Guerilla Mag Ottawa, Metis Media Fest 2008

Metis Media Fest 2008 reviewed in Ottawa’s Guerilla Magazine piece “Old Cultures, New Tech”.


Tony Martins features the 2008 Metis Media Fest in the September Issue #17 of Ottawa’s Guerilla Magazine in a piece entitled “Old Cultures, New Tech”.

The article ran as follows: Besides taking him around the world, Graham Thompson’s inter-cultural video and film projects have directly exposed him to the issues that threaten indigenous peoples in many countries.


On Valentine’s Day 2005, at the start of a planned inter-cultural exchange sponsored by the Canadian Embassy in Manila, one of several bombs was detonated two blocks from Thompson’s hotel room. The bombings were what rebel group “Abu Sayyaf” called retribution for government assaults in the southern Philippines, a flash point of resistance since Spanish colonial efforts in the 1500s. In the bombings, 11 people were killed and 160 injured.



A member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia (of Cree and Scottish heritage), Thompson sought to share and explore his Aboriginal experiences closer to home when he directed the first Métis Media Fest in August of 2007 at Club SAW. The success of that effort led to an expanded 2008 festival that took place September 6 and 7. Guerilla asked Thompson to write about the development and success of his Métis Media Fest—an intriguing mix of age-old cultures and leading-edge technology.


Métis Media Fest 2007 featured 50 videos, 25 digital images and 10 audio tracks from Aboriginal artists in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Peru, and the Philippines. The event was an immersive installation of computers and video displays, where excerpts of the works were shown on the main screens and unedited versions archived on the computers within the installation. Audiences gathered at tables in the darkened space, lit only buy the glow of 13 video displays, to view a collage of works that ranged from traditional to experimental.


This year’s festival followed a similar format, but the Aboriginal artists were all from the local region. The thrust this year was to explore social media and build a strong sense of local artists that belong to our growing Aboriginal urban population. The 50 videos depicted local fiddle players, jiggers, sculptors, painters, elders, lodge keepers, and poets.

Many of the videos were developed as collaborative projects, where I would interview local artists, elders, and writers in their studios, homes, or places of work. Often the artists would perform or otherwise share their work as we filmed. We developed 50 short videos ranging from one to 10 minutes in length, appropriate for viewing in an installation or on web sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Mé—the final destinations for the content after the festival.

Métis Media Fest is largely a social networking experience: people gather around computer nodes to compare choices and experience the work. In keeping with an informal Métis gathering where people of many cultures and traditions come together, the festivals unfold in “Indian time”—in unscripted fashion, without strict adherence to a fixed schedule. The festivals begin and end with the ebb and flow of its participants.

Inspired by the 400-year-old Métis society involving the Cree, Scottish, Ojibway, French and Saulteaux (to name only a few of the participants in the historic fur trade that shaped early Canada), the festival celebrates a unique culture that is a hybrid of European and Aboriginal civilizations.

The festival adheres to the Métis sense of adventure and innovation whereby European technology was adapted to the Canadian wilderness, leading to new forms of transportation, hunting, clothing, music, dance, art, and spirituality. Examples of such adaptation include the York boat, the Red River cart, the Métis buffalo hunt, flower design leather clothing, Métis fiddle music, and Métis dance known as jigging.

In further keeping with Métis tradition, the 2008 festival incorporated the traditional use of the circle (in this case, a ring of video displays) found in Aboriginal ceremonies such as the sweat lodge and the talking circle. The mix of technology included digital DVD players, hypertext interfaces, microcomputers, and video projectors.

Juxtaposition of technology and Aboriginal traditional knowledge is not unusual in today’s indigenous digital culture. In the remote southwestern edge of the Filipino archipelago, for example, the work of Aboriginal video artist Kanakan-Balintagos documents the most sacred rituals of his Palawan tribe in an effort to secure their ancestral domain claim in the Philippines.

In a sense, the Métis Media Fest was designed to incorporate traditional knowledge to help satisfy a growing need for spiritual unity on our shared planet. The experience of art seated in ancient tradition becomes a doorway to the experience the “oneness” of the universe—what Carl Jung described as the couplings of the inner subjective and the outer objective reality evolved through the influence of the archetypes, patterns inherent in the human psyche and shared by all of mankind.

The festival could not have happened without the generous support of Club SAW, SAW Video, the Government of Canada’s Canada Heritage Department, the City of Ottawa, P4 Social Venture Entrepreneurs, and Dakima Marketing and Communications of Ottawa. Métis Media Fest 2008 depended heavily on volunteers for everything from video shoots to installation set-ups to internet marketing and has been blessed by supporters from Francophone, Aboriginal, Pakistani, East Indian, African, and Yemen communities in the local region.

Asifa Akbar, a lawyer from South Africa, captured the feeling: “I think it’s great and so Canadian that we have people from such diverse backgrounds working on helping to preserve and promote one of the cultures unique to Canada, and that in effect spells out what it means to be Canadian.”

