Suzette Mayr. Courtesy, Coach House Books.

Black Lives Out West: Panel with Suzette Mayr, Joshua Whitehead, and Marlon Simmons

Jun 16, 2020

In light of the recent and ongoing police brutality, anti-Black racism, and anti-Indigenous racism in Canada and the United States, we are pausing our regular podcast release schedule to highlight the Black and Indigenous voices who joined us for the TIA House symposium Black Lives Out West in November 2017.

TIA House stands in solidarity with the movements to end anti-Black racism and find justice for Black and Indigenous lives. As an organization committed to social justice and innovative aesthetics, TIA House will continue to amplify and connect the creative work that educators, writers, and artists are taking on in academia and in the community at large to end racial violence and discrimination.

In this recorded video, Suzette Mayr, Joshua Whitehead, and Marlon Simmons give talks on the topic of “Thinking at the Crossroads”:


About Black Lives Out West:

Recent discussions about the relationship between Black and Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island underline the expropriation of land on the one hand and the making-property of human beings on the other. With this paradigm in mind, Black Lives Out West recognized the Western territories of Turtle Island as a zone of exclusion, a site of social death, and a contact zone. Scholars, critics, and writers deeply considered what relationships can and should be, and how to imagine ethical practice in light of that condition that Lisa Lowe has called “the intimacy of four continents” but with a particular focus of Black and Indigenous concerns and subject positions. Speakers took Kamau Brathwaite’s term “arrivant” recently elaborated by Jodi Byrd in The Transit of Empire to nuance the modes and intentions (or lack of intentions) in movement. From the history of the black Albertan cowboy, John Ware, to that of Hogan’s Alley in Vancouver, to that of the recent asylum seekers crossing the US border at Emerson, Manitoba, this symposium began to re-imagine, re-member, and re-make the contact zone in the hope of better relationships and ethical practices. This symposium was organized by TIA House and Suzette Mayr.

Suzette Mayr is the author of five novels, including her most recent book Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall. Her novel Monoceros won the ReLit and the City of Calgary W. O. Mitchell Awards and was nominated for the 2011 Giller Prize, the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction, and Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction. Her novel The Widows was a finalist for the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in the Canada-Caribbean region. She is a former president of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, and she has been teaching creative writing at the University of Calgary since 2003.

Joshua Whitehead is an Oji-Cree/nehiyaw member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1) in Manitowapow. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Calgary where he focuses on Indigenous Literatures and Cultures. Josh is the author of full-metal indigiqueer and Jonny Appleseed.

Marlon Simmons is an Assistant Professor at the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. His research interests include Diaspora and culture, governance of the self and communicative network practices of youth.

Special thanks to Ben Groh for editing this video.

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