Author: susanne

Our Cognitive Fingerprint: A structural look at autism and dyslexia

Written by the Graduate College member, Jennifer Plosz. She is currently a graduate student in the faculty of Education, researching the role that visualization and images might play in the growth of mathematical understanding with a particular interest in students who are non-typical learners.


No two brains are alike, yet it can not be denied that with diversity there are also trends and similarities. Each of us has a unique brain fingerprint. Just as fingerprints have their own unique pattern made up of grooves and ridges, so to do our brains. Yet, even our very unique fingerprints can be categorized based on similar patterns, such as the three basic overarching fingerprint designs: Whorl, Arch, and Loop.

Another example is if we look at the physiology of our hands, no two hands are exactly alike. Yet, if we focus attention on the width and length of our fingers, some of us have quite short stubby fingers, some have very long slender fingers, and the rest of us lie somewhere in between. The structure of our hands can have an impact on the types of tasks we are more suited towards. For example, those who have sausage-like fingers may struggle to do certain fine delicate detail work but provide an advantage in tasks requiring strength. Whereas those with slender fingers may struggle with tasks that require more strength but find delicate precision type tasks easy. In the study of brain physiology, we can likewise make similar categorizations to help us notice some broader trends. Just as some fingers are wide and some narrow, so it is with our brains, some brains are made up of wider folds, some have more narrow folds, and the rest fall somewhere in between. Could our structural brain distinctions impact our cognitive areas of strength and weakness as well?

Dr. Casanova’s work is in studying the brain physiology of different cognitive profiles. Over his many years of research, he has come to believe that there are two cognitive profiles that stand at either end of a spectrum from each other (Williams & Casanova, 2010); Autism being at one end and dyslexia at the other end, with what may be considered “neurotypicals” falling somewhere in-between. Meaning that some people may present closer to the autistic end of the spectrum, as they tend towards being more detail oriented, craving routine, and excellent rote memorizers, while another person, dyslexics, may be more conceptually oriented, crave difference and struggle to rote memorize (Perrachione, et al., 2016).

The structural differences in these two brain physiologies appear to have opposite characteristics. The brain of a person with autism has more folds in the brain than a “typical” brain (see illustrative explanation below). This increase in folds causes the folds to be more narrow, which makes the white matter area held within the fold to be denser than a “typical” brain. This affects how their neural connections are created. Autistic brain structures create more local connections than a “typical” brain structure and fewer long-range connections which also causes them to have fewer connections between the two hemispheres of the brain than “typicals”. This affects how people with autism think and learn. They tend to be very detail oriented and can develop very specialized skills, but struggle to make some of the larger or big picture connections. A person with autism often struggles to see the forest for the trees.

This tendency can play out well in school for a period of time as students with autism are great at picking up detail and spitting back the information exactly how it was presented to them. The teacher can then believe that the student is understanding. The struggle for the student with autism in school is

checking for a deep understanding. Are they making the connections that they should be making? Often the struggle is highlighted when given a bigger project, they may focus too intently on one aspect of the assignment or veer off track on something very loosely connected, missing the main overarching point to the assignment.

The dyslexic brain, on the other hand, has fewer folds than the “typical” brain (see illustrated explanation below). This decrease in folds causes the folds to be wider, which makes the white matter area held within the fold more spacious. This affects how their neural connections are created. Dyslexic brain structures create more long-range connections than a “typical” brain structure and fewer local connections. More long-range connections also cause them to have more connections between the two hemispheres of the brain than “typicals”. This affects how dyslexics think and learn, they tend to be very conceptual, big-picture thinkers, who often make connections between ideas that others do not, but they struggle to learn the details. They also tend to crave difference and creativity but are very weak rote memorizers (Perrachione, et al., 2016). They struggle to see the trees for the forest, but if they are not given the forest/big picture/conceptual aspect of a topic they are often left without a starting point, which is the root of a lot of their struggle with school.