Some of the Ottawa-based artists featured in Métis Media Fest 2008

  • Jaime Koebel, from Lac La Biche, Alberta, is a Métis dancer (jigger)      with the dance group “Jig on the Fly.” As an MA candidate at the School of       Canadian Studies at Carleton University, Jaime has a strong focus on      Aboriginal youth issues in the context of indigenous knowledge, arts, and      culture.
  • Raymond Girard, a Francophone composer and performer from      Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, has performed on the Easter Seal Telethon on CBC      and hosted numerous episodes of the line-dancing show “Dancer, Dancer” on       Rogers Television. From his roots-music CD entitled Êtes-vous prêt pour, the “Lumber Jack” song has      become the most-played Franco-Ontarian video on YouTube.
  • Paul Brunneau, an Ojibway sculptor, has sold pieces to collectors in      Denmark, Italy, Mexico, Bahamas, Germany, and the United States. His work       has been featured on CTV’s Regional Contact, at the Muskoka Fine Arts      Summer Show, and at the Stone Carver’s Show in Bancroft Ontario, where he      exhibited a 4,000-pound piece made entirely of marble.
  • Anita Tuharsky, a Métis poet from Regina, Saskatchewan, is      often compared to Lily Tomlin for her use of humour to express the      absurdities of life. For Tuharsky, “Problems are challenges are lessons      are opportunities are gifts.”
  • Willy Bruce, an artist of Anishinabe and Scottish descent, is a      native veteran, a pipe carrier and a carrier of the Aboriginal Veterans’      Eagle Staff. Willy is currently lodge keeper at the Circle of Nations       Learning Centre at Natural Resources Canada. His traditional works are      conceived as vehicles for Aboriginal teachings.

Oxford University England Afghan Voices Video

Voices from Afghanistan video posted on Forced Migration BLOG of University of Oxford, January 2008.


The Voices from Afghanistan video, part of the Voices of Refugees Installation, was posted in the Forced Migration BLOG of Online Refugee Studies Centre of the University of Oxford England’s Department of International Development (QEH) in January 2008.


University of Oxford Backgrounder

The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University or simply Oxford) is a collegiate research university located in Oxford, England, United Kingdom. While having no known date of foundation, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest university in continuous operation.


It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled northeast to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two “ancient universities” are frequently jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.


Voices from Afghanistan Video

Notable Graduates from Oxford University
Theresa May
(1956- ) St Hugh’s Jul 2016 Conservative
David Cameron
(1966- ) Brasenose May 2010-Jul 2016 Conservative
Tony Blair
(1953-  )St John’s May 1997-Jun 2007 Labour
Margaret Thatcher
(1925-2013) Somerville May 1979-Nov 1990 Conservative
Harold Wilson
(1916-1995) Jesus Oct 1964-Jun 1970 Labour Mar 1974-Apr 1976
Edward Heath
(1916-2005) Balliol Jun 1970-Mar 1974 Conservative
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
(1903-1995) Christ Church Oct 1963-Oct 1964 Unionist/Conservative
Harold Macmillan
(1894-1986) Balliol Jan 1957-Oct 1963 Conservative


The Refugee Studies Centre Overview

The Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) was founded in 1982 as part of the Oxford Department of International Development (Queen Elizabeth House) at the University of Oxford. Their mission is to build knowledge and understanding of the causes and effects of forced migration in order to help improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. They aim to lead the world in research and education in the area of refugee and forced migration studies and to share our work on a national and global scale. They seek to realise this vision by taking forward new and transformative approaches to research, teaching and engagement with society, informed by Oxford’s long traditions of independent scholarship and academic freedom. A world-class centre for the study of forced migration and refugees has been created at the University of Oxford. With its pioneering research and innovative education and training programmes, the Refugee Studies Centre has had a major constructive influence throughout the developed and developing world and has stimulated effective international networks. In the early 1980s Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond undertook research regarding one such challenge: how to improve the performance of humanitarian agencies in the field. During fieldwork in Algeria she realised the paucity of academic literature available on the subject, and on her return to Oxford she founded the Refugee Studies Centre (then known as the Refugee Studies Programme).

Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal

Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal, Retrospective of features North-South-East-West, 2008.


The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal’s Electronic Magazine,  issue No 32 a Retrospective of, features North-South-East-West Web Site in December 2008.


The North-South-East-West web site was reviewed as follows:


About the well-known work of Graham Thomson, North-South-East-West, we will recall his operating mode first of all, like its organization.     With the opening of the URL an interface of reception informs us of the format of the work, carried out under Flash.


If the hyperlector chooses not to have any action, it will discover a sequence of four distinct sequences:

  • a very fast succession of images lets to us guess a plan of country, or city. It is necessary to make use of several captures of screens, then to increase them, to realize that the plan in question is that of the Contracting State of Minnesota (or of the state), the USA. Area bordering, should it be pointed out, of the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, ancestral grounds of Algonkins;
  • an anthropomorphic figure, that one will be able to associate a totemic representation, becomes animated on a bottom of horizontal screens. A cube drawn in three D also rolls on the space representation which this screen constitutes;
  • in tone bluish, dark, a heavenly object occupies the bottom of a scene which seems left an space-opera. A hinged jib (Canadian technology?) approaches a unit which could be a space base;
  • finally, of the parabolas, fixed on pylons, roofs, seem to receive waves coming from the sky.   Once the hyperlector will have shelled dissolve-connected these four sequences, it will have to click on one or the other of the bonds hypertexts to discover a new interface – which will give him access to the contents of work itself.

