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Queen’s professor receives award from Women in Mining Canada

Queen's professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering named the 2019 winner of the Rick Hutson Mentorship Award.
Heather Jamieson, a professor and researcher in the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, is the 2019 winner of Women in Mining Canada's Rick Hutson Mentorship Award. (Supplied Photo)

Heather Jamieson, a professor and researcher in the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, has been named the 2019 Rick Hutson Mentorship Award winner from Women in Mining Canada (WIMC).

This award is being presented to Dr. Jamieson in recognition of the role she has played in mentoring, supporting and guiding young women in their studies and in taking their first steps, and then beyond that, in helping them to manoeuvre in the early days of their mining careers. 

An outpouring of letters of support from Dr. Jamieson’s students, both past and present, solidified her candidacy for this award and speaks to the impact that she has had on these women and countless others in their careers. 

A critical part of Dr. Jamieson’s career has been sharing her enthusiasm for environmental geochemistry with students, introducing them to fieldwork at mine sites, and exposing them to the complex issues affecting communities in the Canadian North.

“During the first summer that I worked as a geological field assistant (at age 17), I met two female geologists who were truly inspirational pioneers. I was also taught at Queen’s by Dr. Mabel Corlett, one of the first tenured women professors of geology in Canada,” Dr. Jamieson says. “It was pretty unusual for women to be in the field of geology and mining in the 1970s, and there was some resistance to sending women to remote mines or field camps. Over the years things have improved but there are still challenges. I have supervised more than 50 graduate students, about half of them women, and I have been delighted to watch them progress in their careers since leaving Queen’s.”

Women in Mining Canada identifies the three pillars of its organization as: “Educate, Empower and Elevate.” Dr. Jamieson has certainly been a model for these pillars. She believes that teaching and supervising includes respect for a good work-life balance, and translates this to all of her students. 

Of the more than 50 graduate students that Dr. Jamieson has supervised, all have found professional employment shortly after graduation with mining companies, environmental consultants, or as government regulators. 

It is also worth noting that the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering consists of 50 per cent female faculty members, one of the highest of any geological program in Canada. This ratio is similar for undergraduate and graduate students in the department, as well. Dr. Jamieson has played a significant role in achieving this ratio, and has been a strong mentor and influence on young women entering the mining industry for decades. 

This award was presented to Dr. Jamieson during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual convention. Women in Mining Canada hosted an event at the convention on Tuesday, March 5 to celebrate all of their Trailblazer Award Winners, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. 

Further information about the Rick Hutson Mentorship Award and the WIMC awards presentation can be found on the Women in Mining Canada website.

National recognition for computing trailblazer

In the field of computing, efficiency and effectiveness are key. Researchers are continuously searching for solutions to the computational challenges that come with processing massive amounts of data in a timely fashion.  Selim Akl, professor in the School of Computing and a pioneer of parallel computation, has garnered worldwide recognition for his success in finding efficient and improved solutions to this issue. Recently, Dr. Akl was recognized by CS-Can/Info-Can, the national computer science academic organization, with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding and sustained contributions to the field.

[Selim Akl]
The School of Computing's Selim Akl has been recognized by CS-Can/Info-Can, the national computer science academic organization, with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding and sustained contributions to the field.

“It’s a huge honour and I owe a lot to my colleagues in the School of Computing and to my students. They really are inspiring,” Dr. Akl says. “Queen’s is a special place because it gives you unfettered freedom to follow your research interests.”

Dr. Akl felt this sense of autonomy in pursing his research program when he began his career at Queen’s in 1978. Parallel computation involves the use of several computers to solve a problem simultaneously, a concept which was introduced through Dr. Akl’s book Parallel Sorting Algorithms in 1985.The work was the first of its kind in this area of specialization, allowing Dr. Akl to become a pioneer in the field.  

“There are real-life situations that necessitate the use of a specific number of computers and if you have one less, you cannot solve the problem,” he says. “The big weather centres use massive parallel processors to give us up-to-the-minute updates on the weather but sometimes they are not even enough because if a storm decides to hit and you hadn’t predicted it in enough time to warn people, it would be too late.”  