Mimicry is alive and well in the classroom. The teacher presents the material and the student is expected to give that information back to the teacher in exactly the same form as it was presented. Students who can do this successfully often receive top marks. Dyslexics struggle to retain the details and specifics when presented with material in this way. However, they are often quite adept at taking that information and then synthesizing it or connecting it to something else. Yet, many classrooms do not focus on the critical thinking aspects of a subject. In mathematics for example, when the material is presented as a procedure that should be mimicked, the dyslexic will struggle; yet if that same topic was taught through relational understanding, the dyslexic would excel. The dyslexic mind must understand first, and then they gradually learn the details. Yet, often in school when students struggle with a topic, there is a belief that because the student is struggling they are not intelligent. This in combination with the cultural belief that memorization is easier than conceptual understanding, often prompts the teacher to breaks down the topic into little steps that the student is to memorize. This assumption of lack of intelligence and cultural belief in the ease of memorization creates an environment for dyslexics that is a downward spiral of constant challenge in school and contributes to their own belief in their lack of intelligence and ability.

It should also be noted that Dr. Casanova did not find one particular region of the brain in all people with autism or all people with dyslexia to be more frequently affected than any other, hence the fingerprint analogy. For example, it is a commonly held belief that all dyslexics struggle with phonemic awareness. One would then expect that this area of the brain associated with phonemic awareness would be affected by wider brain folds in all dyslexics. Yet, Dr. Casanova did not find this to be the case. The area of the brain that deals with phonemic awareness were not more or less affected in all the dyslexic participants. Rather, he found there to be no pattern when it came to any one area as being more affected by wider folds than others, he just found variation throughout the participants. So, some areas within the dyslexic brains were more affected than others, but as a whole group, one area was not found to be consistently affected. This seems to support the extreme level of variation that is seen in how each student with these profiles presents areas of strength and weakness. Yet, there are still overarching characteristics that can be found within each of these groups.

These ideas of spectrum and variation create an interesting discussion in many areas of the dyslexia and autism debate. Does this influence commonly held beliefs in right brain dominance for dyslexics? A University of Utah study (Nielsen, Zielinski, Ferguson, Lainhart, & Anderson, 2013) looking at over 1,000 brains and discovered similar findings of variation, but in areas of brain activation rather than physiology. They found that none of their participants demonstrated preferential activation in one hemisphere over the other. Yet, there does seem to be evidence of left-handed people having more brain symmetry which would lead to better communication between the right and left sides. This connects well with Dr. Casanova’s work around dyslexics having more connections from one hemisphere of the brain to the other as dyslexics have a greater tendency to be left-handed.

Ideas of phonemic awareness and dyslexia may also spark discussion in the context of this found variation. Is phonemic awareness the root of dyslexia or is it weak neural adaptation (struggle to automatize/rote memorize) (Perrachione, et al., 2016)? Is the weakness for phonemic awareness attached to a weakness in that portion of the brain? Maybe for some. However, for others the issue may be more related to rote memorizing which sounds go with which letters. This is a very challenging task if you struggle to memorize. If we think about the English language, there are 26 letters that look nothing like a sound and then we take some of those letters and put them in a sequence, such as ‘ough’, which in English presents with seven different sounds (ie. through, cough, enough, dough, bough, borough, bought) or if you look at the sound ‘oo’ that has five different spellings (ie. root, ruin, rude, new, through). Retaining the look of a word attached to its pronunciation or meaning is, therefore, an extreme task in rote memorization.

And finally, how does this idea of spectrum fit with those who claim to have both autism and dyslexia? Do these individuals have both narrow and wide brain folds affecting different parts of the brain? Or does their autistic brain physiology present with some dyslexic tendencies with the root really being autism? Or vice versa?

There are many aspects of these profiles left to be discovered and re-examined. However, Dr. Casanova’s research opens the discussion connecting learning patterns with brain physiology allowing us to better understand how different cognitive profiles have a tendency to make neural connections. This will hopefully have an impact on how we can more effectively engage with these students. They both have extreme areas of strength, but the apparent cost is then also extreme areas of weakness. Learning how to support them in their weakness, but more importantly tap into their strengths is crucial for each of these profiles to find success and become the extremely valuable contributors to our society that evolution intended them to be.

