Arts-based research seeks to represent the content and process of embodied participants doing the inquiry, through exemplars. Unlike examples, which suggest one choice is as good as another, exemplars are those most relevant to the phenomenon, representing it in an artful and embodied way and animating subjects’ and researchers’ own voices (Lindlof, 1995, p. 268). Feminist sociologist Dorothy Smith calls this practice “botanizing” and the “specimens” of people’s practices, like exemplars, “bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use. “The autobiographies of the kitchen table in Lorri Neilsen’s work challenge traditional modes of representing research; exemplars are consistent with her call for a “renovated inquiry process” that “displays our lives rather than conceals them.”

Lindlof, Thomas (1995). Qualitative communication research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Neilsen, Lorri (1998). The academy of the kitchen table. In Knowing her place: Research literacies and feminist occasions (pp. 137-162). Great Tancook Island, Nova Scotia: Backalong Books.

Dorothy Smith (1990). Femininity as discourse. In Texts, facts and femininity: Exploring the relations of ruling (pp. 159-208). London: Routledge.

Smith, Dorothy (1996). Telling the truth after postmodernism. Symbolic Interaction, 19(3), 171-202.





Meera Margaret Singh http://www.montrealmirror.com/2008/091808/artsweek.html


 Documentary Film

Club Native (Tracey Deer, 2007)


In Club Native, Deer looks deeply into the history and present-day reality of Aboriginal identity. With moving stories from a range of characters from her Kahnawake Reserve – characters on both sides of the critical blood-quantum line – she reveals the divisive legacy of more than a hundred years of discriminatory and sexist government policy and reveals the lingering “blood quantum” ideals, snobby attitudes and outright racism that threaten to destroy the fabric of her community.


Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (Alanis Obomsawin,1993)


On a hot July day in 1990, an historic confrontation propelled Native issues in Kanehsatake and the village of Oka, Québec, into the international spotlight and into the Canadian conscience. Director Alanis Obomsawin endured 78 nerve-wracking days and nights filming the armed stand-off between the Mohawks, the Québec police and the Canadian army. A powerful feature-documentary emerges that takes you right into the action of an age-old aboriginal struggle. The result is a portrait of the people behind the barricades, providing insight into the Mohawks’ unyelding determination to protect their land.



Water Marks


In 1975, the naked and beaten body of poet Pat Lowther was discovered floating in Furry Creek, near Vancouver. Her husband Roy was convicted of the murder, and later died while serving his sentence. Pat left behind two daughters, Beth and Christine, who are now writers themselves. They are seeking to learn as much as they can about the mother they lost so young. This journey back is also a journey forward, to a place where a dark past no longer holds them captive.


 Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD) and partners are please to invite you to the following Canadian Premiere. Please find attached the official English and French invitations for the Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto launches of The Silent Partner: HIV in Marriage.

Action Canada pour la population et le développement  (ACPD) et ses partenaires ont le plaisir de vous inviter en première canadienne à la projection de Chérie, Silence! VIH entre époux “The Silent Partner: HIV in Marriage”. Il vous est possible de vous joindre à nous à trois endroits différents, soit Montréal, Ottawa et Toronto. R.S.V.P. requis, prière de nous mentionner le lieu de projection. N’hésitez pas à partager cette information avec vos collègues et amis. Au plaisir de vous accueillir en grand nombre.



Population Action International’s Latest Documentary       

Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD)

in partnership with

The African and Caribbean Health Network of Ottawa (ACHNO)

The African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario (ACCHO)

The Blueprint for Action on Women and HIV/AIDS

The Canadian AIDS Society (CAS)

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

The Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD)

Are proud to present in the CANADIAN PREMIERE of Population Action International’s latest documentary

The Silent Partner: HIV in Marriage

Through man-on-the-street interviews, observations of local experts, and the intimate stories of two women living with HIV, The Silent Partner: HIV in Marriage, calls into question the belief that marriage protects women from HIV infection. Come to a screening to see and discuss the realities facing married couples everywhere.