 Dr. Akl has used parallel computation as the core foundation of his research program while branching out into other areas of computing, including computational geometry and cryptography, in which his work on security in hierarchical organizations remains state-of-the-art. He also explored biomedical computing, developing algorithmic techniques to analyze electrocardiograms for better diagnosis and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. In recent years, he has been studying computational processes in nature and more generally, unconventional computation. In 2009, he originated the idea of quantum chess.

“Dr. Akl’s research contributions span many facets of computing that influence virtually every aspect of daily life,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).  “The lifetime achievement award is a fitting recognition of his leadership and continued impact on the field internationally.”

As the Queen’s School of Computing celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Dr. Akl’s colleagues and collaborators are thrilled to celebrate this significant milestone in his career.

“I would like to dedicate this award to the School of Computing as it’s been a wonderful home for me,” Dr. Akl says. “If you have a good working environment, then you have no complaints.”

Dr. Akl will be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual CS-Can/Info Can meeting at McGill University on June 3.  

Decolonizing Canada’s national game

Indigenous Hockey Research Network looks at hockey as a vehicle for reconciliation.

IHRN members at a pick-up game of hockey during the visioning gathering at Queen's University.
Indigenous Hockey Research Network members pause during their "visioning gathering" at Queen's for a pick-up game at the Leon's Centre in Kingston.

One of the first things that comes to mind when people think about Canada is ice hockey. For many Canadians, the sport is deeply linked to perceptions of national identity, and hockey stories help explain who they are and where they belong. But where do Indigenous peoples fit in these narratives about what it means to be truly Canadian? Queen’s University researcher, Sam McKegney, helped create the Indigenous Hockey Research Network (IHRN) with hopes of illuminating, complicating, and developing how we view our national pastime.

“Given its popularity, we see hockey as a potential meeting place for community building and Indigenous empowerment,” says Dr. McKegney, who received a $305,000 Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in 2018 to conduct the IHRN’s work. “Understanding our shared and contrary experiences within the context of the sport could also shed light on a potential vehicle for the ongoing pursuit of reconciliation in our country.”

Through archival research, personal interviews, data analysis, and Indigenous community-led approaches, Dr. McKegney’s team looks to uncover and engage with the sport’s Indigenous past, present, and future to understand its role in relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

Hockey occupies a complicated space between Indigenous self-determination and ongoing settler colonialism in Canada, as in the past it served both oppressive and liberating roles for Indigenous people. According to Dr. McKegney, the sport was employed in residential schools and elsewhere as a tool of “colonial social engineering” designed to encourage Indigenous youth to shed connections with their traditional cultural values and enforce new, prescriptive identity formations. Conversely, many survivors of residential schools claim playing the game helped them endure the trauma of those years.

"This duality in hockey’s history could present a means through which to support Indigenous sovereignty, community well-being, and gender equality,” he says, “as well as to promote settler understanding of colonial history and potential pathways toward righting injustice. ”

From Friday, March 1 to Saturday, March 2, Dr. McKegney hosted 15 IHRN scholars and graduate students at the Queen’s Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts for a “visioning gathering”. These experts in sport history, sociology, gender theory, narrative studies, and filmmaking, together with Indigenous and non-Indigenous community advisors, worked to hone the research objectives and methodologies of the multi-year project.

“There was so much knowledge and experience present at the gathering in Kingston. To have that focus and attention on our work makes our projects that much stronger,” says Janice Forsyth, IHRN member and director of the First Nations Studies program at Western University. “The network is and will be an important site for us to share information, and to test and refine our ideas and analysis, as well as a critical source of support for the graduate student members, who now have a well-defined research community to rely on for assistance and feedback.”

Vision gathering participants also took time to develop skills and expertise necessary to best share their future findings, during a daylong series of workshops facilitated by Abenaki filmmaker Kim O’bomsawin. The IHRN team aims to produce a documentary film on the project as work progresses over the next five years.