Illustrative explanation

In the diagram below, the grey outer lining is representative of the cerebral cortex which is made up of mostly grey matter. The cortex is where we form cognitive and language functions. Underneath the

grey matter is the white matter. The axons, thread-like parts, travel through the white matter area. It is along the axons that our neural impulses travel to connect to other neurons.

This visual interpretation was created by Jennifer Plosz based off information gathered from Manuel Casanova’s work. It is not meant to be a literal rendering, but rather an explanatory one – proportional differences are exaggerated.

Bibliography

Casanova, M. F., Araque, J., Giedd, J., & Rumsey, J. M. (2004). Reduced brain size and gyrification in the brains of dyslexic patients. Journal of Child Neurology, 19(4), 275-281.

Casanova, M. F., Buxhoeveden, D. P., Cohen, M., Switala, A. E., & Roy, E. L. (2002). Minicolumnar pathology in dyslexia. Annals of neurology, 52(1), 108-110.

Casanova, M. F., El-Baz, A. S., Giedd, J., Rumsey, J. M., & Switala, A. E. (2010). Increased white matter gyral depth in dyslexia: implications for corticocortical connectivity. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 40(1), 21-29.

Casanova, M., El-Baz, A., Elnakib, A., Giedd, J., Rumsey, J., Williams, E., & Switala, A. (2010). Corpus callosum shape analysis with application to dyslexia. Translational neuroscience, 1(2), 124-130.

Elnakib, A., Casanova, M. F., Gimelrfarb, G., Switala, A. E., & El-Baz, A. (2012, July). Dyslexia diagnostics by 3-D shape analysis of the corpus callosum. IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine, 16(4), 700-708.

Perrachione, T. K., Del Tufo, S. N., Winter, R. M., Murtagh, J., Cyr, A., Chang, P., . . . Gabrieli, J. D. (2016). Dysfunction of rapid neural adaptation in dyslexia. Neuron, 92(6), 1383-1397.

Williams, E. L., & Casanova, M. (2010). Autism and dyslexia: A spectrum of cognitive styles as defined by minicolumnar morphometry. Medical Hypotheses, 74, 59-62.

Williams, E. L., El-Baz, A., Nitzken, M., Switala, A. E., & Casanova, M. (2012, March). Spherical harmonic analysis of cortical complexity in autism and dyslexia. Translational Neuroscience, 3(1), 36-40.

Holiday Volunteering

The College’s December Theme is: Donate, Engage and Enjoy! To spread happiness around the city, a group of  scholars volunteered at Inn from the Cold and Stephen’s Backpacks.

For more information about these charities please visit:
https://innfromthecold.org/
http://www.stephensbackpacks.com/

Graduate College – Scholars

Jason Abboud; Canadian, Calgary; BSc. in Microbiology and Nanoscience, BSc. in Geology, currently an MSc student in Geoscience/Civil Engineering. Jason plans and hosts regular HydroTalks talks in the Geoscience where industry and government professionals share their stories and lessons of work in water. He also hosts water networking events in Calgary called Blue Drinks. He likes being a generalist and wants to continue to work in water-related fields, on large scale projects, such as environmental impact assessments and international groundwater work. He plans within the College include connecting with more individuals and connecting The College to a greater Calgary community, where possible!

              

 

Mohamed Abdelsamie

 

 

 

Mohamed Ahmed is a Ph.D. candidate at the Geography Dept. focusing on the air-sea CO2 exchange in the Canadian Arctic. Mohamed originally from Egypt and he is a second-year scholar in the College. He got his B.Sc. in Geology from Egypt and his M.Sc. in Geomatics in Sweden. At present, Mohamed serving as the director of the finance committee for 2017/2018 and as the VP student life in the geography students association.  Mohamed enjoys outdoor activities and would like to connect with all scholars and contribute with all scholars in moving the graduate college one step ahead.