In a very simple way, and as many works born on the Web could show it to us, the interface of work is appeared as a space metaphor. In top north, bellow the south, on the left the west and is on the right.


Under each of the four cardinal points, a list from five to eight names proposes to us, thanks to the hypertext link, to discover an animated sequence. Before returning on their contents, we stop a few moments on another element of the interface, which will be always present at the screen, méta-bars it navigation. The choices suggested by this méta-bar are as follows, rather similar to those which one can find on considerable sites: exit, home, contact, information.


The subparagraph “information” will teach us that work is inspired by the symbolic system of the cardinal points traditional of the people algonkin. One will not be thus surprised to have discovered only the plan which ravelled at any speed in introduction was that of a state in the past (and also in a contemporary way) populated algonkins.

All work then, can be included/understood starting from this aspect of the introduction. The history of the American settlement being supposed known of all, one could only be sensitive to the fact that the people algonkin, like all the indigenous people of two Americas, have a report/ratio with the eminently problematic territory, conflict, even painful.


This territory, that the Amerindian people had by force to divide with Europeans, it is represented here in extreme cases of the visible one. So much so that one is forced to fix the image by capture of screen, to discover that it was about a plan of Minnesota.

The territory, literally, is hidden, virtual. It is in addition the territory of the other, since the place names are for the majority resulting from the Anglo-Saxon space representation: Cambridge, Turkey Not, Normandale, etc… It is a case emblematic of the use of information technologies and communication – where the appearance and disappearance as well as the tape speed of the images make direction.

This territory hidden, evoked perhaps by this totemic dance of the introduction, then moved in the space, and finally reinvested on ground through the waves received by parabolas, the body of work then proposes to us to discover it.

It while clicking on different the items is contained under the headings North South – East – West that we will be able to open the sequences having for name:    winter, snow, elder, courage, ice, endurance (North), summer, spirit, quest, secrecies, bloom, vision, adolesence, youth (South), birth, dawn, spring, flower, sun (East), automn, adult, thunder, sunset, renewal, (West).

With the choice, one will stop on the sequence “Vision”, in the North heading, to hear the message whereby “Vision C not reveal”; or one will hear, in “Dawn” this thought animist “All that belongs to the earth belongs to me”. But there is not the essence of our reading: the quality of animations, of the spoken or sung sequences, all that is left with the appreciation of each visitor, according to his sensitivity. It will be noticed only that none the many rewards received by this work is usurped.

What must hold our attention, it is connect it simplicity of the device, behind which semiotics questions differently more complex hide.

The list of the items reproduced above informs us indeed that certain sequences are called in reference to the season (winter…) and in connection with such or such cardinal point; other sequences indicate natural phenomena (snow, ice, flower, sun, thunder); others milked in the human condition (elder, adolesence, youth, birth, adult); others still refer to human or animal qualities (courage, endurance…); and others finally with phenomena of calendarity (dawn, sunset, renewal).

What it is necessary to point of the finger, it is the extreme diversity of the items and the extremely different registers which they indicate: natural seasons (long calendarity), phenomena, age group, human and/or animal quality, short calendarity.

Consequently, the action to click on one or the other of these items, and the surprise to each time discover a different sequence by its setting in image, the absence or the presence of a said text, etc… puts the hyperlector in a situation of imbalance with the project openly announced by the work – which is, let us recall it, inspired of the symbolic system of the cardinal points of the nation algonkine. How indeed to build a knowledge of this cosmogony if no methodology is proposed by the author – and whereas we are in a new mode of expression?

Moreover, one will notice the readily enigmatic character of certain sequences – which seem to function according to a logic well more oneiric rational.

In short, none known in the past cognitive maps seems respected here: we find the linearity of the written text and its paratextuelle organization, neither the syntax of the cinematographic writing (fictional or documentary), nor the methodology of the museographic modes of exposure, etc…

It however remains that the work of Graham Thomson transmits a message well to us, and more still that a message the feeling to have shared a significant experiment.

The logic which seems to prevail is well more that of the dream – a dream directly connected to psyché of Amerindian people – a logic which one will be able to say transverse, for want of anything better for the moment.

It is perhaps the greatest quality of this work, which all at the same time enchants us in the most naive way, and reserves questions differently more difficult to us, having milked with semiotics, and the development of a specific critical language.

Xavier Malbreil

The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal Overview

The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal (CIAC) is a non-profit organisation administered by a board of directors and managed by personnel with an expertise in artistic production, communications and arts administration. The mandate of the CIAC is to disseminate contemporary art from Québec, Canada and abroad. Initially identified with the visual arts, the CIAC also showcases the creative practices of artists working in design, graphic art, art film and video, architecture and urbanism, and landscape architecture.

