Rebecca Many Grey Horses, Educator, MA in Jurisprudence in Indian Law
“Taking the Wolf Trail to the Ancestors”
Abstract: Rebecca presents a Blackfoot perspective on death and dying, using Blackfoot legends, stories, and teachings. Blackfoot legends teach about the circle of life, from birth to the afterlife. Stories from warriors and knowledge keepers share the perspective on death and teachings that were practiced and transmitted through generations. The teachings from the ancestors about death include respect, grieving, and understanding the circle of life. With colonization and assimilation, the Blackfoot perspective was discounted, and Christian beliefs were replaced with the old teachings.
Bio: Oki I tsinohtss piyaki (Rebecca Many Grey Horses), is a Blackfoot woman from the Kainai Nation in Southern Alberta. Her traditional Blackfoot teachings and upbringing has given her the skills to educate on Blackfoot perspectives and worldviews. Having a MA in Jurisprudence in Indian Law provides the academic background to consult, educate, and work in many areas. Rebecca loves to teach about Indigenous/ Blackfoot stories, traditions, and perspectives.
Dr. Jennifer Otto, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Religious Studies, ULETH
“Caring for the Sick and Commemorating the Dead with Christians Past and Present”
Abstract: When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last spring, religious groups around the world were confronted with the challenge of adapting their funerary rituals to comply with the demands a public health crisis. This talk investigates the ways that different Christian communities have altered rituals of mourning to pandemic realities, both in centuries past and since March 2020. We’ll begin by reviewing two formative historical examples, the Plague of Cyprian that ravaged the city of Carthage in the 3rd century, and the 16th century bubonic plague outbreak in Wittenberg, Germany, and see how the memory of these past plagues has informed Christian responses to COVID-19. We’ll then explore a range of ways in which Christians have adapted their traditional rituals in order to commemorate the dead and support the grieving in an era of social distancing.
Bio: Jennifer Otto (PhD, McGill) joined the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Lethbridge in 2018. Her research and teaching explore ways that Christians remember and retell stories about their past, and how these memories and retellings shape their self-understanding in the present. She is the author of Philo of Alexandria and the Construction of Jewishness in Early Christian Writings (OUP, 2018). Her current research project, "Remembering Anabaptist Martyrs", investigates the reception and representation of early Christian martyrs among Anabaptists in the 16th century and in the present day. The project is funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant.
Mia van Leeuwen, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Fine Arts, Drama
“How to Raise a Ghost: Memento Mori as Contemporary Praxis”
Abstract: How to Raise a Ghost is a tentacular project that explores arts-based research as a mode of inquiry into the vast subject of death. The work engages in death studies research, collaborative artistic practice (performance, ritual, movement, photography, video), play, contemplation, creative writing, and interviews with a variety of artists about their relationship to death. The work is participating in a significant artistic and cultural movement to explore art-making that is death-facing. This excavation is rooted in the ancient practice of memento mori (Latin for remember you must die); played through a contemporary and secular praxis.
Bio: Mia practices the body of performance to explore wide-ranging themes (fandom, whiteness, death, religion, pop culture) – while playfully blurring the lines between theatre and visual art. Queering, juxtaposing, unsettling, disturbing, re-mixing, winking, collaborating, baring process, and making strange are some of the actions that inform the devising of her various projects. Mia’s recent ventures include Sapientia (Montreal 2019, Lethbridge 2018, Winnipeg 2015), Destroy She Said (Winnipeg 2018), Postcolonial Postcards (Dalnavert Museum, Winnipeg 2017), and White Bread (Edmonton 2016 and Antwerp, Munich, Innsbruck, Belgrade, 2014). Her object theatre adaptation of Sapientia – a martyr play written in the 10th century by history’s first (known) female playwright Hrotsvitha of Gandershiem, won two 2018 METAs (Montreal English Theatre Awards) for Outstanding Independent Production and Outstanding Contribution to Theatre (produced by Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre, Montreal).