Art Assoiants

 

Jesse Baker


Viraji Bandara

 

Simon Barrick is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Kinesiology. Originally from Southern Ontario, Simon’s current research explores the role that winter sport participation plays in the lives of newcomers to Canada. Simon’s aim is to enrich and empower his community through service and community-engaged qualitative research. Simon has been active in the development of The College’s structure and events, with a current focus on developing a mentorship program involving local Syrian newcomers.


Tiffany Beks
Caroline Beninger (Benny), an MSc student in Veterinary Medical Sciences studying digital dermatitis affecting Alberta dairy cattle. Previously, she received an Emergency Medical Responder certificate from SAIT and a BSc in Biological Sciences with great distinction and an honour’s thesis in antibiotic resistance from the University of Lethbridge. Her goal is to become a production animal veterinarian and volunteer her skills with Vets without Boarders to improve human and animal welfare on a global scale. Outside of The College, Caroline has volunteered with Alberta Spay and Neuter Task Force for nearly 3 years providing veterinary services to First Nations communities with limited veterinary access. As an external committee member, Caroline would like to continue working at the intersection between human and animal health and welfare. Engaging students of all disciplines in the One Health model of health and bridging the gap between farm and consumers is her goal.

     

 

Amanda Black

Claire (Jiayi) Cao. Chinese-born Canadian, grew up in Colorado; BSc in Biochemistry / Mathematics from McGill; M. Sc. student in petroleum engineering focusing on the simulation of Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery. Involved in various capacities in communications/external roles (DGA, previously GSA) and in sustainability initiatives outside campus. I hope to become an advocate for sustainability and environmental responsibility in the energy industry. I want to contribute to and learn from the multi-disciplinary, diverse community at the College.

Justin Caouette

Jaclyn Carter is a PhD candidate in the Department of English. Her research focuses on colonial representations of Anglo-Saxon and Norse peoples in literature during and after the Viking raids in England, from the late eighth century onwards. Jaclyn completed her MA at the University of Calgary, also in medieval literary studies, and obtained her BA from Mount Royal University. She is currently active with the College’s Communications Committee.

 

Suzanne Chew

 

Evangelian Collings

Sue Crawford; Calgary-born Canadian; BSc in Zoology, BN in Nursing (Pediatrics), Registered Nurse certification, Master of Nursing Student; Known for my disability advocacy including as the co-founder and CEO of the social enterprise, Enable; I hope to continue as a social entrepreneur, representing the rights and meeting the needs of vulnerable populations; I want to contribute to the impressive expertise at the College to create our own community and strengthen the larger community.

          

 

Kori Czuy

Zaheed Damani
Leanne Dawson; Canadian; born and raised in Calgary, BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Calgary; MSc in Electrical Engineering – specialization in Energy and Environment – from the University of Calgary, currently doing a PhD in the same area as my MSc; working on investigating the impact of weather conditions on power line capacity; besides academics, I spend most of my time volunteering with different university committees, leading school outreach programs in STEM and organizing leadership workshops for female graduate students; My goal for the College this year is to provide opportunities for the scholars to connect and grow as a community.

AnneMarie Dorland; Canadian, Edmonton; Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication Design), University of Alberta. Master of Arts, Communication and Media Studies, Concordia University. Currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication, Media, and Film at the University of Calgary. Her goals in life are to act as a catalyst for insight, creativity and innovation for the students, organizations and communities that she serves. She hopes to connect the work done by scholars at the College in new and unique ways and to contribute to the larger efforts of the team here.

      

Doug Doyle Baker
Maede Ejaredar

 

Eliana El Khoury

Alejandra Enriquez is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Chemistry. Originally from Spain, where she did her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Chemistry, Alejandra is currently investigating the role of rhodium-based anticancer drugs and their interaction with biomolecules to understand their stability and efficiency. Apart from academics, Alejandra has volunteered in different committees on campus and her goals are to travel and experience the world while contributing to build a better society.