MONTREAL’s SCREENING on Monday APRIL 27th, 2009

From 10:00 – 11:30 am

At the CinéRobothèque / Cinéma ONF, 1564, St-Denis Street, Métro Berri-UQAM

OTTAWA’s SCREENING on Tuesday APRIL 28th, 2009

From 17:30 – 20:30 pm

131 Queen St. in Parliament of Canada Building

TORONTO’s SCREENING on Thursday APRIL 30th, 2009

From 18:00 – 21:00 pm

Sutton Place Hotel, 955 Bay Street (Stop 33)

A presentation will follow, featuring:

·        The film producer, Rosemarie Muganda-Onyando, also Director of the Centre for the Study of Adolescence in Nairobi (Kenya), and

·        Kennedy Odhiambo Otina, Coordinator for the Men for Gender Equality Now, a programme based at the African Women’s Development and Communication Network – FEMNET.

To get more information, please contact Johanne Fillion at jfillion@acpd.ca.


Radio and TV

Dykes on Mykes http://nomorepotlucks.org/dykes-mykes


Inter Pares (www.interpares.ca) works with women and men who share our desire for a world free from sexism, inequality and war. We strengthen local and national movements by raising money and generating political support for their work, collaborating in developing plans of action, connecting them with like-minded groups, and engaging in policy advocacy and public education in Canada. In each case, we bring a special support to women’s leadership, and a feminist analysis to problems and potential approaches. Whether the initiatives focus on building peaceful societies, healthy communities, ecological agriculture, or just economies, the common threads that bind them are solidarity and social justice -supporting marginalized communities to build better futures.

Take a look at Inter Pares Archives of multimedia publications for exemplars of radio and TV coverage of their policy advocacy and public education in Canada, such as:

Crops, Cars, and Climate Crisis: the Global Impacts of Growing Biofuels                                                                     on Food, Farmers, and Human Rights

Part of a six-city tour, this event series explored the multifaceted impacts of the rapid expansion of biofuels in the Global South. The public forum in Ottawa was recorded by the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC).

Asha El-Karib interviewed by “Women’s Word”

In September 2007, during her last visit to Canada, Asha El-Karib from the Gender Centre for Research and Training in Sudan was interviewed by Women’s Word, CFRC 101.9 FM, Queen’s Campus Radio in Kingston. Asha shares some of her experiences as a women’s rights activist in Sudan and provides a feminist analysis regarding some of the recent changes in her country.


Memoir and Auto/biography

Clarkson, Stephen (Ed.). (2008). My life as a dame: The person and the political in the writings of Christina McCall (Eleanor Wachtel, Foreword). Toronto: Anansi.

Gray, Charlotte (2008). Nellie McClung (John Ralston Saul, Series Editor, Extradordinary Canadians). Toronto: Penguin Canada.

Hein, Jessica, Holland, Heather & Kauppi, Carol (Eds.). (2007). girlSpoken: From Pen, Brush & Tongue. Toronto, ON: Second Story Press.

Mitchell, Margaret (2008). No laughing matter: Adventure, activism and politics. Vancouver, BC: Granville Island Publishing.

Strong-Wilson, Teresa (2008). Bringing memory forward: Storied remembrance in social justice education with teachers. New York: Peter Lang.

Warne, Randi R. (1993). Literature as pulpit: The Christian social activism of Nellie L. McClung. Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier University Press.



Greenwood, Barbara (2007). Factory girl. Toronto: Kids Can Press.



Ellis, Becky. (2008). “Won’t Get Schooled Again: Feminist home-schoolers are creating new ways of living and learning.” Briarpatch Magazine (March/April 2008). at http://briarpatchmagazine.com/2008/03/01/wont-get-schooled-again/

Snyder, Nikko. (2008). “Strange Bedfellows: How feminism and porn get it on at the Feminist Porn Awards.” Briarpatch Magazine (March/April 2008).at http://briarpatchmagazine.com/2008/03/01/strange-bedfellows/



Atria’s Digital Storytelling Project




Toujours Rebelles: Waves of Resistance, Montreal, Quebec, October 11-13, 2008: http://www.rebelles2008.org

RebELLE Manifesto: http://www.rebelles2008.org/en/manifesto

Sister Fair Women’s Festival, Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, September 26-28, 2008: www.sisterfair.com


Performance and Ritual

MARGINALIA: Getting Out of the House

Pam Hall & Margaret DraguThis coast-to-coast correspondence project between Pam Hall (St. John’s, Newfoundland) and Margaret Dragu (Richmond, British Columbia) investigates connection, community, sexuality, aging, and domestic life. The work takes the form of two history-houses covered in the artists’ squares/carrés and a short “art-aktion” performance.