In keeping with the project’s aim to promote community building, the vision gathering participants bonded further over a pick-up hockey game at the Leon’s Centre on the evening of March 1.

“Research on Indigenous hockey is really important because if we’re able to figure out the keys to positive experiences and skills and passions that last a lifetime, then that’s great,” says Mike Auksi, Ojibway/Estonian international and University of Toronto/Ryerson varsity hockey player. “On the other end of that, if we can figure out what’s leading to negative experiences or leading people to stop playing the game, then we may have a small part to play in improving that as well.”

Learn more about Dr. McKegney’s research project: “Decolonizing Sport: Indigeneity, Hockey, and Canadian Nationalism”.

Planning an international experience

The International Planning Project course provides SURP students with an experiential learning opportunity in India.

  • Group discussion with Village Elders from Edayanchavadi regarding tourism impacts and their community
    School of Urban and Regional Planning students hold a group discussion with village elders from Edayanchavadi regarding tourism impacts and their community. (Supplied Photo)
  • Students work an information kiosk
    International Planning Course team members work at an information kiosk located at the Visitors Centre in Auroville, India. (Supplied Photo)
  • Team picture at the Matrimandir
    The School of Urban and Regional Planning team members for the International Planning Course gather at the Matrimandir in the Indian city of Auroville. (Supplied Photo)

Adaptability and flexibility, preparation and communication, stress management and staying in the moment.

A group of students from the School of Urban and Regional Planning who recently took part in the International Planning Project course (SURP 827) gained a world of experience and learned valuable lessons as they traveled to India for two weeks to create a project report of professional quality for the community of Auroville.

The course is a collaborative challenge that tests the students’ resilience and abilities, but, at the same time, provides an opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge as they look to their future careers as planners.

“Project wise, in general, it’s nice to actually get the experience working for a client. You have a strict deadline that you have to meet and then you are also challenging yourself because you have traveled to get there and you’re maybe a bit jetlagged,” says Carling Fraser, one of the eight members of the Queen’s team. “It’s a totally different environment that you are not used to. It was a real experience and there’s another layer to it when you are in a different cultural environment and you are still expected to keep to your deadlines and adapt pretty quickly.”

Preparations are key for the planning course.

Starting in September, the student team, which this year happened to be entirely female, had 12 weeks to conduct advance research, collect information, and make initial contacts before heading to India in early December.

The team then had two weeks to gather information and develop a tourism management plan to be presented both in Auroville and back at Queen’s.

Arriving after a 30-hour flight and a three-hour drive, the team quickly got to work on the first day. The first week is primarily filled with gathering information on the ground, analyzing, and making adjustments before preparing the report and making the final presentation.

It’s a whirlwind of activity and no one can do it alone. Some of the major tools that come out of the experience, says project manager Natalie Armstrong, are teamwork, adaptability, and communication skills.

“We are there with each other as a group 24/7 for two weeks. You learn to communicate within your team and the different communication styles of the team members and how to balance those, as well as the strengths and the weaknesses of the team dynamics,” she says. “The project itself is so interdisciplinary. You are talking to so many different individuals that I think learning to communicate with multiple types of people. Not just language barriers but understanding residents with different priorities and competing priorities. So learning how to effectively talk to others and understand their interest behind their position and then working off that.”

With a tight deadline, time management is crucial. Despite the pressure, the team set schedules, learned to alter course when needed, and came through with a final product on time that was well received.

“We were looking at tourism impacts for Auroville as it currently doesn’t have a tourism management plan in place. We quickly found out that the community is conflicted as to what they would like tourism to look like as well as what tourism looks like currently,” Armstrong says. “I think our report did a good job in creating a foundation and a plan as to how the community can go forward. We looked at impacts such as environmental, social, community, and economic and provided some recommendations and implementations for how they can manage these impacts going forward.”

Now in its seventh year, the International Planning Project course, led by SURP Professor Ajay Agarwal, provides a real-world and international experience.

This opportunity to step outside of North America is a key element for the school and continues to attract students to Queen’s.

“Personally, when I was looking to come to grad school I was looking for an international experience,” says Armstrong. “I didn’t participate in one in my undergrad so it was something that I was seeking. It definitely was something of interest from when I was applying to schools because I wanted to have that unique experience that sets you apart when you are done school. I feel like at the end of the day you all graduate from the program but something like this kind of sets you apart.”

For more information about the course or to obtain a copy of the full project report, contact Dr. Agarwal.

Helping first-year students find their major

Majors Night is an opportunity for first-year students at the Faculty of Arts and Science to learn about the programs that Queen’s offers to help them make an informed decision about their prospective major.

This year’s event will be held on Thursday, Feb. 28 from 4-7 pm in Kingston Hall.

[Students find information on Majors Night]
During the annual Majors Night, peers from each of the Departmental Student Councils (DSC) in the Faculty of Arts and Science are available to answer questions about their experiences within their specific programs. (University Communications)

“Majors night is a wonderful opportunity for first-year students to get advice from peers and professional staff about their academic options and where they could lead,” says Cathy Keates, Director of Career Services. “Choosing a program is a big decision for students and it’s important that they are given all of the opportunities and tools to make an informed choice.”

Peers from each of the faculty’s Departmental Student Councils (DSC) will be available at individual booths to answer questions about their experiences within their specific programs. Students will also be able to compare the different programs they’re considering and explore which options fit best with their interests and academic goals.

Staff from Career Services, and the faculty’s Academic Advising, as well as members of the faculty’s Peer Academic Support Service (PASS), will also be present to answer specific questions about choosing a program and where to find career resources at Queen’s.

“Majors Night was one of the main highlights for me at Queen’s,” says Mariam Atnasious, a second-year psychology student. “Second semester was extremely stressful with finding a house and picking a major. The peer-to-peer interaction at Majors Night provided me with detailed information for each individual major/minor/specialization that Queen’s has to offer. I personally loved the event as it was the reason I went into psychology.”

Information sessions regarding internships, exchange opportunities, degree certificates and more will be held during the event in the Reflection Room in Kingston Hall. Students can sign up for these sessions through MyCareer.

Majors Night is a partnership between Career Services, the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS), the Arts and Science Departmental Student Councils, and the Faculty of Arts and Science.

For more information about the event, visit the Career Services website.

Keeping her Olympic dreams alive

Through the RBC Training Ground program, Queen's student and volleyball player Jacklynn Boyle now finds herself pursuing her dreams on the cycling track.

A year ago, Jacklynn Boyle was a third-year life sciences student at Queen’s and an outside hitter on the Gaels women’s volleyball team.

Then she took part in the RBC Training Ground program.

[Jacklynn Boyle tests in the power jump during RBC Training Ground]
Jacklynn Boyle tests in the power jump at the RBC Training Ground event in Toronto. (Photo by Kevin Light)

Today she is a member of the Canadian national cycling team and was also recruited by the national women’s bobsled team.

It has been a whirlwind 12 months, and, perhaps most importantly, she’s still on track to graduate in April.

RBC Training Ground is a series of cross-Canada athletic search events designed to bring undiscovered talent into the Canadian Olympic pipeline, while at the same time helping athletes take the next step. In the first stage of the program, athletes between the ages of 14 and 25 are tested for speed, power, strength, and endurance at free events. Identified athletes are then recruited for a sport that suits their abilities and, if successful, can receive funding support from RBC.

Boyle's results were so strong, particularly in the explosive power tests, that she was recruited by officials from both Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton and Cycling Canada.

“It’s kind of crazy that a year ago I was still playing volleyball and was planning to go to medical school – which I still hopefully will do in the future,” she says. “The RBC program is absolutely amazing for finding people who have athletic ability and seeing if they can transfer it into another sport. It’s amazing. I have always wanted to go to the Olympics for something. The coaches are so talented for picking out a person. In bobsled and cycling they only saw me do 10 tests and met with me once before asking me to try out. It’s crazy that they were able to decipher which athletes have ability and which ones they think can transfer.”