The CIAC’s aim is to make its activities accessible to the greatest possible number of visitors. It employs various strategies to achieve this, including exhibitions, conferences, discussions between artists and the public and educational activities for a variety of target groups. The CIAC has no permanent space for its activities. It temporarily occupies various locations suited to each event, whether a museum, an unused warehouse, a park or other public space, a gallery or exhibition venue, etc. First identified with the visual arts, the CIAC also disseminates the work of professionals in object design and graphic design, video and art film, architecture and town planning, architecture landscape.

From 1985 to 1996, the CWC was mainly noted for organizing the hundred days of Contemporary Art of Montreal.  In 1998, he set up the Montreal Biennale (BNL MTL), an international biennial included in the biennial network of major cities in the world. In addition to the organization of artistic events, the CIAC also carries out cultural work, aimed at an in-depth understanding of the stakes of contemporary art, which took the form of various programs of activities, in particular the annual competition Of Young Critics in Visual Arts (1997 to 2007).

Finally, the CIAC online edits the CIAC’s Electronic Magazine. This bilingual magazine (English and French) offers critical works and general information on active artists in the middle of the web art (or line art ) and the institutions that disseminate it.

Open Space Victoria, Welcome Back Ye Annunaki

Noxious Sector Collective exhibits Wet Nurses at Welcome Back Ye Annunaki show at Open Space Victoria, 2012


The Noxious Sector Collective features Sherry Tompalski’s “Wet Nurses” at the  Welcome Back Ye Annunaki show at Open Space Gallery in Victoria, British Columbia in November 2012


The Noxious Sector Collective – Welcome Back Ye Annunaki Show – Curated by Ted Hiebert & Doug Jarvis

Welcome Back Ye Annunaki merges inquiry about home and hospitality with speculation on the ancient alien theories of Zacharia Sitchin and others, who claim that humanity is a product of alien intervention, genetically engineered by a race called the Annunaki.


According to Sitchin the story of the Annunaki is engraved on the clay tablets of the ancient Sumerian people, along with details of the planet they come from, called Nibiru or Planet X. According to the myth, Nibiru is on a long elliptical orbit that brings it into proximity with our solar system only once every 3,600 years.



If the story proves true, the winter solstice of 2012 may mark the return of the Annunaki, as Nibiru re-enters proximity to the Earth. Welcome Back Ye Annunaki invites gestures of hospitality–host families willing to open their homes, hearts and imaginations, to guests from another world. In the spirit of cultural exchange, this exhibition seeks to bring together communities–real and imaginary–in a celebration of home and Earthly hospitality.


Welcome Back Ye Annunaki at Open Space Gallery Victoria from Nov. 16, 2012 – Dec. 21, 2012 – Participating artists

Sherry TompalskiCindy Baker & Megan Morman
Katie Bethune-Leamen
Marlaina Buch & Ross Macaulay
Roy Green
Robert Gallup & Josh Kopel
Karen Hibbard Kruno Jost
Serena Kataoka
Robin Kirkpatrick
Kegan McFadden
Mary-Anne McTrowe
Ella Morton
Ryan Park
IO Sound
Shawn Shepherd
Rhonda Usipiuk
Christine Walde


Curatorial Statement

How would you host an imaginary friend, a special guest from an alien world returning to Earth after a 3600 year journey? What would you make them to eat? Where would you set them up in your house to sleep? What kind of gift would you give them to welcome them to your home?

There is a curious version of the human story that comes from the pseudo-archeologist, Zecharia Sitchin, who claims that humanity is a product of alien intervention, genetically engineered by a race called the Annunaki. Sitchin claims that the story of the Annunaki is engraved on the clay tablets of the ancient Sumerian people, along with details of the planet they come from, called Nibiru or Planet X. According to Sumerian myth, Nibiru is on a long elliptical orbit that brings it into proximity with our solar system only once every 3,600 years. If the Sumerian myths prove correct, the winter solstice of 2012 may mark the return of the Annunaki, as Nibiru re-enters proximity to the Earth. The science and the story may be contested–but we might nonetheless wonder what it might mean if these gods of ancient times returned to a world they helped to create–even if such a story exists only in our imaginations.

Welcome Back Ye Annunaki invites gestures of hospitality–host families willing to open their homes, hearts and imaginations, to guests from another world. One might think of an ancient alien as an imaginary friend waiting to be made, an ethereal companion to whom one might extend a spirit of Earthly generosity and community. The idea of hosting ancient aliens is–in this way–a questioning of our own personal space, speculating on what it means to make it accessible to others, and in so doing expose us to a larger imaginary community. This act of hospitality is meant as a way to reveal to us, and our own community, the biases and assumptions that we hold close to our heads and hearts, as our ways of being in the world. In the spirit of cultural exchange, this exhibition seeks to bring together communities–real and imaginary–in a celebration of home and Earthly hospitality.

