ArtsEverywhere Festival

The ArtsEverywhere Festival takes place in Guelph, Ontario, which is situated on land that is steeped in rich Indigenous history and home to many First Nations, Métis and Inuit people today. We would like to acknowledge that we are guests on the ancestral and treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation of the Aanishinaabek Peoples. Throughout history, this land and these waters have also been home to the Chonnonton Peoples (“People of the Deer”), as well as the Haudenosaunee from the south, and the Anishanaabe and Métis from the North. We offer respect as we strengthen our relationships with them. We express our gratitude for sharing these lands for our mutual benefit.

Program Overview
Suzy Lake, a groundbreaking artist whose identity-based work is foundational to an entire generation, will open the festival with a Big Ideas talk about her five decades of artistic production. Acclaimed Okanagan knowledge-keeper and writer, Jeannette Armstrong will deliver the keynote at The Guelph Lecture—On Being Canadian, now in its 14th year. Her research into Indigenous philosophies and Okanagan Syilx thought and environmental ethics has shaped her understanding of how relationships between humans determine our connection to the land. Ann Hui, our literary guest at The Guelph Lecture, will talk about her recent project, Chop Suey Nation, an insightful social documentary of Canada’s Chinese restaurants and their proprietors. Rounding out The Guelph Lecture evening, First Nations musicians from Northern Ontario, Midnight Shine brings us a sound that seamlessly mixes roots, classic and modern rock.

The third day of the ArtsEverywhere Festival will focus on two approaches to considering Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the context of marking Canada’s Sesquicentennial. A conversation with four West Coast scholars and artists will focus on the complexities of (re)conciliation in unceded territories, where treaties were never signed. The conversation will open with a performance by the celebrated Tahltan artist Peter Morin. That evening, we’ll conclude the festival with an unusual—and for some, frightening—performative conversation featuring seven of Canada’s finest Clown Artists. Clowns themselves are pathetic failures so the artists are well-positioned to debate the realities of failing and reconciling in Canada.

In partnership with the University of Guelph, the ArtsEverywhere Festival invites students to join the ArtsEverywhere Emerging Scholars. This program offers thirty graduate and undergraduate students a complimentary festival pass, a festival mentor, receptions with the speakers, an intimate 2-hour conversation with one of the speakers, and an opportunity to publish some festival insights at



Big Ideas Lecture in Art & Culture — Suzy Lake
January 19, 7-8:30pm (Art Gallery of Guelph)
Free Event. No registration required.
Co-presented by CAFKA and the Art Gallery of Guelph

Suzy Lake is among the first female artists in Canada to adopt performance, video, and photography to explore the politics of gender, the body, and identity. In her artistic practice, which spans nearly 50 years, Lake addresses the individual’s relationship to societal forces that break and reveal constructions or restraints built into our culture.


What Can I Do? — a workshop on ‘Doing Reconciliation’
January 20, 1:00-4:00pm (Musagetes, 6 Dublin Street South)

Workshop led by Chris Creighton-Kelly & Diane Roberts. Limited to 20 participants; to join the workshop please email a statement of interest to
This workshop is designed primarily for non-Indigenous Canadians who want to contribute towards ‘reconciliation’ with Indigenous peoples. Using deep listening and innovative, participatory techniques borrowed from theatre — such as embodied creative expression — participants will discover fresh ways of both locating themselves in this conversation and of imagining actions that they can create moving forward. Encouraged by the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this workshop will assist participants in understanding a ‘new creation story for Canada,’ as they answer the question, “What can I do?”


The Guelph Lecture—On Being Canadian
January 20, 7-9:30pm (River Run Centre, Main Stage)
Tickets: $20 adults/$15 students.

“Human Relationships as Land Ethic” — by Dr. Jeannette Armstrong, an Okanagan knowledge keeper, author, educator, artist, and activist
“Chop Suey Nation” — by Ann Hui, the Globe and Mail’s National Food Reporter
Midnight Shine—music that explores First Nations’ culture, tradition and life in the North


The Complexities of (Re)conciliation
January 21, 3:00-5:00pm (Guelph Black Heritage Society)
Free Event. No registration required.

Convened and moderated by France Trépanier, artist and curator from Victoria BC.
In conversation with…
Dr. Marianne Nicolson, an artist and member of the Dzawada’enuxw Tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations on Vancouver Island
Dr. Ashok Mathur, a South Asian cultural organizer, writer and visual artist, and the Head of the Department of Creative Studies at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan).
Opening performance by Peter Morin, Tahltan artist and scholar

In Canada, the colonial project was an east to west endeavour. As such, the impact of colonization takes a different shape in British Columbia—very few treaties with the Crown were signed; more ancestral languages are spoken; many ceremonies have been preserved and are still enacted; lots of stolen art objects have been repatriated. This panel will offer fresh perspectives from the territory now known as British Columbia that will help to reveal the complexities of (re)conciliation.


On Being Clown: Failing and Reconciling in Canada
January 21, 7:00-9:00pm (River Run Centre, Cooperators’ Hall)
Tickets: $20 adults/$15 students.

Performance by clown artists Julia Lane, Jan Henderson, Christine Lesiak, Barry Bilinsky, Mike Kennard, Heather Annis, and Amy Lee.
Music performance by Tara Williamson.

For settlers, reconciliation requires the ability and the will to acknowledge, to absorb, and confront our failures. Throughout our lives we are taught to avoid and erase failure, and to seek out and embody the familiar markers of success defined by the dominant culture. As a practice embedded in several cultures and traditions, clowning disrupts conventional understanding of, and relationships to failure and success. For the clown, the path to success is often informed and enriched through a fearless relationship with failure. Given this unique privileging of the potential and possibilities achieved through failure, clowns may be well positioned to offer unique insights and tools into important actions of advancing (radical) reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the place we now call Canada.

What does it mean to be a clown? Who are the contemporary Canadian Clowns? Where are they? How did they get there and, oh my, what are they doing? We have gathered together six influential clown performers and one clown moderator, whose work stems from distinct traditions and whose performative styles vary widely. These seven contemporary artists will put their heads (and possibly also the rest of their bodies) together, to consider the tradition of clowning in Canada, the notion of failure, and its role in the reconciliation process. This hybrid discussion/performance promises to be insightful, eventful, impactful, disruptive, distinct, distinguished, and, above all, thought provoking. Please come prepared to throw your questions out to the panel and see what they can make of them.

This event was co-curated by Julia Lane, a clown scholar at Simon Fraser University, and Elwood Jimmy, program coordinator at Musagetes.