Radical Vulvas Cabaret – Montreal:  http://radicalvulvasmtl.wordpress.com


Sexual Overtones – Ottawa:  http://sexualovertones.ca


Posted on PolicyAction Research listserv (PAR-L) by Martin Dufresne April 22, 2009:

66-yr old Anishinabe elder Josephine Mandamin started out in Thunder Bay and
after walking around all of the Great Lakes between 2003 and 2008, she and
her family is now walking along the St.Lawrence River down to the Atlantic
ocean, which they expect to reach at the end of April.
Anishinabe-quay carry an old copper pail filled with
of water and a ceremonial staff with an eagle’s head, performing small
ceremonies, and talking to people about the condition of the Great Lakes and
the River.

Mandamin and four other

Local sympathizers are honking as they walk by, joining her and her small
group for a stretch, hosting them for the night, making donations…
Enthusiasm is growing about this innovative action.

For info about the group’s current location in order to interview Ms.
Manadamin, one can contact Mado Terrio at 506 466 1977.

An article by Canadian filmmaker Kevin McMahon who has been following her
trip and making a film about it: Waterlife, out this summer :

A strong interview of Mandamin on Youtube:

The Mother Earth Water Walkers’ website:

Please consider a contribution. These courageous women say they are doing it
for the water… but they are really doing it for us, our children,

Martin Dufresne


Artist Web-Sites, Zines, and Blogs

Art Not Violence http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca/art-not-violence

Atira’s Digital Storytelling Project http://www.atira.bc.ca

Bit Design (Terri Vernon) http://bitdesign.ca/mixed.html

Canadian Artist Biographies http://www.culture.ca/explore-explorez-e/Arts/Biographies

Collette Balcaen http://members.shaw.ca/colette_balcaen/

Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan  http://www.fingerinthedyke.ca

Margaret Dragu http://www.geocities.com/ladragu/My_page.html

First Story http://www.firststory.net/

Kim Goldberg  http://www.pigsquashpress.com/

Women Artists History Initiative at Concordia: http://cwahi.concordia.ca/sources/

Nadia Myre, multi-disciplinary installation artist of Anishanbe heritage (Algonquin from Kitigan Zibi reserve); www.nadiamyre.com

Museum of Motherhood: www.museumofmotherhood.stirsite.com/page/page/6301588.htm
The Motherhood Foundation Inc. (MFI) creates, produces and presents visual, literary and performing arts events and festivals which celebrate, nurture and support women with a special emphasis on mothers, and their activities. MFI pays tribute to mothers (Moms) and gives individuals and groups of Women opportunities for artistic presentations and performance they might otherwise not have, while addressing important issues, creating meaningful cultural content, and providing uplifting and compelling educational and community experiences.

The Motherhood Foundation will establish a world-class International Museum Of Motherhood, in Seneca Falls in 2011 to display the herstory of North American Mothers, promote women’s studies and the evolution of family, while honoring the achievements of women who are mothers in perpetuity. However immediate goals dictate the necessity of a broad reaching internet campaign and virtual display of the initial phases of The Museum Of Motherhood to build momentum and generate a wave of interest that will increase the financial momentum necessary to realize this vision

see also Association for Research into Motherhood: www.yorku.ca/arm

Mampalooza www.mamapalooza.com

Native Women in the Arts www.nativewomeninthearts.com

Lynette Plett www.lynetteplett.ca

Suzy Lake www.suzylake.ca

Valarie James, writer, sculptor, educator: http://www.valariejames.com/index.html

Women Writing & Reading http://www.crcstudio.arts.ualberta.ca/wwr/

Marian Frances White, St. John’s, Newfoundland,  writer, poet, photographer, historical filmmaker: www.marianfranceswhite.com


Art as Popular Education

Hein, Jessica, Holland, Heather, & Kauppi, Carol (Eds.). (2007). girlSpoken from pen, brush & tongue. Toronto: Second Story Press.

Strong-Wilson, Teresa (2008). Bringing memory forward: Storied remembrance in social justice education with teachers. New York: Peter Lang.

Wark, Jayne (2006). Radical gestures. Feminism and performance art in North America. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.


