Prismatic Arts Festival

The Talk

10636320_10152678039902264_1626891132208827301_nThe TALK at Prismatic 2016 brings stakeholders, such as audience members, artists, funders and professionals, together to engage in dialogue on current issues in the world of Canadian culture, diversity and professional development. The theme of for the 2016 TALK is: Bridging the Gap.

We invite you to join is in Halifax for Prismatic 2016. Conference sessions will take place at the Halifax Central Library September 22-24.



Opening Gala: Key Note Address by Simon Brault
September 21, 6PM – 9PM | Pier 21 (Kenneth C. Rowe Hall)

Prismatic 2016 is honoured to welcome Simon Brault, O.C., O.Q., Director and CEO Canada Council for the Arts/Directeur et chef de la direction, Conseil des arts du Canada. Mr. Brault will be giving the Prismatic 2016 keynote address at the Opening Gala.

Participating Panelists and Artists:

Cris Derksen

Cris Derksen is a Juno-nominated Indigenous cellist and composer known for building sound layers in captivating performances. Her music braids the traditional and contemporary in multiple dimensions, weaving her classical training and her Indigenous ancestry with new school electronics, creating genre-defying music. Originally from Northern Alberta, Cris Derksen hails from a line of chiefs from North Tall Cree reserve on her father’s side and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s side. She earned a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance at UBC and shared the title of Principal Cellist with the UBC Symphony Orchestra. She was also Curator in Residence at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. Cris Derksen was nominated for the Instrumental Album of the year at the 2016 Juno Awards.

Rebecca Thomas

Rebecca Thomas is a Nova Scotia-based Indigenous slam poet. She is the current Poet Laureate for Halifax who works in Student Services and provides Indigenous Support. Rebecca serves as an ambassador to her community and an advocate for literacy. She says that, “Poetry can give a voice to the voiceless. Poetry can make a powerless person feel powerful. This is why I speak.” Rebecca’s goal is to raise awareness and educate people about the history of First Nations people within Halifax and the issues her community faces today. She also is active in supporting youth engagement and diversity education with the use of her skills in poetry.


Session 1: Statues and Silence
September 22, 9AM – 11:30AM | Central Library (Program Room)

How are Canadian communities addressing the tension between commemorating the settler history of Canada and recognizing the harms that colonialism have visited upon Indigenous peoples?

Picking up on a recent failure of the Halifax Regional Municipality to support engagement around calls to remove the statue of Edward Cornwallis, the colonial authority that introduced genocidal policies that encouraged scalping Mi’kmaq men, women and children, Prismatic hosts a community discussion on efforts to reconcile through a critical analysis of local histories.

Hosted by Kaitlin Verge, B. Ed., this discussion will provide an opportunity to examine how different communities are addressing historical realities and giving voice to communities that have been silenced.

Participating Panelists and Artists:

Kaitlin Verge

Kaitlin Verge B.A, B.Ed; is an academic, social justice warrior and member of the Prismatic planning family. A Mi’kmaq woman of mixed ancestry, Kaitlin focuses on the marginalization of diverse people in the Halifax Regional Municipality and 21st century Indigenous identity in Nova Scotia.

Kayla Rudderham

Kayla Rudderham B.F.A, B.Ed; is an artist, teacher, beach explorer from Cape Breton Nova Scotia. A member of the Membertou reservation; Kayla’s art and teaching is influenced by her home and her surroundings. Focusing on reconciliation through art and culture, Kayla works to learn and give back to her community.

Lydia Johnson

Lydia Johnson B.Sc, BMgmt; is a Masters of Business Administration student at Dalhousie University. Throughout her career and education Lydia has participated in many panel discussions focusing on social justice and her community of Preston. Regularly discussing complex issues, Lydia works to fight community misrepresentation and racial stigma.


Session 2: Conflict/Culture/Community
September 22, 12:30PM – 2:30PM | CENTRAL LIBRARY (PROGRAM ROOM)

How is culture shaped and impacted by conflict and war? Which stories are visible and which stories are not being heard, and how war has impacted the diverse fabric of our Nova Scotia communities?

