Friday, 08 December 2017 05:28

Univ. of Lethbridge's Take Two series delves into Métis struggles

Written by  Demi Knight
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Assistant professor in Native American studies, Monique Giroux took to the microphone at the take two speaker series at the University of Lethbridge to discuss Metis under-representation in the 2017 Opera revival of Louis Riel Assistant professor in Native American studies, Monique Giroux took to the microphone at the take two speaker series at the University of Lethbridge to discuss Metis under-representation in the 2017 Opera revival of Louis Riel

The University of Lethbridge found a new way to celebrate and highlight the way faculty members research and tackle key issues at local, national and global levels this year with the recent implementation of their Take Two Speaker Series.


And on Nov. 23, two professors came together at the Markin Hall to talk to audiences about Native American identity and equality (specifically in the Métis population) and the struggles they face at the third official event as part of this new series.
Assistant professor in Native American studies, Monique Giroux and associate professor in Native American studies, Maura Hanrahan took to the microphone on the chilled November afternoon at the University of Lethbridge to present topics regarding health research gaps in Métis persons and the under-representations of Métis peoples within the 2017 opera revival of Louis Riel to interested community members.
“Métis culture has often been perceived as very doom and gloom and that’s not the reality; it’s not just about their resistance to Canada, it’s also about all the other cultural aspects in their lives that don’t get shown,” says Giroux on why it’s important to explore topics on Native America and specifically Métis culture through outlets like this speaker series.
As tens of people from throughout the community took their seats, Hanrahan was first to take the stage to offer a fifteen-minute presentation on the lack of health research specifically in diabetes for the Métis population.
“There’s very little research on Métis. I’m talking today about how there’s a gap there and how it needs to be filled,” says Hanrahan of why she chose to present at the speaker series this November.
“There are way more First Nations people across Canada than there are Métis and First Nations have a political status that Métis don’t have and Métis don’t have and Métis political rights are not as recognized as first nations and Inuit across the country.”
With disease specified research under her belt this year, Hanrahan pulled the audience in with her compelling truth about the lack of recognition and understanding that the Métis population have, not just across southern Alberta, but the entire country and the challenges they face — specifically in health sectors of the current political system. Hanrahan concluded her presentation by offering her thoughts on addressing the existing gap by creating a sustaining self-government and recognizing the need for research in the health sector.
“I think that a good health policy has to be found in good health research,” says Hanrahan. “Most health research shows that the best way to improve indigenous health is by building up self-government and that might not be an obvious thing for people, but the better developed governed institutions are, generally, you will see better population health.”
After the audience soaked in Hanrahan’s research, Giroux took to the microphone to talk about her own Métis population observations and lack of representation for their people within a revived Canadian opera of Louis Riel.
“In the original 1967 production, there were no indigenous people involved, so Peter Hinton in 2017 tried to include indigenous people and he did,” says Giroux. “There’s a silent chorus that’s supposed to show what’s not in the opera, so you see that there’s this group of people being silenced. He also had a Métis assistant director but in the end the opera has almost no Métis culture in it.”
She found it important to study the opera and make this presentation at the speaker series.  Giroux talked for fifteen minutes to keen audiences of why Métis culture was not represented properly within this revived rendition of Louis Riel, despite attempts to do so and how the conservative audience of opera can play a factor in what will be successful and ultimately show to audiences across the country.
“Opera audiences are quite conservative, and they really want to see the popular operas every year. So, for any contemporary opera composer, it is difficult to get their works played.”
The third installment of the speaker series — which brought together two like-minded faculty members passionate about native American studies — was received well by the audience on Nov. 23 and offered an afternoon of important research as well as refreshments and snacks for those attending.
The Take Two Speaker series which began this September and runs once a month will be returning after Christmas in the new winter semester of 2018 to continue offering research and words of wisdom on important issues affecting our society today and throughout history.

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