Arts-Based Educational Research

Blaikie, Fiona (2007). The Aesthetics of Female Scholarship: Rebecca, Kris, Paula and Lisette. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies. 5 (2) Fall/Winter 2007.

Church, K. (2003). Something plain and simple? Unpacking custom-made wedding dresses of Western Canada (1950-1995). In H. Foster & D. Johnson (Eds.), Wedding dress across cultures (pp.5-21). Oxford: Berg.

Fels, Lynn, & Belliveau, George (2008). Exploring curriculum: Performative inquiry, role drama, and learning. Vancouver: Pacific Educational Press.



Artist Web-Sites

Valarie James, writer, sculptor, educator: http://www.valariejames.com/index.html





Documentary Film

 A video prepared by The New York Times:

After three decades of war, Afghanistan is one of the world’s widow capitals. They are ridiculed as prostitutes when they go shopping, and many are unable to rent their own homes.




FIREGRL is a social networking web site for and by teen girls that provides health information and inspires girls to speak out about their lives and to take action in their communities.

The FIREGRL web site includes blogs, profiles, forums, clubs, and other interactive features. Its web page includes a digital “soap opera” created by the Young Women’s Leadership Council. Please scroll to the bottom of the page to watch the video.



Voice = Power = Change = Revolution

Cho, Margaret (Writer) & Lorene Machado (Dir). CHO Revolution. (2004). DVD. Los Angeles: Cho Taussig Productions.

hooks, bell. (1989). Talking Back: Thinking feminist, thinking black. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.

“For us [writers from oppressed, colonized groups], true speaking is not solely an expression of creative power; it is an act of resistance, a political gesture that challenges politics of domination that would render us nameless and voiceless” (hooks, 1989: 8).

Stand-up comedian and queer activist Margaret Cho’s CHO Revolution tour performance exemplifies bell hooks’s (1989) notion of “coming to voice” as she challenges what hooks refers to as the “right speech” of silence imposed upon and embodied by members of minority communities in North America.
Overall, Cho’s performance style is loudly vocal and physical, in contradiction to the silence and invisibility ascribed to her minority status as a queer woman born into a Korean immigrant family. As a white Canadian woman of European ancestry, I find certain elements of Cho’s comedic routine discomfiting as she assumes and exaggerates common American (and Canadian) stereotypes of Asian people. Watching her performance, I became aware that my own laughter at Cho’s sometimes-racist jokes plays a colluding role in the silencing process. Perhaps Cho uses her comedy to make the stereotypes and silences clear in order to then tear them down with her loud presence.
The content of her liberated speech is equally powerful. Amidst the humourous anecdotes and reflections, Cho delivers a scathing critique of American culture, targeting in particular the racism, sexism, and homophobia embedded in popular culture and media and the effects this has on women’s self-esteem and body image. I was particularly touched by a part near the end of Cho’s performance when she stated the following:

I’m very inappropriate, which makes me a problem dinner guest. Because at some point during the evening someone eventually says: ‘Ok, yeah, yeah, ok [mimics silly laughing] too much information! Don’t go there!’ I live there. I bought a house there. I’m gonna take you there! Because when something hurts me, I have to say something, ‘cause if I don’t it’ll just burn me up, and I feel like living as a minority in America feels like dying of a thousand papercuts, and I ain’t goin’ out like that. So I have to speak my herstory! (Cho, 2004)

A little bit later in the performance Cho describes the slogan of her favourite activist group, the 1960s-era ACT-UP: “Silence = Death. It meant, if we don’t talk about AIDS we will die of AIDS.” She adds, “And I adopt a similar slogan. For me, Silence = Nonexistence. If I don’t give ‘too much information’ and if I ‘don’t go there’ it’s like I was never there in the first place” (Cho, 2004).



Dr. Karen Norberg, Knit brain sculpture



Performance and Ritual

This is an excerpt from  Sandy Butler’s (2005) Praying with My Feet, on the street activism of the Women in Black. The full article can be accessed at: http://www.imagesofdivinity.org/pdf/06-18-05_BMC/Butler_6-18-05.pdf

In the summer of l991, a group of Jewish feminists, concerned about the Israeli Occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the rise of the second Palestinian intifada and its draconian response by the Israeli government and army, gathered to begin a chapter of Women in Black.  