Welcome Back Ye Annunaki is a project built on the idea of welcoming back our alien ancestors, inviting gestures of hospitality from members of the community who might like to welcome an Annunaki into their home. 18 artists from around the world have responded to the call for hospitality by creating projects that engage the Annunaki myth in their own creative ways. Cindy Baker & Megan Morman created a brothel designed to service the needs of alien visitors; Ella Morton created a set of intergalactic calling cards where visitors can leave a message for the Annunaki; Mary-Anne McTrowe hosted a potluck; Serena Kataoka built a sensory deprivation chamber in her bedroom with a live-stream feed to web. Others responded in their own ways too–each artist evoking the spirit of hospitality as it relates to the question of hosting an unknown visitor.

Welcome Back Ye Annuanki. This exhibition is our way of welcoming you back–by extending the gesture of hospitality to include others who might also like to welcome a visitation–whether by aliens, the imaginary, or otherwise unknown aspects of life as we know (and don’t know) it.

Doug Jarvis, MFA and Ted Hiebert, PhD

Welcome Back Ye Annunaki! – Open Space Gallery – Victoria BC – Nov 16-Dec 21, 2012

According to Zecharia Sitchin (1920-2010), an Azerbaijani-American amateur archaeologist, a race of aliens is about to arrive back here on Earth this year after an extended absence. Sitchin’s reading of ancient Sumerian scripts and mythology reveal the existence of the Annunaki, inhabitants of Nibiru, an undiscovered planet on a 3,600 year-long orbit. The Annunaki first visited Earth 450,000 years ago in search of minerals, but when their miners rebelled, the Annunaki were forced to genetically engineer a slave race. Humans.

Doug Jarvis, MFA and Ted Hiebert, PhD are the founding members of Noxious Sector, a collaborative art project known for performance hauntings (including an FB campaign to haunt Stephen Harper) and for organizing the World Telekinesis Competition. They are curating an exhibit that asks and suggests an answer to the question: how would we play host to our own alien creators, the Annunaki? With food, shelter and gifts, of course.

Seventeen artists from Canada, the U.S. and the Czech Republic are participating in the show, each with a creative and unique approach to the idea of welcoming strangers to our planet. As part of Open Space’s HomeStay project, a series of Circle Ceremonies will be led by Gerry Adams, a Kwakwaka’wakw elder. Welcome Back Ye Annunaki! is part of a larger ongoing celebration and investigation into issues related to cultural exchange and symbiosis.

Christine Clark


13th International TV Festival Bar Montenegro

Metis Media Installation videos presented at 13th International TV Festival Bar Montenegro 2008.


Graham Thompson presented videos from the Metis Media Installation at the 13th International TV Festival Bar Montenegro in October 2008.

Videos from the Métis Media Installation were presented with an artist’s talk at the International TV Festival Bar Montenegro in October 2008. The presentation included videos “The Anishinabe Woman,” “The Four Directions Webcast,” “John Maracle,” “Willy Bruce,” “Raymond Girard” and “Paul Bruneau.”


The International TV Festival Bar Montenegro is the largest television festival in South Eastern Europe was developed by visionary Ljiljana Ðindinovic, who created the annual event during the Balkans War in 1994 to help preserve ties between the nations of the former Yugoslavia.

Canadian Museum of Civilization, Metis Day

Canadian Museum of Civilization features videos Pauline’s Neighbourhood, The Jingle Dress Dance and Water is Associated with the North 2009.


Metis Day was held in the Grand Hall

Metis Day at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, now known as the Canadian Museum of History, featured the following videos “Pauline’s Neighbourhood,” “The Jingle Dress Dance” and “Water is Associated with the North” by Graham Thompson on February 08, 2009.


The Grand Hall is the architectural focal point of the Museum and houses the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles.

Canadian Museum of History Mandate:

“To enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.” (Canadian Museum of History Act)


The Canadian Museum of History welcomes over 1.2 million visitors each year to its celebrated complex in the heart of the National Capital Region, making it the country’s most-visited museum. With roots stretching back to 1856, it is one of Canada’s oldest public institutions and a respected centre of museological excellence, sharing its expertise in history, archaeology, ethnology and cultural studies both within Canada and abroad.


In addition to its ongoing exhibitions, including the spectacular Grand Hall and First Peoples Hall, each year the Museum presents a number of outstanding exhibitions focusing on Canadian and world history and civilizations. These exhibitions include those developed by the Museum as well as many produced by other Canadian or international institutions. The Museum is also home to the Canadian Children’s Museum, a 500-seat theatre and the CINÉ+, a 295-seat movie theatre equipped with a giant 3D screen and a giant dome. Online, the Canadian Museum of History presents a number of excellent virtual exhibitions, including the Virtual Museum of Canada and the Virtual Museum of New France.

Research activities are concentrated in the fields of history, archaeology, ethnology and cultural studies. The National Collection consists of more than four million artifacts, specimens, works of art, written documents, and sound and visual recordings. More than 218,000 artifacts in the collection are accessible in an online database.

Parliament of Canada, Refugee Voices

Federal Minister Jason Kenney launches the Voices of Refugees Installation at the Parliament of Canada in 2009.


