France Trepanier

Episode 7: Aruna Srivastava Interviews France Trépanier at Wisdom Council

Aug 25, 2020

Show notes

This interview of France Trépanier by Aruna Srivastava was recorded during a TIA House symposium called Wisdom Council in September 2019. Wisdom Council recognized the imperfect knowledge transmission methods of the colonial system, and particularly the ways it has tended to fragment non-Western knowledges and privilege the textual over the oral. Using a combination of traditional and contemporary practices, it brought together a small council of mostly BIPOC senior practitioners in the contemporary arts to sit in council over three days to discuss such topics as what our communities need now; memory and forgetting; care of elders in racialized communities; stories of the past, present and future; stories in cyclical time; community formations they’ve experienced; community formations they remember; how they understand the work that needs to be done; and practices and strategies that might be of use or interest in the present moment. This interview was recorded as part of the gathering’s work.

France Trépanier is a visual artist and curator of Kanien’kéha:ka and French ancestry. She is currently guest curator at Open Space in Victoria. France is also co-director of the Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires initiative, which seeks to place Indigenous arts at the centre of the Canadian art system ( France co-authored with Chris Creighton-Kelly Understanding Aboriginal Art in Canada Today: A Knowledge and Literature Review for the Canada Council for the Arts. She is co-chair of the Indigenous Program Council at the Banff Centre.

Aruna Srivastava has spent many years working as an anti-racism educator in various community-based, arts, and academic contexts, focused in more recent years on the complexities and intersections of disability, illness, age, and trauma in this work. As a racialized arrivant/settler, who has been a guest in many Indigenous lands across the world, she has found a home for quite some time here in what the Blackfoot called Moh’kins’tsis in Treaty 7 territory. Aruna has in the past twenty years or so also been on a journey to work in alliance with Indigenous peoples; this has shown her better and wiser ways to work both within and against colonial structures, such as universities, arts institutions, and non-profit organizations. The work of (re)conciliation engages her specifically in that it requires storying and storing or archiving memory in many forms—and repudiates forgetting.

8:27 France mentions the artist Alanis Obomsawin:

11:52 France refers to the IntraNation Conference:

13:19 The gathering France talks about was called the Diversity and Francophonie Conference, which took place in 2005. For more information, see

13:57 France names the politician Roméo Saganash:

15:06: More on Cheryl L’Hirondelle’s work can be found on her website: Shirley Bear is an artist and poet:

16:08 Aruna refers to the New Gallery in Calgary:

18:51 The piece France refers to is “Offerings”: This website is part of a larger exhibition.

29:43 France talks about her curated exhibition “The Time of Things.” For more information on this exhibition, see

TIA House recognizes the generous support of the Canada Research Chairs program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. We also appreciate the support of the Faculty of Arts and the Department of English at the University of Calgary, where our offices are housed, as well as the guidance of Marc Stoeckle at the Taylor Family Digital Library. TIA House is run by Larissa Lai, Trynne Delaney, Rebecca Geleyn, Isabelle Michalski, and Joshua Whitehead.

Our Intro/Outro music is Monarch of the Streets by Loyalty Freak Music, accessed from the Free Music Archive.

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