     

Yangyang Fang; Dutch, hometown Xi’an (China); Background in psychology and art therapy, currently doing a PhD in Community Health Sciences (specializing in community rehabilitation and disability studies). She co-chairs her department DGA and represents graduate students on various different committees including the College of Discovery, Creativity and Innovation. Yangyang volunteers in the community with TEDxCalgary and Dubasov Dance and Wellness and is known in Tuscany as an avid walking-partner to her dog Harvey. Her goals in life are to travel the world and help build community wherever she is! As part of The College, she hopes to gain and share cross-cultural experiences and inter-disciplinary knowledge.

          

 

Cristina Fernandez Conde


Amy Fulton

 

Gary Gress

Brian Hanley is a PhD Candidate in Philosophy. Brian is from Massachusetts and received is undergraduate from Boston University where he studied Philosophy and Physics. Brian’s philosophical interests focusses on scientific knowledge, and how scientists and engineers use knowledge of cause and effect to investigate the world and make design decisions. Brian joined the College in order to learn and engage with conceptual issues outside philosophy. My time in the College has already worked to steer my dissertation research toward engineering. Brian just taught his first philosophy course and loved it.

Melanie Hazlett is a Postdoctoral Associate from Toronto; B.A.Sc. Honours Chemical Engineering Co-op Program from the University of Waterloo, Ph.D. Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston.  She enjoys engaging in STEM and music outreach, believing musicianship and success in technical programs are linked; she hopes to bring this passion to the College.

   

Ana Karinna Hidalgo, Canada Permanent Resident, originally from Ecuador. BA in Design (graphics, product and environmental design), and Master of Higher Education and Educational Research from the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.  Master of Planning, currently PhD candidate in Environmental Design, both from University of Calgary. My research focuses on finding evidence on how to design urban streets for winter cities that improve people’s mental health. In addition to my academic life as graduate student and former professor, I have been volunteering as a mentor for international students and new students at my own department, as an instructor at the Taylor Institute, as a conference organizer, and as an elementary school support. I would like to create strong connections between the spouses/children of international students and the University/Calgary.

       

Oliver Terna Iorhemen is originally from Nigeria. He did his B.Eng in Water Resources & Environmental Engineering at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria – Nigeria. He also holds an MSc(Eng) in Environmental Engineering & Project Management from the University of Leeds, UK. Oliver has strong passion for research on emerging water and wastewater treatment technologies, rural water supply and sanitation, and sustainable solid waste management. He is currently a PhD candidate in Environmental Engineering at the University of Calgary. His doctoral research is on the integration of aerobic granular sludge and membrane filtration technologies to develop the aerobic granular sludge membrane bioreactor (AGMBR) for sustainable wastewater treatment and reclamation. His goal in life is to strive to provide opportunities, motivation, vision and a role model to those who may not otherwise receive these. To this end, he believes in the power of leadership which has driven his continuous involvement with community organizations and academic associations. Oliver joined The College in September 2017 where he hopes to bring his developed research and leadership skills to bear. In addition, he would like to take the opportunity to learn from the multidisciplinary environment The College provides.

   

Mohsen Janmaleki
Sultan Khetani

 

Michelle Klaben

Jonathon Lee
Seungwon “Frank” Lee; Korean-Canadian born in Seoul; Education Background: BMSc at Western University, MPH in infectious diseases at UC Berkeley, currently doing PhD in Healthcare Epidemiology at UofC; Research focus is on generating data-to-action evidences to inform high level prevention strategies in public health. Currently a research associate with AHS Infection Control. Previously affiliated organizations include Western Occupational Health, UCSF Medical Center, and Public Health Agency of Canada; contribute to The College’s programs and learn from its multi-disciplinary environment while sharing my own.

 

Chenhua  Li

Marni MacKay

Emily Macphail is a joint MD/MSc. student (specialization: Nutrition, Metabolism, and Genetics) and has a BHSc. (Hon.) from the University of Calgary. Her research is focused on the relationship between zinc, gut microbiota, and obsessive-compulsive disorder in youth. She loves both the clinical and research aspects of medicine and is excited to continue to balance both. Outside of research and medicine, Emily is involved in medical learner wellness initiatives and active in Alberta Health Services citizen and patient engagement committees. She also loves completing and designing crossword puzzles (especially cryptics).

