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Indigenous Art and Activism: Three Voices – CIH 3rd Annual LGBTQ2S+ Lecture

August 26, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

By Donation
This year’s CIH LGBTQ2S+ Lecture will feature three celebrated young Indigenous artists and intellectuals.

The Calgary Institute for the Humanities is excited to announce the speakers for our third annual LGBTQ2S+ Lecture: novelist Joshua Whitehead, poet Billy-Ray Belcourt, and special musical guest Shawnee Kish. The event will take place on Thursday, August 26 at 7:00 pm, the evening before Calgary Pride Week. In light of the uncertainties caused by the pandemic, the event will take place online.

The evening will feature readings by Whitehead and Belcourt, performances by Shawnee Kish, and a roundtable discussion about the intersections of art and activism for queer, trans and two-spirit indigenous artists. The Calgary Institute for the Humanities is Canada’s oldest humanities institute, and this lecture series is part of a longer tradition at the University of Calgary of supporting LGBTQ2S+ rights, as seen in Kevin Allen’s history of the LGBTQ community in Calgary, Our Past Matters.

The CIH is working to build an endowment to support this annual talk by key voices in LGBTQ2S+ Studies, to make this a permanent feature of our yearly calendar, and to continue to promote the values of diversity and inclusion in our university and our community.

Presented in partnership with UCalgary Alumni.

Joshua Whitehead Joshua Whitehead (he/him) is a Two-Spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of English and Indigenous Studies at UCalgary. He is the author of full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks 2017) and Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press 2018), winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction, the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction, and Canada Reads 2021. He is also the editor of Love after the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020). His forthcoming book, Making Love with the Land is slated to release in Spring 2022 with Knopf Canada.

Billy-Ray Belcourt is a writer and academic from the Driftpile Cree Nation (Treaty 8). He earned a PhD in English at the University of Alberta and is an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. In the First Nations Youth category, Belcourt was awarded a 2019 Indspire Award, which is the highest honor the Indigenous community bestows on its own leaders. Billy-Ray’s debut book of poems, This Wound is a World (Frontenac House 2017), won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize (making him the youngest ever winner). His subsequent books were national bestsellers. NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field won the 2020 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry and was shortlisted for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. A History of my Brief Body, essays and vignettes on grief, colonial violence, joy, love, and queerness was a Globe & Mail Best Book and a finalist for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

Named the 2020 winner of CBC’s national talent search, Spotlight, Shawnee Kish has been making a name for herself since she stepped out onto the stage at the age of 12. Since then, the Edmonton-based artist has earned spots on Billboard’s 2019 list of Musicians You Need To Know, MTV’s list of Top Gender Bending Artists and CBC’s Top 100 Playlist. As a performer she has shared a stage with international talents such as Lady Gaga, Madonna and Alicia Keys. Shawnee Kish uses her music to empower and inspire youth, LGBT2Q+ and Indigenous youth. Her extensive work and involvement in these communities through national campaigns with organizations such as We Matter and Kids Help Phone continues to confirm that her passion and career is driven by empowering young people.

The Calgary Institute for the Humanities (CIH) is launching a campaign to establish an endowed lecture series in LGBTQ2S+studies. The CIH will bring to our city new voices in the conversation on LGBTQ2S+ topics each year. To make a donation, please visit