The MICH research cluster in the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies began under a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Grant:
Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage: a multi-media/multi-platform re-engagement of voice in visual art and performance.
MICH addressed the need for: 1) Access for Northern communities to digital information and communication technologies, 2) Connection of Inuit voice to objects of cultural heritage, and 3) Creation of Inuit-centric cultural capacity.
In 2022, at the close of funded research on the contribution of Inuit visual culture, art, and performance to Inuit language preservation, social well-being, and cultural identity, our cluster has re-visioned itself. The MICH cluster now extends to Mobilizing Indigenous Circumpolar Heritage, in recognition of global Indigenous bridges currently being sought around the Arctic.
Our interdisciplinary research and teaching undertaken through the Mobilizing Indigenous Circumpolar Heritage cluster addresses the centrality of cultural sovereignty for Inuit and Sámi decolonization. Persistent settler colonialism and systemic racism, Arctic climate change, tensions over resource extraction and environmental degradation exacerbate existing intergenerational Indigenous trauma, homeland displacement, language loss, poverty, addiction and suicide.
Our goal is to bring people together – students, faculty, the public and circumpolar Indigenous peoples – to support and to facilitate connection and trust for decolonial worldbuilding. As a collective our goal is to bear witness to different pasts understood outside of western epistemes, build relationships invested in Indigenous philosophies, unsettle historical and contemporary colonization in the Circumpolar North, and to work together to reckon colonial legacies and forge a realignment of responsible, reciprocal relationships.
Fundamental to our revisioned MICH is a holistic idea of cultural health foundational to all aspects of individual and community well-being for Inuit and Sámi. Communities and individuals are nourished by healthy environmental relationships, by the harvesting, processing and preparation of country food, and by art, craft and performance practices that bring Indigenous identities into focus. "Art," as explained by Inuk elder Peesee Pitsiulak-Stephens, "is part of every thing."
The interconnection of homeland claims, hunting, herding, country food preparation, sewing, art and archives for Inuit and Sámi grounds our interdisciplinary work on two ideas, inspired by terms offered by Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Taqralik Partridge: Inissaliortut, people making space for essential, difficult and future-building relations and planning; and Inuksuit, a term for country food meaning “that which makes us human.”
Anna Hudson, Associate Professor/AMPD is the Principal Investigator.
To learn more about the Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage project visit their website at http://mich.info.yorku.ca/about/