Memorial University is taking a lead role in helping bring indigenous musicians from around the world together with leading ethnomusicologists and researchers for an international symposium next month in Toronto.
Dr. Beverley Diamond, Canada Research Chair in ethnomusicology at Memorial and the director of Memorial’s Research Centre for Music, Media and Place (MMaP), is helping co-ordinate the event together with Dr. Gage Averill, vice-principal and dean of the University of Toronto Mississauga.
Indigenous Music and Dance as Cultural Property: Global Perspectives will take place at Victoria College at the University of Toronto May 1-4. Roughly 25 indigenous musicians and 25 academics from eight different countries will converge for formal and informal presentations, workshops, performances and public discussions.
Delegates from the World Intellectual Property Organization and the secretary general of the UNESCO-affiliated group the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) will also participate.
The colloquium is an official ICTM event.
“The ownership of traditional indigenous knowledge is urgent for all Indigenous people but, so far, discussions to date have often focused on land or water rights, environmental or biological knowledge, and trademark wars,” explained Dr. Diamond.
“These have had a place of privilege, with music and dance relegated to a subordinate position in discussions to date. We aim to identify best practices for regulating the uses of traditional music and dance in the context of globalization, and to enhance awareness of the complexity of traditional Indigenous knowledge systems.”
Dr. Diamond said the four-day meeting will address common themes and concerns including the development of community protocols for traditional knowledge, appropriate access to archival materials in the digital age, indigenous-centred pedagogies and guidelines for respectful contemporary creative work.
She said participants bring experience and knowledge of various cultures and traditions from around the world including Native American, First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Hawaiian, Saami and Maori.
This is one of the first times ethnomusicologists and such a diverse group of indigenous musicians and dancers have met together.
The international colloquium is being funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canada Council, the International Research Linkages program of the International Council for Canadian Studies. Specific sessions within the colloquium are being co-sponsored by and the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Creators Rights Alliance, ImagineNative, and the Institute for Canadian Music.
Dr. Diamond will be joined at the conference by Janice Esther Tulk, project co-ordinator for MMaP, who is also completing a PhD in ethnomusicology from Memorial.
In addition to the conference, Dr. Diamond is helping organize a special concert on the final evening of the meeting featuring performers from seven countries.
Global Spirit: An Indigenous Showcase will bring together traditional art forms such as Australian didgeridoo, Hawaiian hula with contemporary music such as Inuit word art, Maori beats and Grammy award-winning Native American song.
Note to editors: Dr. Beverley Diamond is available for media interviews prior to leaving for Ontario for the Indigenous Music and Dance as Cultural Property: Global Perspectives colloquium next week.