The Voices of Refugees Installation was exhibited at the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa Ontario June 16, 2009. The multimedia event featured 8 portraits of refugees from Central America, Central Asia and Africa, with segments of their life stories displayed on four large screen video monitors and was introduced by Federal Minister Jason Kenney.

The Voices of Refugees Project at the Canadian Parliament

The event involved 4 large video displays, 10 short films, 8 portraits and the music of Tito Medina, revolutionary singer from Guatemala in celebration of World Refugee Week. The project was reviewed by Radio Canada International’s Link Program, Tony Martins of Guerrilla Magazine of Ottawa and Alan Neal on CBC’s Ottawa Morning.


The event included the following speakers: The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Abraham ABRAHAM the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative in Canada. The projects partners included United Nations, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Coalition of New Canadians for Art and Culture. The project’s funders included the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council, City of Ottawa and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.


Tito Medina Backgrounder

Mayan musician and activist Tito Medina was just a kid when his songs got him into trouble in his home country Guatemala. After fleeing Guatemala he lived in several countries – Nicaragua and Mexico – before settling in Canada.


Tito Medina in front of his Portrait

Tito recounts, “I started to sing songs about what was happening in my country when I was twelve years old. I have two brothers that are still missing, disappeared. My mom was heavily tortured both by national forces and foreign international advisers and mining companies, that have small armies locally. They force the people out of their communities, you know, they just to strike gold or nickel or something. We need to learn to forgive but we don’t have to forget.”


Victor Fuentes Video Transcript

SINGING: What’s the use of having so much, What the use of having so much power, If when the day of my death comes, Nothing, absolutely nothing, I am going to take with me. What the use of having so many possessions? What is the use of all these wealth? When there are so many that have nothing? No even a bread on the table? SPEAKING: I was almost killed in my country, I was tortured, I was arrested on 2 occasions, I was a student at the National Salvadorian University. 1 week the first time, with no food, no sleeping, no water, being beaten up by 7 soldiers, although, I couldn’t see anybody. The first time I was put into a torture chamber, they put me on a chair and I was blindfolded. I was hand cuffed in the back. There was a minute of silence, complete silence, before they started to beat me up.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada Press Release




Guerilla Magazine Ottawa, Talking Portraits

Talking Portraits reviewed by Tony Martins of Guerilla Magazine Ottawa, 2008.


The Talking Portraits Series was review by the Guerilla Magazine of Ottawa Canada in an article entitled Portraiture by Intuition by Tony Martins in issue #8 in June 2008.

Portraiture by Intuition by Tony Martins

Do we create images of who we are on our own or through unseen collaboration with others? The “Talking Portraits” installations of wife and husband Sherry Tompalski and Graham Thompson use technology to capture a “co-creation” that is mostly invisible, highly intuitive, and quintessentially human.


Rarely have I seen such compelling evidence of human intuition as I did on the morning I arrived at Sherry Tompalski’s studio to serve as subject for one of her portraits. I had met with the Tompalski and her husband Graham Thompson (both are Ottawa-based artists) a few weeks earlier over coffee to discuss possible treatments of their new multi-media collaboration in Guerilla. When Tompalski suggested that I could obtain a first-hand view of things by sitting for a portrait, I readily agreed and we began to make arrangements.


The Talking Portraits series documents the creation of Tompalski’s oil-on-canvas portraits using three integrated components: the finished portrait; a time-lapse video of the portrait in the making; and an audio recording of whatever Tompalski’s subjects verbalize while beneath the gaze of the portraitist. As you may see in the three talking portraits we present here, the sum total is an almost spooky emergence of a distinct personality through shape, colour, image, and sound. Tompalski is a practicing psychiatrist. For her, the series serves as visual confirmation that “90% of what goes on between two people is unconscious”—an idea she credits to Daniel Stern, a professor of psychiatry and psychology and a noted expert in mother-infant relationship.


In a slightly different sense, the Talking Portraits are an instance of co-construction, “the theory that there is a mutual reciprocal bi-directional interaction between two people that is unconscious,” explains Tompalski.

Which is sort of like a fancy way of saying intuition—which brings me back to that morning in Tompalski’s studio.

The smiling portraitist greeted me at the door and ushered me upstairs, where Thompson was attending to his video and audio set up. A 3×3-foot canvas was already positioned on an easel. It was nearly covered with large square swaths of purple paint.


“This is the colour that reflects my impression of you after our first meeting,” explained Tompalski.

“Actually, purple is my favorite colour,” I replied.

“Well, there you go,” said Tompalski.

There was laughter and then knowing smiles all around. Simply by conversing over a cup of coffee, Tompalski and I had already begun to “co-create” my portrait. She had intuited the colour that best represents my conception of self and confidently used it as the foundation for the portrait.

Although Tompalski and Thompson have been married for 25 years, Talking Portraits is their first formal artistic collaboration. The idea began to take shape late last year, when the couple returned from an Asian tour where Thompson presented his digital artwork through a variety of new media installations.