Following the first tryout at Queen’s last March Boyle advanced to the provincial event in Toronto. She then traveled to Calgary for two separate bobsleigh training sessions at the Ice House.  She also visited Milton, west of Toronto, and trained on the velodrome track for Cycling Canada. At both events, she once again impressed.

But she couldn’t pursue both sports. She had to make a choice.

In the end it was the opportunity to complete her studies and graduate that helped her decide to hop on the bike instead of in the bobsleigh.

It has been hectic mixing studies and training but she is feeling positive about her prospects on both fronts.

“Basically all summer and into September I was studying for my MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) but I was also going to Calgary or to Milton for the tryouts,” she says. “It was a lot and it was very busy but it also felt so surreal that they put me in a bobsled and they put me onto the velodrome track without a lot of preparation. They kind of just wanted to see how I could adapt.”

Not only did she adapt, she excelled. RBC recently announced that Boyle is one of 30 athletes from the original 3,182 tested, who will receive funding to pursue her Olympic dream.

Once her studies are complete this April, Boyle will relocate to Milton where she will join Cycling Canada's elite development program.

“They’ve already put me on a workout program and I have a bike and rollers and everything so I am getting the gist of cycling but starting in April I will be training full time,” she says. “My goal, I know there are a lot of steps before the Olympics, but I really hope to compete at the World Cup level this year.”

She is thankful for her support from her family – it was her mom who signed her up for RBC Training Ground – as well as from Queen’s University. Along with being allowed to take the time for the tryouts by volleyball head coach Ryan Ratushniak, she is now working with Athletics and Recreation’s strength and conditioning team to keep her in top shape and be ready for when she starts her ride to the Olympics.

Visit the RBC Training Ground website for more information, including local event information and the complete 2019 calendar.

New summer studies offered at the BISC

[Bader International Study Centre]
Through Castle Summer+, undergraduate students at Queen’s can take part in a six-week study abroad program at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England. (Supplied photo)

Applications are now open for Castle Summer+, a six-week study abroad program at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). 

Undergraduate students in their second through final years are invited to live and study at Herstmonceux Castle in southern England from May 3 to June 15. 

With smaller class sizes and the opportunity to do primary research in their chosen major, Castle Summer+ prepares students for graduate school and offers workshops and learning opportunities that are different from any other study abroad program.

“The academic experience at the BISC is anchored by the belief that there’s nothing better than learning by doing,” says Christian Lloyd, Academic Director at the BISC. “Our Experiential Learning Opportunities and Career-Ready workshops encourage our students to develop the skills they need to succeed through active participation and personal contact with primary sources, outside of a traditional classroom environment.”

Unlike other programs offered through Queen’s, Castle Summer+ brings independent research in the humanities and social sciences to the forefront. The university is committed to advancing global research collaborations, and the interdisciplinary approach of this new program hopes to facilitate international co-operation and student success within these fields. 

Students complete 9.0 units during the Castle Summer+ program, meaning this is a tremendous opportunity for upper year students to have an international experience and build their resumes and networks while staying on track for graduation. Students will also be able to apply the skills they learn over the summer to their studies at Queen’s.

The summer program includes a four-day trip to London, which allows students to travel and immerse themselves in British culture and history, as well as conduct research in world-class museums and institutions

“The Castle experience is a perfect blend of adventure and academics,” says Nick Isaacs (ArtSci’22), a former BISC student. “You really are given every opportunity to grow as you participate in classes taught by amazing professors during the week and get to explore the world on the weekends.”

BISC at 25

This summer the BISC is also celebrating its 25th anniversary. Celebrations will be held over Canada Day weekend and will include poutine, street hockey and the official opening of the new on campus Science and Innovation Laboratory. Starting in Fall 2019, this state of the art facility will allow the BISC to offer a variety of STEM courses. 

For more information about Castle Summer+ and the 25th anniversary celebrations, visit the BISC website.

Applications for the Castle Summer+ program are due by April 1.

