrosse Roundtable
- Games and Sport Seminar
- Discussion: Sport, community, identity, and nationhood
Day 3, March 19, 2021:
- Opening Song
- Discussion: Language and Story
- Writers on land and environment
- Language and Story Seminar
- Panel Discussion: minority languages — hopes for the future?
- Storytelling Session
Day 4, March 20, 2021:
- Opening Song
- Film Panel: Moving Images, Dynamic Languages
- Storyteller Session
- Closing Performance 1: Poetry Reading
- Closing Performance 2: Music
Landspeak was organised with the assistance of the Government of Canada/Landspeak a été organisé avec l’appui du gouvernement du Canada. The ICUF is supported by the Government of Ireland, through the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs.