Great Ocean Dialogues
September 28 - 29 2019

The Great Ocean is defined as a relational space by many Indigenous Nations. In Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim, “shḵwen̓: shéwalh tl’a swá7am-chet” means “to cross a big ocean, the roads of our Ancestors.” In hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, the ocean is referred to as “sʔəƛ̓qəl̕əc,” or “outside waters.” In te reo Māori, “Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa” is “the Great Ocean of Kiwa,” and in yakʔitʔɨnɨsmu tiłhinkʔtitʸu, “łpasini” translates to “the one ocean.”

About Event

Orienting ourselves toward the open waters, Great Ocean Dialogues begins from a generative refusal of the idea that the Pacific is a vacant space peripheral to imperialistic power and flows of capital. This event positions the Great Ocean as both a return to and a reimagining of our ancestral and current connections across cultural and geographic contexts. How can this concept contribute to shaping Indigenous contemporary art transnationally and from Indigenous perspectives? How can we create and sustain networks of support across the ocean? Where do our practices, knowledges and struggles for sovereignty align, and where do they diverge? And how do we honour our differences when seeking connection? 

This two-day gathering will feature conversations between local First Nations artists and knowledge keepers alongside international and Vancouver-based guests in order to explore these questions.

Great Ocean Dialogues is organized in partnership between the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective / Collectif des commissaires autochtones, SFU Galleries and the Vancouver Art Gallery.


Great Ocean Dialogues takes place over three sessions, and each session requires registration. Register for all three sessions as a package, and you will receive a special invitation to a private reception for “Transits and Returns” on Friday, September 27 from 6-8 PM.

A Note on Welcoming: Please note that local First Nations will be granted free admission to these events. If cost is a barrier to you, please contact us by phone at 604-662-4700 or by email at

Session 1 • Gathering

Saturday, September 28 | 10 AM-4:15 PM
Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street

This session will include a Host Nation Panel Discussion, two Artists in Dialogue conversations, and a Curators’ Tour of “Transits and Returns.”

Speakers include: Chief Bill Williams, Tarah Hogue, Ocean Hyland, Meagan Innes, Debra Sparrow, Salia Joseph, Edith Amituanai, Marianne Nicolson, Elisa Jane Carmichael, Natalie Ball, Lori Beavis, Sarah Biscarra Dilley, Freja Carmichael and Lana Lopesi.

Tickets: $15 for Members | $30 for General Admission.
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Session 2 • Keynote Panel Discussion

Speaking and Relating Across the Great Ocean
Saturday, September 28 | 7-8:30 PM
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, SFU Woodward’s
149 West Hastings Street

This keynote panel discussion will focus on the Great Ocean and the artistic and cultural connections which exist between its edges. The session will weave together stories of exchange, collaboration and learning that bring us together across distance and difference.

Panelists include: Micki Davis, Charlene George (Kwi Awt Stelmexw), Anchi Lin, Henry Tsang and T’uy’t’anat-Cease Wyss. Moderated by Lana Lopesi.

Tickets: Free. Registration required.
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Session 3 • Gathering

Sunday, September 29 | 9 AM-6:30 PM Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, SFU Woodward’s 149 West Hastings Street

This session will feature three panel discussions, titled ‘Indigenous Art and Curation: Between Culturally Specific and Transnational Contexts;’ ‘Re/turning To Futures: Urgent Imaginations;’ and ‘Working With and From Within Community.’

Speakers include: Salia Joseph, Camille Georgeson-Usher, BC Collective (Cora-Allan Wickliffe and Daniel Twiss), Michelle McGeough, Chrystal Sparrow, Freja Carmichael, Christopher Ando, Hannah Brontë, Chantal Fraser, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Whess Harman, Dayna Danger, Taloi Havini, Sarah Hunt, Jaymyn La Vallee, Carol McGregor, Faith Sparrow, Sarah Biscarra Dilley and Tarah Hogue.  

Tickets: Free. Registration required.
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