 

Tatum Mitra

Kenryo Mizutani  is a JD candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Calgary. He is originally from Tokyo, Japan and he has spent some years in Germany, USA, and UK among other places. He holds BA (summa cum laude) in Economics and International Relations from Boston University, and MPA (Master of Public Administration) in International Development with Distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has also studied German literature and philosophy at the Free University of Berlin, Germany. Before coming to Calgary, he worked for a natural resources company, first as an analyst in the corporate strategy department, and later as an international petroleum negotiator in the upstream oil & gas department. He hopes to inspire and be inspired by the interaction with the multi-disciplinary perspectives of his fellow Scholars. His hobbies are hiking, snow-shoeing, and learning foreign languages. He holds a black-belt rank in the Japanese martial art of Aikido. 
Viet Quan Nguyen

 

Celso Neto

 

Dimitar Ourdev

 

Glory Ovie

 

Lauretta Pearse

Najratun Pinky is a PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering (Medical Imaging) at University of Calgary. She is working to develop neuroimaging (MRI) biomarker for sport related concussion in youth ice hockey players. She is highly interested in brain imaging research. Originally from Bangladesh, Pinky did her BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineerging from BUET, Bangladesh and worked for a short time in telecom industry as specialist engineer.  She then did MSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering with major in Digital Image and Signal Processing from University of Manchester, UK before moving to Canada. Pinky has been involved with the college since its very start and likes the opportunity to gain experience in such a multidisciplinary environment.

 

Roya Pishgar

Jennifer Plosz

Jason Ribeiro; Canadian, Hamilton, ON; Honours B.A. (History & Religious Studies), McMaster University; B.Ed. (Intermediate/Senior), York University; M.Ed. (Administration and Leadership in Education), Brock University. Currently a Ph.D. student and SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Scholar in the Werklund School of Education (Leadership, Policy & Governance). Highly involved in issues of policy, governance, and politics in Calgary – most recently serving as a Policy Advisor to the Campaign to Re-elect Naheed Nenshi for Mayor. His goals in life are to build a life centred around speaking to issues that matter to people and bringing diverse stakeholders together to create sustainable change. As a member of the College, he hopes to expand the reach of the College beyond the university and into the broader community.

      

Tauseef Rose

Susanne Schmid, an international PhD student in the biomedical imaging program, focuses on the development of MR imaging technologies. Before arriving in Calgary, she graduated with a B.Sc and M.Sc in Physics from the LMU in Munich, Germany.  She is currently active in the College’s communication committee with the vision to spread the word and represent the College’s diversity and commitment to the broader community.

 

Natalie Scime

Donghyun Seo

 

Maclean Thiessen

Eva Umeozor

 

Luis Virla Alvarado

Andrew Vorhies is from Pleasant City, Ohio. He completed his BS in business management from the University of Maryland and his MBA from Columbia Southern University. Andrew is currently pursuing an MA in curriculum and learning from the Werklund School of Education. Outside of the classroom, Andrew enjoys coaching basketball.

 

 

Michael Webster

Taylor Woo MSc ‘17, is currently a medical student at the Cumming School of Medicine. As a recent graduate from the MSc program at the University of Calgary, his research involves characterizing the lung microbiome and natural history of infections in patients with chronic respiratory diseases. He is an active leader on and off campus and is passionate about mentorship, community engagement, and addressing the problem of social isolation amongst vulnerable populations. Participating in the Graduate College in various leadership capacities since it’s inception, Taylor aims to further the impact of the Graduate College within the Calgary community.

Shuyin Yu is a M.A. student in the Department of English. She completed her Hon. B.A. at the University of Toronto in 2017. She is interested in Asian North American Literature (specifically Chinese Canadian Literature) and is planning a capstone focusing on cross-generational differences in young adult literature. She is currently active in the Finances Subcommittee and is interested in fundraising and charity work that benefit the community at large.

