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University of Calgary hosts indigenous speaker series

By Scott Strasser, June 1 2016 —

The University of Calgary will host the indigenous speaker series REDx Talks on June 2.

Influenced by the TEDx Talks format, the not-for-profit speaker series focuses on aboriginal issues in Canada.

“REDx Talks is a platform for indigenous worldviews to express traditional practices in the spirit of oral tradition,” said founder and curator Cowboy Smithx.

The idea for the program began nine years ago. Mount Royal University hosted the first full event in October 2015.

The program quickly expanded.

“We set beacons out all over the world to find new partners and new territories,” Smithx said. “We’ve done REDx Talks programs in Edmonton, Calgary and Chile. Our next projects are coming up in Vancouver, Yellowknife, Regina, Toronto and New Zealand.”

June 2 will mark REDx Talks’ fifth official event. The main theme will be the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, released in November 2015.

The TRC documents the experiences of survivors and family members affected by Canadian residential schools.

“[It’s] probably the most important conversation in Canada’s history,” Smithx said. “We’re offering a public discourse where audience members have the opportunity to not only be engaged by being attendees, but also have the opportunity to have their voices heard and get an education about what the TRC actually is.”

The six speakers at the event encompass a wide range of indigenous thinkers. Speakers include Smithx, Dr. Marie Wilson, Dallas Goldtooth, Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, Melina Laboucan-Massimo and Erica Lee.

“It’s a very dynamic discourse,” Smithx said. “We’ve got perspectives from various indigenous voices who practice their work in business, activism, feminism, environmentalism, sustainability, traditional land use practice, art and even comedy.”

REDx Talks will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. The event includes food and music. Tickets can be bought from the REDx website and range from $60 to $150.

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