About the Talk
The McLeod Lecture Series is an Annual Talk hosted by the Department of English. This year, poet and water steward Rita Wong (Associate Professor, Emily Carr University of Art and Design) will offer cultural and ecological perspectives on our shared responsibilities to care for the land and water in respectful partnership with Indigenous peoples.
Asking how to be in good relation and uphold our responsibilities to the land and the land's Indigenous peoples, Rita Wong will consider how water teaches us so much about where to focus our attention and energy in these precarious times of accelerating climate crisis. From its response to illegitimate pipelines on unceded Coast Salish land, to destructive hydro dams violating the Peace Valley on sacred Dane Zaa territories, water is one of the best teachers we could hope to learn from. Navigating Lee Maracle’s teaching that “the water owns itself” and Bruce Lee’s advice to “be water, my friend,” Wong will share some poems and some stories of where her journeys with water have been leading her.
About the Speaker
Rita Wong is a poet-scholar who attends to the relationships between water justice, ecology, and decolonization. She has co-edited an anthology with Dorothy Christian entitled Downstream: Reimagining Water, based on a gathering that brought together elders, artists, scientists, writers, scholars, students and activists around the urgent need to care for the waters that give us life.
A recipient of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop Emerging Writer Award, Wong is the author of current, climate (Wilfrid Laurier UP 2021), beholden (Talonbooks, 2018, with Fred Wah), undercurrent (Nightwood, 2015), perpetual (Nightwood, 2015, with Cindy Mochizuki), sybil unrest (Line Books, 2008, with Larissa Lai), forage (Nightwood, short-listed for the 2008 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry, winner of Canada Reads Poetry 2011), and monkeypuzzle (Press Gang, 1998).
Wong works to support Indigenous communities' efforts towards justice and health for water, having witnessed such work at the Peace River, the Wedzin Kwa, Ada’itsx/Fairy Creek, the Columbia River, the Fraser River, the Salish Sea, and the Arctic Ocean watershed. She understands that when these waterways are healthy, life (including people) will be healthy too, and that we cannot afford to endanger and pollute the waters that sustain our lives.
An Associate Professor in Critical and Cultural Studies at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Wong has also served her faculty association as a steward and president. She completed her PhD at SFU, where her dissertation focused on Asian North American cultural production. As an instructor, Wong values the processes of open dialogue, critical inquiry, respect for difference, and attentive listening as an important basis for lifelong learning.