RAVEN - Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs

2016 Young Scholars Essay Prize Winners

The purpose of the RAVEN Young Scholars Essay Prize is to recognize outstanding undergraduate work which intersects with the core precepts and values of RAVEN. Quite simply, we want to recognize students who are asking questions about the sorts of topics that we know to be important. The essay competition is open to all disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Papers from all methodological and theoretical standpoints are considered: submissions may be made from papers already written as part of normal coursework. We’re grateful to the adjudicating panel:

Glen S. Coulthard – Professor, Politic Science, First Nations Studies Program, UBC

Dara Culhane – Professor, Anthropology, SFU

Dawn Hoogeveen – Graduate Student, UBC

Max Ritts – Graduate Student, UBC; RAVEN volunteer


2016 First Place winner: Saul Brown, “Heiltsuk Herring: An Exploration of Stories, The State, and Capitalism”

Excerpt from paper: “My Hailhzaqvla name is Ach’ebuh, which originates from the unceded territory of the Heiltsuk Nation located in what some refer to as the central coast of British Columbia (BC). My Hailhzaqvla name roughly translates into “ferocious grizzly bear” or “the silvertip/hump of a grizzly bear”. I come from the house of Hemas Dhadhiyasila – this is my Grandfather and Father’s house. This name of rank and house has been handed down to worthy Chiefs since the first ancestor descended down from the cosmos. Since time immemorial the Heiltsuk have had a complex society based on the potlatch, which is our form of governance. It is from the potlatch that my name came. It is through the potlatch that our stories stay vibrant and rich, such as the stories of my name. All of our ancestral names that my family owns and uses tie us directly to the land and seas from which we come and the stories that connect us to that place. Thus, names enforce our inalienable relationship to place.

In Heiltsuk the name of a person carries a transfer of privilege and responsibility from one generation to the next, providing for intergenerational succession. This is also like the succession of stories. This is our truth as a Nation even when we, the Heiltsuk, stood on the brink of annihilation by way of Canadian colonization. As a member of the Heiltsuk Nation who was born and raised in our traditional territory, I have been exposed to the implications of Heiltsuk stories and everything they embody. Being exposed to Heiltsuk stories at a young age was never an oddity for me because I was born into the house of Hemas Dhadhiyasila. Being born into this life and responsibility nurtured my Heiltsuk worldview just as the potlatch nurtures Heiltsuk stories. My worldview accepts, trusts, and celebrates Heiltsuk stories. I do not identify as Canadian.”

Read the entire paper here: https://raventrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/SaulBrown_HeiltsukHerring_RavenTrust.pdf

Second Place winner: Sol Diana.  “The Grass Beneath My Feet: Reflections for Blackfoot Poet Zaccheus Jackson ‘Nyce’”.

Says Diana, “I chose to write for and about Blackfoot spoken word artist Zaccheus Jackson ‘Nyce’, and explore his work as decolonial praxis, for many interrelated reasons. First, I am a spoken word artist myself, as well as a First Nations and Indigenous studies student at UBC. Therefore, the intersections between art and radical resistance have been a central inquiry in my studies. Second, I have met and worked with Zaccheus before, so I have a personal connection there—one that I wanted to honour through my writing and research.

In writing this paper I was led to the scholarship and stories of other incredible, powerful, and sharp Indigenous artists such as Leanne Simpson, Frank Waln, and Karyn Recollet, amongst many others. They each, in their own voices and ways, testify to the healing and resisting potential of art and storytelling in the face of such a dehumanizing force as settler colonialism. It was a necessary reminder that Indigenous scholars, activists, authors, writers, and artists are resisting, and theorizing the unravelling of, settler colonialism. This reminder also positioned me to continue being mindful of my own responsibilities as a non-Indigenous settler artist. What am I doing with the stories and scholarship of these Indigenous artists that I have access to? How will I hold up and amplify their voices? To be reminded to ask such important questions was indeed one of the most powerful experiences to come out of writing this piece.

 I am not sure if honoured is the right word, but it is sure is the most accurate one in describing how I feel about being recognized as this year’s second place winner. I am overjoyed to have had the opportunity to write about a hero of mine, Zaccheus Jackson, and explore the anti-colonial praxis embedded in his work. Lastly, but certainly not least, I am thrilled that the writing of an Indigenous writer has been recognized as the first place winner this year. It is an indication that platforms and networks for Indigenous scholarship and voices are continuously being created, and an important reminder that this work must keep happening. Maraming salamat (thank you sincerely).”

Read the entire paper here: https://raventrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/SDiana_Submission_TitlePage.pdf


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