“Graham decided to document the series of large faces I was painting, as he was interested in capturing my intuitive approach to portraiture. We viewed the videos together, saw the possibilities, and began experimenting with voice tracks, music and time-lapse photography.”

On Friday, May 26, the Talking Portraits made a one-night appearance at Ottawa’s La Petite Mort Gallery. Previously, the Talking Portraits have appeared at the Red Salon Artists in Ottawa, the Bridge Street Gallery in Carleton Place, the Steam Whistle Gallery in Toronto (where the portrait “Sam” is in the permanent collection), and at the Ontario Psychiatric Association annual meeting in Toronto.

After the LPM show, the series was slated to appear at Ottawa’s Cumberland Gallery and Cube Gallery. The first international solo show of the Talking Portraits takes place at the ARC Gallery in Chicago in November and early December.


Tompalski says the next phase in the Talking Portraits evolution will include a 90-minute ambient video version.

“The project will be shot in high definition video and the portraits will develop very slowly, in a hypnotic soothing way, and will be shown on a large screen,” Tompalski explained.

Recalling how I had yammered on about myself while sitting for my portrait, I wondered how other Talking Portraits subjects had behaved.

“I have no expectation that the person must talk, and as a result, there is a great deal of variety,” said Tompalski.

“For example, one woman sat for four hours and made only one comment. However that comment was extremely poignant and meaningful.”

Canadian Centre for International Justice

Voices of Refugees Posters exhibited at 2008 formal launch of Canadian Centre of International Justice, Speakers included Maher Arar, Lloyd Axworthy, and Ellen Gabriel.


Posters from the Voices of Refugees Installation were exhibited at the June 2008 formal launch of the Canadian Centre of International Justice in Ottawa Canada. Speakers included Maher Arar, Lloyd Axworthy, and Ellen Gabriel.

Maher Arar, Lloyd Axworthy, and Ellen Gabriel

Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen who was forcibly sent to Syria in 2002 as part of the United States’ “extraordinary rendition” program. He was imprisoned in Syria for 10 months and tortured. In 2004, after his release, Maher filed a lawsuit in the United States against several individual U.S. officials for their role in his detention and torture. In November 2009, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the suit. CCIJ, along with other Canadian human rights organizations and scholars, filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in support of Maher’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.


On June 14, 2010, the high court refused to hear the case, effectively eliminating Maher’s final hope for justice in the U.S. judicial system. Maher’s attempt to hold the governments of Syria and Jordan accountable in Canadian courts was also denied when those countries were given immunity under Canada’s State Immunity Act.


Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, had a distinguished political career spanning 30 years. The founding Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Axworthy is now President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg. He has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.


Ellen Gabriel (born 1959), also known as Katsi’tsakwas, is an Mohawk activist and artist from Kanehsatà:ke Nation – Turtle Clan, known for her involvement as the official spokesperson, chosen by the People of the Longhouse, during the Oka Crisis. In March 1990, she joined in the movement against the expansion of a golf course in Oka, Quebec. That event eventually escalated into the Oka Crisis. In order to raise awareness of the crisis, she traveled internationally, including visits to The Hague, Strasbourg and Japan. During this time, in May 1990, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia University. In 1993, the documentary Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance was released; she was a prominent part of the film. The next decade after the crisis had been settled, she worked as an Art Teacher for the Mohawk Immersion School. In 2004, she was elected president of the Quebec Native Woman’s Association. She held the position until December 2010. During this time she brought changes to the Indian Act in the form of Bill C-31. On 19 May 2009, she gave a speech to the eighth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Between 11–15 July 2011, she gave a speech to the fourth session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In the Summer of 2012, she ran for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. She passed to the second round of votes and was eliminated in the second round due to misinformation on the floor which rumored she had withdrawn and given her votes to Shawn Atleo. On 7 May 2013, in regards to Bill S-2, she gave a speech to the 41st Parliament, 1st Session at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.


Canadian Centre for International Justice’s mission is to:

  1. Seek recognition, support, and compensation as redress for survivors of genocide, torture, and other atrocities with strong connections to Canada, as well as for loved ones of people who have either died as a result of human rights violations or who are unable to contact us themselves;
  2. Ensure that those in Canada accused of serious human rights violations are held accountable and brought to justice;
  3. Contribute to the success of the international justice system as a whole.

To carry out this mission, CCIJ works in cooperation with affected communities and individuals in Canada and abroad and in collaboration with a variety of domestic and international organizations and experts.

Canadian Centre for International Justice five primary objectives

  1. Provide information, assistance, and direction to survivors of human rights abuses and the loved ones of victims; carry out and/or facilitate research and investigations of their cases; compile cases to be brought to the attention of the Canadian government or other authorities;
  2. Support government initiatives leading to the prosecution in Canada of torturers, war criminals, and perpetrators of severe human rights abuses, and support other appropriate remedies;
  3. Educate & train legal professionals, civil society groups, and the general public in Canada about impunity as a critical human rights issue;
  4. Serve as a resource for anti-impunity initiatives across Canada, including access to Canadian and international jurisprudence and information regarding Canadian law, policy, and practice;
  5. Support ongoing efforts to reform law in order to strengthen the legal remedies available in Canada for survivors and victims of serious human rights abuses.

