Maureen Flynn-Burhoe November 2006

From wiki user info:

I have taken a break from my PhD which examines the potential of concepts such as memory work for revisiting distorted histories particularly in response to the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) undertaken by the federal government of Canada using a Participatory Action Research methodology. I have turned to wikipedia and other Web 2.0 technologies to collaborate with others who want to contribute to a nuanced dialogue within a framework of civil society. In a sense I am attempting to move beyond academia to a larger community of knowers. There are limitations to what can be done in the name of research in embodied cultural institutions with which I am connected. I would like to investigate how knowledge can be managed differently using the capacity of the Internet for collaboration. I will focus on those areas of interdisciplinary investigation undertaken through my decades of inextricably linked teaching, learning and research.

I admire the organic process by which wiki articles develop through the work of volunteers. I really do relate to the way that sparks of insight emerge through clashes of opinion.

I began to contribute to wikipedia as a guest making an edit to the Canadian Inuit section c. 2005?. I began to do more focused research with the Canadian Inuit community in the early 1990s. My MA in Canadian Studies,Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, CA (1995) submitted as a CD-ROM, examined how interactive multimedia technologies, specifically Toolbook authoring software, could be useful to a more non-hierarchical approach to enhancing understanding of Inuit art.

While still enrolled full-time in my PhD, Carleton University’s Dennis Forcese offered me a teaching position in Nunavut. From 2002-2003 I lived and worked in Iqaluit, Nunavut for 18 months (off and on) in a joint pilot project between Nunavut Arctic College and Carleton University’s Centre for Initiatives in Education. I developed northern-centred Carleton University BA credit courses on Human Rights and Sociology courses that would give students living and working in Iqaluit the opportunity to begin, advance or complete their BAs while continuing to work full-time in Nunavut. The majority of students were adult Inuit, many of whom worked for the Nunavut government.

From the early 1990s onward I had formed lasting friendships with Ottawa, Ontario’s urban Inuit through contract work with the National Gallery of Canada, the Inuit Art Foundation and front-line researcher on Donna Patrick’s, PhD Urban Inuit Research Project. I was deeply moved by the suicide epidemic which continues to threaten every small hamlet in Northern Canada. Since leaving Nunavut I have formed even stronger ties with urban Inuit including elders who are now willing to share stories kept hidden.

As I add entries I will be scrupulous in ensuring that every detail has the most robust reference that readers can easily verify. If I make errors I would like them to be corrected by editors who are are as concerned about standards of credibility as I am. References, particularly regarding research on Inuit culture needs to recognize the most recent contributions by authoritative sources. The formation of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in the 1970s was part of a larger shift in thinking about indigenous peoples worldwide. In Canada in the 1970s, Inuit and First Nations began to hire their own researchers and direct participatory research projects on land occupation and use. Some of these aboriginal knowledge leaders went to government schools in the 1950s and were fully conversant in the use of archives for doing research.

I will be using as much as possible sources that are informed by research in which Inuit have been either participants or primary researchers. One of my former students, Kirt Ejesiak now has an MA from Harvard. Paul Okalik the Premier of Nunavut had a law degree as well as a sound knowledge of IQ Inuit traditional knowledge. While some of the sources produced prior to the 1970s has a potential for being mined for information, it is unproductive to use these works as primary resources without contextualizing them and linking them to later research which reveals why their language, if not certain historical data, is not longer sophisticated enough for a post-RCAP teaching, learning and research climate.

I became a registered user only recently. I will continue to watch and contribute to articles on memory work and Inuit.

–oceanflynn 22:07, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

My .rss feeds

CUAG MA 1993

4 Responses to “About”

  1. whereisian Says:

    Saw you comment on Digg.
    It’s interesting to meet a crossover cultural academic/web geek who works in heritage.

    I’m currently working as the ‘computer guy’ for at Carleton U with the GRASAC project – Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Culture. Give the site a visit – hope you enjoy (although not much to see yet)

  2. Crossover cultural academic and web geek, a title I will wear with pride. I think I want a T-shirt. It is so difficult to put a label on what I do.