Together We Are: Studying the past to dream our future

[Together We Are]

In this piece for the Together We Are blog, Adnan Husain, a professor in the Department of History, talks about using education to combat stereotypes, and he explains how universities provide us with the opportunity of learning from the past to build a better future.

As a historian, my reflex is to look to the past to analyze contemporary conditions and understand recent experiences. When I first began to study medieval European and Middle Eastern/Islamic History as a university student, I did not imagine that my preoccupations with how religious identities were formed through the interrelationships between Muslims, Christians and Jews in the pre-modern world would seem so relevant to so many others. My interests at the time developed from a more personal perspective as a Muslim from a religiously observant family raised in North America. I was seeking historical grounding for what seemed an eccentric problem – being what one scholar would later term a “Western Muslim.” My exploration of inter-religious interaction was meant to satisfy an internal dialogue about identity and its diverse sources and to discover ways to integrate and reconcile disparate influences of my heritage and formation.

[Adnan Husain]
Professor Adnan Husain, Department of History

It soon became clear that much more could be at stake than my own individual curiosity and exploration, even in such a remote and apparently distant past that initially seemed an antiquarian escape from modern relevance. But I discovered that so little of the surprising intellectual, humanistic and scientific achievements of pre-modern Islamic societies were generally appreciated or their profound contributions to Europe even commonly acknowledged. A diverse, complex and interconnected world of commercial, cultural, and intellectual interchange among Christians, Muslims and Jews had flourished around the Mediterranean and even sustained multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies for centuries. These untold stories and forgotten histories of the Medieval Mediterranean world hardly figured in Eurocentric narratives about our past and seemed crucial to me if we were ever to imagine a collective and cosmopolitan future.

Yet, medieval history continued popularly to be represented as entirely divided by narrow religious bigotry, crusading conflict and cultural isolation. And this vision of the past seemed increasingly attractive to extreme ideologues — nationalists and religious fundamentalists alike — emerging at the end of the Cold War. Right at the time I started graduate studies, Samuel Huntington published his infamous article The Clash of Civilizations? which attempted to use this distorted perspective on pre-modern global history to ground a conservative investment in exclusivist identitarian conflicts based on religious and “civilizational” identities.

Since the Gulf War of the early 1990s to our own era of terrorism, interventionist warfare and massive migrations of refugees, studying the historical relationship between “Islam and the West,” as it is typically and crudely formulated, has possessed undeniable relevance and importance. However, approaching the relationships from a skewed set of assumptions like Huntington did leads dangerously towards re-enacting the bigotries of the past in the present and regarding them as natural.

At our campus, our challenge is even more immediate than this. The general absence of curriculum on Muslim societies and diasporas globally affects our intellectual and academic community rather profoundly. In my two history seminars this term — one on the Crusades and another on Muslim, Christian and Jewish in the Medieval Mediterranean world, we examine and discuss together the episodes of conflict or persecution as well as the long periods of coexistence and cooperation that patterned a shared past and allow us to consider and imagine a shared future. Rather more such opportunities are needed in our curriculum and at our campus. Education affords us the chance to critique dangerous misconceptions and to combat the stereotyped fears that fuel Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice. It allows us to reflect on important contemporary issues or share experiences in an environment of genuine inquiry and respectful discourse. These are precious opportunities that universities can provide toward dreaming and, hopefully, building a more equitable future together.

Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts brings top artists to The Isabel

[Jeremy Dutcher]
Jeremy Dutcher, winner of the 2018 Polaris Prize, will be performing at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts during the Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts. (Supplied Photo) 

The inaugural Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts, curated by Queen’s Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts Dylan Robinson, is being hosted at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts from Feb. 12 to March 24.

Supported by the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund, A Bader Philanthropy, the Ka’tarohkwi Festival is an exciting multi-disciplinary blaze of Indigenous creativity at the Isabel celebrating the music, film, dance, multimedia, theatre, visual art, and virtual reality stories from the top Indigenous creators in Canada.

]Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts]
Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts

“ts’áts’eltsel xwoyíwel tel sqwálewel kw’els me xwe’í sq’ó talhlúwep! We gather together to experience this exceptional work by Indigenous artists from near and far,” says Dr. Robinson.  “This festival draws its name from the Huron and Mohawk word for the lands we gather on – Ka’tarohkwi. And as a xwelmexw (Stó:lō) guest here, I am grateful to the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people for their leadership, and for these lands that sustain us and the creative work that is part of the festival.”

The festival includes top artists from across Canada such as such as Jeremy Dutcher, Tanya Tagaq, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Monique Mojica, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Dean Hunt, Digging Roots, Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen, and Tanya Lukin LinklaterThe Festival celebrates the creation of new works, and includes world premieres in the Wani’/Lost and Niiganni-Gichigami. Ontiatarío. Lake Ontario programs.

The festival film series is presented in collaboration with imagineNATIVE film festival and the Department of Film and Media. Filmmakers include Stephen Campanelli with a film inspired by Anishinaabe writer Richard Wagamese, Terril Calder, Jay Cardinal Villenneuve, Asinnajaq, Sean Stiller, Asia Youngman, Caroline Monnet, Zoe Hopkins, and Lisa Jackson.

“These prominent artists demonstrate the vibrancy of Indigenous arts today, and to these artists I say, ‘You have power, you have a voice. Raise your voice to be sure the people hear you,’” says Associate Vice- Principal, Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill).

The Isabel presents the virtual reality installation BIIDAABAN: FIRST LIGHT VR, March 17-25, created by Lisa Jackson, Mathew Borrett, Jam3, and the National Film Board of Canada, and hosts RESURGENT VOICES: Indigenous Oration and Aurality on Sunday, March 24, 4-6 pm where Geraldine King and Beth Piatote explore the sonic impact of Indigenous oration.

The Festival is affiliated with SOUNDINGS: An Exhibition in Five Parts at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, curated by Candice Hopkins and Dylan Robinson, that includes newly-commissioned ‘scores’ by artists including Tania Willard, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Raven Chacon, Cristobal Martinez, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Olivia Whetung, Peter Morin, and Ogimaa Mikana,  and a speakers’ series, entitled “Against Hungry Listening.” The exhibition is accompanied by a specially commissioned book of scores designed by Sebastien Aubin.

“The arts are a powerful voice in our society, and the profound messages from these outstanding Indigenous artists transformative. The Isabel is honoured to collaborate with curator Dylan Robinson and all the artists involved for their originality and creativity in bringing this festival to fruition, as we are to work with the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre, imagineNATIVE, and Queen’s Department of Film and Media as affiliated collaborators,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “We are grateful to our benefactors, the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund, A Bader Philanthropy. This is especially poignant right now, as the late Alfred Bader, a man dedicated to artistic excellence and justice in this world, continues to inspire us forward."

View the Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts schedule or visit The Isabel website.

Festival passes and individual tickets are available through the Isabel Box Office, 613-533-2424 (Monday-Friday, 12:30-4:30 pm), and online at queensu.ca/theisabel.

The Conversation: Get Back – When The Beatles rocked the rooftop

Planned only a few days earlier, the Jan. 30, 1969 rooftop concert by The Beatles was their last. It is fitting the show included Billy Preston who symbolized their global collaborative efforts.

File 20190124 196215 opdvdm.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
John Lennon belts it out during The Beatles’ last concert, Jan. 30, 1969. (You Tube/The Beatles)

On a cold, gusty, grey afternoon half a century ago, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr climbed the five storeys of their office building at 3 Savile Row in central London. They then made their way out onto the roof, where they played an unannounced 42-minute set for friends, employees and office workers who clambered out of windows and onto adjacent roofs. A crowd steadily gathered in the street below.

There was no way of knowing it then, but Thursday, Jan. 30, 1969, turned out to be the last time The Beatles performed together in public.

Accompanying them throughout the impromptu show was the American keyboardist Billy Preston, who had been invited by Harrison to join them in rehearsals a week earlier.

