AlterKnowledge Discussion Series: What does it mean to be the problem?


In this exhibition by Fern Helfand, Tannis Nielsen & Samuel Roy-Bois, a young Caucasian boy’s cheeks are streaked with war paint as he proudly dons a feathered Indigenous war bonnet. A little girl’s face is colored black with chocolate Quik powder, and a black-skinned inflatable “Hug-a-Bug” doll dangles from her hand. This image from Helfand’s childhood lies at the axis of the exhibition. Issues of cultural appropriation, stereotyping, racism and privilege aim to challenge the viewer and to prompt them to think about how they too might be implicated no matter how innocent their actions might be.

The AlterKnowledge Discussion Series is a monthly forum for public dialogue, bringing UBCO and community participants together to discuss issues of social concern for members of the Okanagan community. For UBC’s Centennial year, AlterKnowledge is offering a special calendar of events to explore themes of “Relation, Identity, and Place” in the Okanagan. Focusing on historical and present-day relations between Indigenous peoples and newcomers or settlers, the series asks: How do students and citizens participate in place-making activities, contributing to public memory on campus and in the community? And what does it mean to be a guest in traditional Syilx territory, particularly since the Okanagan Nation first welcomed UBC to the valley in 2005? One hundred years after UBC’s founding, and ten years after the Okanagan Campus officially opened its doors, the AlterKnowledge Centennial Series will lead our campus and community in public conversations about our relationships and responsibilities to place. Events are free and open to the public.