    If ldhertert or Blunty have used nmap -v -iR 100000 -P0 -p 80 and have landed here by mistake they might want to stop reading now because all the rest is a long ramble with really long paragraphs. Sorry Ian this is not at all directed at you or anyone you work with. I use the blog here as healing by revealing.

    Yesterday I pulled this news-clipping from a box that had not been opened since we moved to BC in January 2006. It’s a photo of a group in CUAG in front of Robert Houle’s large canvas, a socially-engaged artist’s comment on West’s the ‘Death of General Wolfe.’ I had suggested we stand in the lower gallery so the perspective would be original and we could all be visible. Beth Greenhorn and Susan Close, my fellow grad students were among this first cohort who started in September 1992 as Canadian Studies grad students and graduated a few years later with an M.A. in Canadian Art History. Mame was my grad supervisor, and in many ways remains my inspiration, mentor and dear friend. Ruth, Mame and Natalie Luckjy provided an unparalleled teaching, learning and research experience where students picked up on their relationships of mutual respect, encouragement with lots of laughter, strong ethical component. We all supported, encouraged each other. Most of us went on to do really fulfilling writing, research, teaching, curatorial work.

    With Mame’s full encouragement for my MA (1995) I explored ways in which interactive multimedia might enhance understanding of the art of Jessie Oonark (1906-1985) RCA, OC. Carol Dence, was the Director of the Teaching and Learning Resource Centre. Together with Nestor Querido Carol made incredible things happen at TLRC. Nestor let me use his PC after hours so I worked every evening from five until the McOdrum building closed. As my work became too memory intense John Shepherd, Mame and Carol found $800 between their departments to buy Backpack? backup system so I wouldn’t lose everything. I was denied the right to submit a CD-ROM unless I accepted to complete my MA as course work no thesis. There was concern that i would be setting a precedent and there were long discussions about accessibility in the future and archival quality. But my final Research Paper was not paper it was indeed a stand-alone CD-ROM.

    Between Mame, Carol and Nestor, with virtually no funding as I completed my MA part-time while working at the NGC, I was able to use the TLRC computers, Internet connections, harware, software and a myriad of other technological resources to produce an MA in CD-ROM format. I used ToolBook, EndNote, FoxPro with a PC and Mac’s Inspiration software. My work was acknowledged at the time in articles, conferences, etc. I was invited to speak in other professor’s classes. I heard from students and others that Natalie used my CD-ROM regularly before she died. One student described this project with enthusiasm to me when he realized I was interested in Inuit art. When I tried to explain that I had authored it, he tried to reassure me that I hadn’t.

    As it stands now, since I am on medical leave from my CU PhD I no longer have access to any of my files. ToolBook’s newer versions created havoc with older versions and I do not therefore have a working copy of my own MA! I suppose I should ask Nestor to access the archived files on Backxxx.

    Compared to Web 2.0 I basically produced a hypertext web-page with audio and video clips, hotlinked images and text, including mouse-overs, without the web. One part of it I would really like to have now are the audio clips including the voice of Jessie Oonark herself, describing what it was like to meet Rasmussen, her first encounter with a white man. Another favourite part was the way I could use layers so that the voices of the artist, art historians and anthropologists did not compete as knowledge claims. I could develop Oonark’s heightened tolerance of ambiguity which came through as visual puns. One image would refer to different things depending on the angle — horizontal or vertical for example.

    CU has not treated me fairly but that story is not appropriate here.

    My interest has expanded from Inuit art to critical Inuit studies. Ruth noted that I had been working on the theme of a positive presence of absence. It is true and I still am. Now, However I use my blog since I can express my concerns about the perils of group think that hide the stories of vulnerable populations with whom we work. I am deeply concerned that I could have studied Inuit art and culture, reading and contributing for the Inuit Art Quarterly and presenting at Inuit Studies conference for ten years (1992-2002)only to find out in a graveyard in Nunavut that the moral imperative to reveal not conceal is not being heeded. There are so many inconvenient truths that are simply accepted as “It’s just the way it is.” I am ashamed to have been part of those researchers who are fascinated by grandfather’s legends while choosing to not see, not write grandmother’s bruises. There are no more excuses. Disciplinary boundaries are not an excuse to withhold essential context. By concealing under pretext of protection we are complicit. No cultural studies can afford to be disentangled from widely publicized human rights concerns. The long term risks of silence with its unintended consequence of continuing to perpetuate distorted histories of First Nations, Metis and Inuit is far greater than the short term discipline-based benefits of telling stories of things made by First Nations, Metis and Inuit without revealing the conditions in which artists and their communities continue to live in their everyday lives. No one should be shocked when they learn of the suicide death of a Benjamin Chee Chee.