Preston’s spirited playing lifted several of the songs they performed that day on the rooftop. His participation in the concert also demonstrates the ways in which The Beatles repeatedly opened themselves up to diverse creative sources that took them in new directions, and that fired their extraordinary musical and artistic growth.

The weeks preceding the “Rooftop Concert,” as it is now known, had been for the band full of both corrosive hostility and deepening lethargy, in the middle of which Harrison walked out altogether, only to return a few days later.

Yet once the four of them took to the roof and began to play, the strength and warmth of their music quickly turned them into a remarkably tight and still immensely charismatic unit even as the rain clouds and the winds — somehow symbolic — buffeted and chilled them.

They open with two different takes of “Get Back” and they close with the same song, in between which they play “Don’t Let Me Down” and “I’ve Got a Feeling” twice, and “Dig a Pony” and “One After 909” once.

There are shaky, even laughable moments, as Lennon flubs the words on “Don’t Let Me Down,” or Ringo yells “Hold it!” just as the other three launch into the opening riff of “Dig a Pony.” But these miscues only heighten the sense of the uniqueness and unpredictability of the occasion, providing a kind of light relief before the superb quality of their songs, their musicianship and their vocals reassert themselves.

Preston’s piano solo

Yet as compelling as it is to see and hear the four of them playing in public together for the final time, it is also telling to watch for and listen to the 22-year-old Preston, clad in a black leather jacket and tucked in behind McCartney on the left.

Preston was an old friend of The Beatles. He first met them in Hamburg in 1962 when he was a teenager backing up Little Richard, and they were all playing together at the Star Club. “Right from the start, I fell in love with the Beatles,” he later said. “I was probably their first American fan and friend.”

Billy Preston behind McCartney on the left. (You Tube/The Beatles)
Billy Preston behind McCartney on the left. (You Tube/The Beatles)

On the rooftop, Preston made his biggest contribution to “Get Back,” where his electric piano solo highlights the song. Released as a single a few months later, “Get Back” was credited to “The Beatles with Billy Preston,” and went to No. 1 in Britain, Australia, Norway and North America.

Today, in addition to his work with The Beatles and later the Rolling Stones, Preston is probably best remembered as the co-author of the ballad “You Are So Beautiful,” which he released in 1974, the same year that Joe Cocker issued his slower and much better-known version.

Bidding the world goodbye

Preston’s relationship with The Beatles also reveals something fundamental about the band itself. The Beatles always revelled in the new and the untried, and across their career they repurposed highly disparate influences with astonishing energy and inventiveness. Rooted in the north of England, they were shaped in Germany and deeply indebted to Black American music.

Once they hit the big time, the pattern deepened as they transcended, ignored and dismantled cultural and social boundaries in the glare of global attention.

They were a western band fascinated by the East. They were the most popular mainstream band in the world even as they embraced the counter-cultural, the experimental and the avant-garde. This open and avid pursuit of innovation and reinvention enabled The Beatles to transform popular culture and modern music, and to imbue both with previously unmatched vitality and variety.

Inviting Preston to join them on the rooftop was typical of the band, and mutually beneficial. Preston was Black and gay. Fifty years ago, that might have made a difference to many, but it didn’t matter to the Beatles. Preston is clearly at ease with them as they are with him, and he takes a supporting role on the stage even as they showcase his brilliant playing.

The Beatles idolized older American musicians such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard. And they knew and accepted that their recently deceased manager Brian Epstein was gay. “Brian was a beautiful guy,” Lennon later remarked.

The Beatles disbanded just 15 months after the rooftop concert, but our fascination with them and their music continues unabated. Among their greatest legacies is the way in which, from the start and to the core, they had a international ethos that grew even more expansive when they achieved fame, and that always fuelled their remarkable productivity and creativity.

There is much about the rooftop concert that is magical: Lennon, McCartney and Harrison singing three-part harmony on the chorus of “Don’t Let Me Down” always stands out. It is also clear that Preston is an intimate part of the magic. On that chilly and dull January day, Billy Preston played a central role in helping them to catch fire even as they were bidding the world goodbye.The Conversation


Robert Morrison is a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature. 

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca


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