Speaker Series 1 – Patrick Finn

November 14, 2017 – Patrick Finn

Critical Condiction:Replacing Critical Thinking with Creativity

 

Patrick Finn, author of “Critical Condition: Replacing Critical Thinking with Creativity”, on what a paradigm shift in university education looks like, evolving from combative critical thinking to infinitely more complex and collaborative networks of non-linear creative thinking. Patrick is an inspirational, well-loved teacher filled with passion for his craft. He serves as the Chair of Research and Innovation at the Edmonton Digital Arts College and is an Associate Professor at the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.

About the speaker

Dr. Patrick Finn is an Associate Professor in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary. He has degrees from McGill, the University of Calgary and the University of Victoria. His primary interest is in performance with an emphasis on technology. He researches and teaches on creativity, performance and related areas and has lectured and led workshops throughout the globe. At one time or another he has been a professional writer, programmer, designer, musician and academic.

TEDx Talk of Patrick Finn: Loving Communication

Beakerhead 2017 – Rings of Reconciliation

Curiosity Questions

  • What has happened to Indigenous people, and what are its effects, to all people, today?
  • Go to http://reconciliationcanada.ca/back-pocket-plan/ to download and create your own your own Back Pocket Reconciliation Action Plan.

Makers and Making

  • Rings of Reconciliation is an interactive art piece created by Kori Czuy and Chantal Chagnon, with assistance from multiple engineers, youth groups, students, and volunteers
  • Kori, a Métis from Northern Alberta, is currently a PhD student at the University of Calgary studying how math can be experienced through Treaty 7 ways of knowing. Her intent is to bring hope, dialogue, and friendship between different ways of knowing through art and interaction. Chantal is a Cree/Ojibwe/Métis artist and activist. She shares traditional teachings, songs, and stories to create bridges of understanding and healing in the face of adversity.
  • The Rings of Reconciliation installation was created using a variety of applications including traditional materials, such as weavings created with hide, and modern materials, such as 3-D printing and electroluminescent wire lighting, along with recycled materials.
  • Rings of Reconciliation symbolize the circle of life, the intertwining stories of the dreamcatcher and the four directions, and an overarching message of hope towards reconciliation.
  • At Beakernight, Elders Reg Crowshoe and Casey Eagle Speaker will tell stories of the land we are on (Mohkinstsis- the meeting of the Bow River and the Elbow River), teachings of the medicine wheel, and the hope and reconciliation behind the “end of trail” symbol. Then the Ojibwe dreamcatcher story will be told by Chantal Chagnon
  • Visitors are invited to interact with the installation by writing down their interpretation of reconciliation and how they will follow through with those intentions in their everyday lives. These writings will be attached to the bottom of the piece, like the feathers of a dreamcatcher.

Truth and Reconciliation

  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission honours the history and culture of Indigenous people of Canada that was forcefully removed by residential schools, with the hopes for the creation of respectful relationships between all peoples in the future
  • For over 100 years, an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were removed from their families and sent to government-funded, church-run institutional schools, sometimes hundreds of miles from their home.
  • The last residential school closed in 1996.
  • The experience has left a legacy of unresolved trauma passed from generation to generation, and has had a profound negative effect on the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians.
  • The intent of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is to guide a process of reconciliation through renewed relationships created through mutual understanding and respect.
  • Rings of Reconciliation will share this land’s Indigenous history and culture through collaboration, art, music, food, and Elder storytelling.

 

Pictures from the Event

 

Documentary showing: Qapirangajuq – Inuit knowledge and climate change (October 2017)

Join us for a relaxed screening of Qapirangajuq: The world’s first Inuktitut language film on
climate change, with spirited discussion (over ice cream) with our experts in the Arctic,
climate change and communication: Dr. Shawn Marshall, professor of Glaciology and
Climatology and Canada Research Chair in Climate Change (2007‐2017), Dr. Chui‐Ling Tam,
resource management expert and Arctic researcher in the Geography Department,
Dr. Mél Hogan from the Communications, Media & Film Department, and more.

Venue: Crowsnest Hall (on‐campus) – Multi‐purpose Room
Date: Tuesday 24th October
Time: 4pm – 5:30pm
Register: http://inuit.peatix.com

Pictures from the event