    Two more comments and then I promise I will go through the portal to the real embodied everyday world where my husband awaits with a take-out Tim’s coffee.

    At this time Lévi-Strauss (1963) was attracted to the arts of indigenous peoples such as Haida artist Bill Reid predicting (accurately) that objects made by them would one day be narrated as high art in western museums offering an alternative to the products of angst-ridden modernity. It is ironical that in affect, Bill Reid like his contemporaries Robert Davidson and Robert Houle raided the archives in the 1960s (Macdonald 1993:38) as catalysts for memory to reclaim history by recreating visual culture. In a similar way Inuit artist David Ruben Piqtoukun reconstructed lost iconography through visits to the archives in the 1980s. Anthropologists like Franz Boas and Lévi-Strauss ─ strong advocates of First Nations and Inuit art and culture (Boas 1940, 1964 Levi-Strauss 1943, 1952, 1958, 1966, 1978), contributed unwittingly to the confiscation of indigenous long-term memory by collecting and storing crucial artifacts in distant museums in Ottawa, New York, Washington, London and Paris.

    August (2005) I watched as Inuit artist XX carved on a makeshift table made from our garbage cans. He was homeless and stayed with us for three weeks as he got back on his feet. Over that time he gradually put some weight back on. His eye had been severely injured in a drunken or dope-induced fight. It was so eerie since one of his carvings depicted this years ago. It was almost like a prediction. While living on the streets he had lost all his front teeth. I told him about an Inuk who had used ivory to carve himself a set of dentures. He still had an incredible spirit and once he had eaten enough to get back into shape, he began to carve. We went to his closest friend’s home, an urban First Nation’s artist who has done a great deal for him to try to keep him healthy and productive. This is an almost impossible task with the weight he is carrying. I lent him two pairs of prescription glasses which he wore one over the other, his sight was so poor. It reminded me of M.C.Escher who wore multiple lenses for details. I am an artist but I have never been around that kind of energy. Yet he was courteous, honest, conversational respectful not hyper and focused only on his work. He is so proud of his son who has just started university. He is deeply grateful to his exwife for the way she has brought up their son. I didn’t take a photo of his work. I felt like I would be taking advantage of him in some inexplicable way. When I became ill he came to see me in the hospital. He brought me a carving made of and inspired by the shape of the hip joint of the seal, the part of the seal that women eat for strength. Its base was whalebone. I can hold it in my hand and my fingers wrap around the shapes as if it were indeed made for my hand. It is a woman, not a young woman, but around her are other women’s heads as if there were one. Her tattooed face shows deep anguish and she appears to be bent under the weight of something carried inside her but one of her arms spreads like an eagles wing. It reminded me of the stories of his grandmother but it also reminded me of myself and my urban Inuit friends. See below.

    GRASAC project – Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Culture looks promising. Please keep me posted as it develops. I can review it and connnect it to my rhizomic blog architectonics when it is ready.


    1993. “The new M.A. in Canadian Art History is up and running.” ‘This Week at Carleton.’ 14:16:1.

    Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1999 “Shape-shifting and other points of convergence: Inuit art and digital technologies.” Art Libraries Journal. London: Fall.

    Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1999. “Jessie Oonark: Woman in the Centre.” Inuit Art Quarterly. 14. no. 2. (Summer).

    Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1998. “CD Rom: The Process behind the Creation of “Woman in the Centre” womenspace. 34. (Fall). e-version:

  3. Alison Says:

    Hi Maureen!
    It is good to find you here. I’m back in Ottawa and would love to get together. Look me up at Wabano. Hope all is well. It will be wonderful to see you again. Take care. Alison

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