Our foundation was the powerful template of both silent witness reflecting the silencing of women’s speech, and wearing black clothing as a symbol of sorrow for all victims of war that mark the now nearly 200 Women in Black chapters around the world.

Our additional kavannah (intention) was to blend street activism that incorporated music, poetry, ritual and ceremony. We wanted to design a theatrical form that would carry our message of peace and justice. One of our members, familiar with the many guises of the Black Madonna around the world, suggested that we find a way to include her in our street theatre. Our search led us to Annie Hallet, a mask and puppet maker, who was, as we later discovered, the artist who had made six puppets for China Galland, four of which were traditional Black Madonnas, one was the French St. Sarah-la-Kali, the Patron of the Gypsies and one of the Shekinah, faceless, black net, lit from the inside, as large as the Madonnas.

We began by using one of Annie’s puppets at an early vigil to gauge the effect on passers-by, and were startled by the intense and positive response to her presence. We soon incorporated four, and now use eight puppets in our vigils.

In September 2001, during Rosh Hashanah, only weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Center, we gathered at the Emeryville Marina for a Tashlich ceremony, the ritual casting-off-into-moving-waters of the past year’s misdeeds. The puppets were the backdrop, each standing beside a woman holding a tablet that represented the commandments we have broken in the past year.

The speaker said, “These are the Days of Awe, ten days during which Jews traditionally engage in heshbon hanefesh, an accounting of the soul. This is a time to arouse ourselves from sleep and decide how we will live in this coming year. We are required to challenge our complacency and lethargy and examine those behaviors, choices and acts, both of omission and commission. This is a period where we express regret for our actions and the actions of our people.”

She then asked participants to write down the ways they were prepared to cast off their silent acquiescence to American’s support of the Israeli policies of Occupation. The slips of paper were exchanged for pieces of bread held in straw baskets by the puppets, and as their vows were read, a cello played and hundreds of women and men solemnly moved to the water’s edge to cast off their collective wrong-doings.

This first large ceremony taught us that incorporating the puppet figures as the centerpiece of our political activism brought a strong spiritual dimension to our powerful blending of prayer, participatory ceremony and a sense of re-dedication to urgent but peaceful struggle.

During Chanukah of that same year, we shaped a ritual that utilized the puppets as a menorah (an eight stemmed candelabra.) We gathered at the darkest time of the season to affirm the miracle of light, honor the darkness of the womb, the source of life, and re-dedicate ourselves to working for peace in ways that bring small sparks of illumination into our troubled and a angry world. As each speaker prepared to address the congregation, she approached the shamus, the central puppet in the menorah, lit a candle and carried it to the podium. After all eight speakers concluded, the several hundred people who crowded into the main hall of Chochmat Ha Lev, a Jewish Meditation Center, were moved to participate in approaching the puppets, lighting their own candles, and at the conclusion of the service, offering their own hopes and concrete commitments to one small act to work for peace in their homes, in their neighborhoods, in their workplaces, in their country and in the world.

The puppets with their steady unwavering presence become powerful screens upon which passers-by project their own meanings. For some, our stately procession evokes a funeral procession for all those who have died in wars around the world. For others, we seem to be a sort of religious ceremony, a sense of the presence of the Mother on the crowded city street. And when we vigil in African-American neighborhoods, the puppets mirror familiar and inspiring images of the residents of the neighborhood. One child said, “They’re how we look, just bigger and braver.

“When we choose to participate in political gatherings that will undoubtedly be contentious and adversarial, our presence creates an alternative space. When BAWIB vigils, several women are assigned to hand out one page explanations about our work and presence at that event, respond to passers-by, answer questions, talk to the media and act as our public voice. Surrounded by the bombast of exhortational speakers shouting into microphones, hate-filled banners and fliers, we arrange ourselves, just a bit away from the speakers platform, but still visible, and come to stillness, our very silence compelling people to take notice. The puppets reflect the gentle and determined work of women making peace as they hover above us, still, patient, open. Our signs read:

Mothers are Weeping in Israel and

Palestine Mothers are still Weeping in New York and

Afghanistan Mothers are Weeping in The United States and

Iraq Jewish Women For Peace

 How Many Dead Children?

 End the Occupation


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