Ottawa Carleton District School Board Metis Murals

Ottawa Carleton District School Board invites Metis Murals Project into their classrooms for Metis story telling, computer graphics and painted hardboards.


In 2008 the Ottawa Carleton District School Board invited the Metis Murals Project into their classrooms. The multimedia project included Metis story telling and the creating of murals using archival images, drawings, collage, computer graphics and painted hardboard.

Have the Metis Mural Project at Your School

Large Scale Murals – Available for All Grades – Your students can design and develop a large scale mural based on the history of Canada – featuring stories of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Scottish Fur Traders, the Métis, the Cree, the Orkney Islands, York Factory, Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont and Chief Poundmaker.

Project Requirements – 5 Day Program – Each project must be a minimum of 5 days (25 hours). Each day is defined as 5 hours of artist-to-student work time. The 25 hours of artist-to-student time can be split up and extended over more than 5 days as long as the time is spent working with the same group of learners.



  • photocopy 10 ARCHIVAL IMAGES per student
  • 1 scissors for each student
  • 3 – 17×11 construction paper for each student
  • glue sticks for each student
  • 500 sheets of  8.5X11 white paper
  • pencils for each student
  • 4’X8’ hardboard
  • gesso to prime the surface of each hardboard
  • 5 TUBS of non toxic acrylic paint (yellow, blue, red, white, green
  • 10 carpenters pencils for students (sturdy graphite pencils to mark design onto primered hardboard
  • 20 paints brushes that vary in size to paint hardboard.
  • 1 mercator projector


Day 1 – Research + Design Workshops (5 hour)

First Period. Hand-out photocopies. talk to student about the 5 day mural project. Give a 50 minute PowerPoint presentation The following topics are included in the presentation: The importance, in 17th century Europe, of the beaver hat The arrival of Scottish fur traders on the western edge of Hudson’s Bay. York Factory, as a fur trading center. The role of Aboriginal Women in their marriage to the newly arrived fur traders. The Métis as children of the fur trade. The Métis as middlemen in the fur trade The importance of pemmican in the new economy The Métis invention of the York Boat and the Red River Cart  The development of the Métis buffalo hunt. The development of Métis Clothing. The development of Métis Spirituality. The expansion of Canada into the northwest in 1869. The expansion of the transcontinental railway system westward. The movement of new Canadians into traditional Métis settlements. The battle of Duck Lake Saskatchewan, the site of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. The trial of Louis Riel.

Period 2 + 3 The students break into groups to create collages from the ARCHIVAL IMAGES of Canada (First Nations, Metis, Fur Traders) ACTIVITY – develop collage art made from photocopies of archival images of Aboriginal people. Students will cut out archival images and glue them onto the construction paper in order to make a collage.

Period 4 + 5  ACTIVITY Develop drawings based on collage artworks. AS well student will opportunity to view videos, and create cartoons if they so desire. Students will at end of session present work infront of the class and group will vote as to who’s work gets made into a mural. Gesso the hardboard in preparation for the painting of the mural.

Day 2 – Mural Layout Workshop (5 hour)

ACTIVITY ( 5 Hours) Beak students onto groups, assigned to trace the selected design onto the hardboard. Project selected artwork onto 4X8 sheet of hardboard, and draw projected image onto hard board with pencils. Check work from a distance. Get feedback on the look of the image Make adjustments as required

Day 3 + 4 – Mural Painting Workshop (5 hours/day)

ACTIVITY ( 5 Hours/day) Move hardboard onto the floor and paint mural with acrylic paints onto hardboard. Clean up with water.

Day 5 – Mural Painting Workshop (5 hours/day)

ACTIVITY ( 5 Hours)  Finish painting murals on hardboards.  Review finished work and wrap-up project. Clean up with water.


Professional Development – “A valuable professional development opportunity that enabled me to develop new skills and approaches.”

Engages Students – “Graham was able to engage students who are not normally engaged, especially those with autism and developmental delays – Graham was highly successful in fine tuning his activities to the needs of the students in his approach to teaching visual arts. He also interacted with staff and students in a professional and caring manner. Graham’s interest in the youth and the topics he covered provided a rich artistic learning experience for our students.”

A Fresh Approach to History and Art – “I saw new tactics in the classroom, I saw what my kids were capable of – Graham did an excellent job directing and supporting the students. Thank you so much, this program was amazing!”

Aboriginal Peoples and the Fur Trade – “ The students were motivated by Graham’s media presentation on the historic Canadian fur trade and his approach to designing images from this period through the use of collage, hand drawings and paintings, he supported me to meet specific learning outcomes outlined in the arts curriculum, knowledge of elements, creative work and critical thinking, he created an additional opportunity for learners to collaborate, cooperate and celebrate their talents and each other – extremely effective, a huge sense of accomplishment for students and staff. I love the long term results!”