Chelsea Vowel is Métis from manitow-sâkahikan (Lac Ste. Anne) Alberta, residing in amiskwacîwâskihikan (Edmonton). Mother to six girls, she has a BEd, an LLB, and a MA, and is a Cree language instructor at the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta

Chelsea is a public intellectual, writer, and educator whose work intersects language, gender, Métis self-determination, and resurgence. Author of Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada, she and her co-host Molly Swain produce the Indigenous feminist sci-fi podcast Métis in Space, and co-founded the Métis in Space Land Trust.

Chelsea blogs at apihtawikosisan.com and makes legendary bannock.

 

Chelsea Vowel Speaking Topics

For writers and publishers

  • kinisitohtên cî: Do you understand? Moving beyond colonialism in publishing.

For generations, Indigenous authors have been forced to reshape their words and stories to be legible to a non-Indigenous audience. Increasingly this practice is shifting as Indigenous peoples assert our worldviews within mainstream publishing. Authors, editors, and publishers must embrace discomfort, and integrate ongoing cultural learning into their work so as to not purposely or even accidentally work at odds with authentic voices. What does this look like, when there is such a diversity of Indigenous cultures?

  • Research Creation in Writing

Which comes first, the research or the writing? For many fiction and non-fiction works, research is an ongoing process with potentially different goals and outcomes depending on where it occurs during the project. This workshop is for writers who do not necessarily consider themselves to be academics, but who wish to engage in research as part of their creative works both for the sake of accuracy and authenticity, and perhaps also to transcend the constraints of what is recognized as possible. Participants will be introduced to the different forms of research-creation, as well as how to evaluate resources. They will also be presented with scenarios where it may be impossible to confirm a claim, as well as situations where a writer may make the informed choice to work outside of established facts.

 

For educators and front-line service workers

  • This is Not an Indian Problem: How Colonialism Impacts Your Profession

Understanding the history and contemporary expressions of colonialism and their impacts on Indigenous peoples is a vital prerequisite to working with Indigenous peoples. This workshop can be customized for educators, medical professionals, social workers, and any other public-service profession.

  • This is Canadian History Too: Integrating Indigenous Histories and Cultures into the Classroom

A practical guide for educators, who are stretched thin as it is, for how to accurately teach about what are often mislabelled as “Indigenous topics” in the classroom.

 

For the general public

  • Law for the Apocalypse: Order out of Chaos Kinship out of Fracture

A common theme within mainstream apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives is individual preparation for survival. Indigenous peoples have experienced and survived multiple world-endings, or fractures. If we, as humans, are undone through fractures or severances, then the solution is to become re-constituted or re/paired through expanding our systems of relationality. We do not need apocalypse to engage in this re-constitution.

  • Treaty Making, Treaty Breaking: Are We All Treaty People?

A brief history of treaty-making in what is now known as Canada, as well as a roadmap for repairing relationships.

  • The Keys to the Kingdom: Land Back

More and more, Indigenous peoples are asserting that decolonizaton and reconciliation require land back, no metaphor included. This is a practical discussion of land back projects, as well as an aspirational future-facing examination of what could be.

  • Stories That Reveal, Stories That Conceal: Pushing Back Against Settler Myth-Making

Myths and stereotypes about Indigenous peoples serve a powerful purpose within settler colonial states, creating a moral narrative that excuses and even celebrates dispossession to lay claim to lands and resources. Debunking myths is not enough, we must also understand what specific purpose these narratives have served, and continue to serve.

  • The “Act” of Reconciliation: From Farce to Future

Reconciliation, indigenization, equity and diversity. Powerful attempts to alter structures and recreate institutions have invariably become coopted into initiatives that wither on the vine. Understanding why this continues to happen is necessary if real change is ever going to be possible.

  • kinêhiyawiwnaw nêhiyawêwin: Why Language is Vital to Indigenous Resurgence

Indigenous languages come from the land, and continue to reflect geographically specific realities as well as worldviews that have allowed diverse societies to survive multiple apocalypses. Examples from nêhiyawêwin, Plains Cree, will be used to highlight the ways in which Indigenous languages cannot be secondary to Indigenous resurgence, and how these languages offer important insights for living alternatives to extractive, and oppressive hierarchies.

  • Indigenous Futurisms

Indigenous futurisms, a term coined by Grace Dillon and indebted to Afrofuturism, seeks to describe a movement of art, literature, games, and other forms of media that express Indigenous perspectives on the future, present, and past. How can Indigenous futurisms help us think, and act otherwise?

  • On the Land Together or Apart

Most discussions about land back, decolonization, and reconciliation tend to focus on the urban south and the needs and desires of urban dwellers. However, Canada is vast, and very little attention is being given to fostering relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in rural spaces. This is a prairie-specific conversation about the history, and potential future of those relationships.

  • Sugar Settlers and Settler Findoming

A very tongue-in-cheek exploration of relationships with white Canadians, the good, the bad, and the ugly. This talk explores the different ways that settlers interact with Indigenous peoples in an era of social media, the discomfort this can cause, and potential paths for moving forward.

 

Métis in Space presentations

These presentations also feature Molly Swain, co-host of the Indigenous feminist sci-fi podcast Métis in Space, as well as co-founder of the Métis in Space Land Trust.

  • Podcasting 101: How to Do the Thing

A practical workshop for how to go from podcast concept to creation, and Do The Thing.

  • Enacting Métis Futurisms

Métis futurisms, like Indigenous futurisms more broadly, resist the colonial narratives that Indigenous peoples have no future; that we as peoples are disappearing and dying out; that we are unmodern and unmodernizable. Métis futurisms, which we build in the podcast by speaking back to colonial speculative fiction tropes and imagining decolonized futures, are intimately tied to the land. Land Back means space to do the work of bringing Indigenous futures into being.

  • From Podcast to Land Trust

Molly Swain and I detail the twists and turns that led from us recording an Indigenous feminist sci-fi podcast, to running a Land Trust. We discuss practical details, obstacles, and ongoing challenges of acquiring land within settler colonial property regimes.