Prismatic is partnering with Mount St. Vincent’s University’s Network for Community-Engaged Research on War to present current academic work that examines artistic expression during times of war.

Participating Panelists and Artists:

Dr. Maya Eichler

Dr. Eichler is Canada Research Chair in Social Innovation and Community Engagement, and Assistant Professor in Political Studies and Women’s Studies at MSVU. She completed her Ph.D. at York University and has held post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Southern California, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the University of Toronto. She was a 2013-2014 Lillian Robinson Scholar at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University.

Jessica Lynn Wiebe

Jessica Lynn Wiebe is originally from Brandon, Manitoba and currently lives in Nova Scotia. She graduated with her BFA from NSCAD University in 2015, and with her B.Ed from Acadia University in 2016. Jessica’s work responds to the world that she has experienced as an artist, soldier and human being. She employs storytelling and performance in a multi-disciplinary practice chronicling her experience of war, trauma, and the quotidian reality. Thematically, Jessica’s work critically examines and deconstructs powerful experiences through her connections to specific objects and place. Her art questions how these reflections shape identity and connect her to the local and the global.


Session 3: Resilience and Rebirth
September 22, 5:30PM – 8:30PM | CENTRAL LIBRARY (Paul o’regan Hall)

Take an intimate look into the lives of young Iranian women who are rebuilding their lives with the support of the OMID program. Prismatic is proud to present ‘Glass House’, a feature-length film directed by Hamid Rahmanian and produced by Melissa Hibbard, that raises awareness of the challenges facing some young women in Iran and the work that OMID continues to provides in Tehran and beyond.

The film screening will be followed by a discussion, featuring Omid Foundation representatives, on the role that arts play in bridging cultural and linguistic gaps to raise awareness of global and local issues. OMID strengthens the social, emotional, and economic competencies of disadvantaged young women (aged from 15 to 25) in Iran, providing them with a sense of self-worth and with the opportunities to experience a full range of life options through self-empowerment, education and training.

Participating Panelists and Artists:

Glass House

The Glass House is a 2009 Iranian documentary film by Hamid Rahmanian (director and editor) and Melissa Hibbard (producer and script writer). The documentary gives insight into the life of four young girls who are trying to lift themselves out of the margins of society by attending a support center run by the Omid Foundation in uptown Tehran. Through this film, viewers will meet Samira, aged 14, who is taken in by the program after being found unconscious on the street by the local police. Her mother is in the business of drugs: crystal meth, pills, hashish, and opium. The film also features Mitra, aged 16, a young writer who lives with her emotionally abusive father and brother; Nazila, aged 19, a musician facing legal restrictions on her ability to perform and record music; and 20 year-old Sussan, who is on the edge after years of sexual abuse by her brothers. This revolutionary documentary shows a side of Iran that is lesser known. It brings viewers face-to-face with young women trying to overcome social and political barriers and the organization that supports and guides them on their journeys.

Mayhar Mohamadzadeh

Mahyar Mohamadzadeh was the Head of Therapy and Counselling at the Omid Foundation in Tehran before he moved to Toronto last year.


Session 4: A Reconciliation 109 years in the Making
September 23, 9:15AM – 11:45AM | CENTRAL LIBRARY (Paul o’regan hall)

In 1907, due to the neglect and poor planning of engineers, tragedy struck on a bridge under construction in Quebec City. The bridge collapsed, killing 75 men, including 33 Mohawk men from Kahnawake.

This event has had long-term, but separate effects on both the Indigenous community and the engineering profession.

Engineers wear an iron ring as a reminder that they hold peoples’ lives in their hands. The impact on Kahnawake was wide ranging and has resonated for generations. Prismatic 2016 will be presenting a dance performance, The Quebec Bridge, by Barbara Diabo.

Barbara Diabo is a Mohawk choreographer and dancer that specializes in combining contemporary dance with traditional dances and Indigenous themes.

Following the performance, Ms. Diabo and others will be participating in a panel discussion explore how a single historic event can have long-term impacts on different communities. Prismatic is partnering with the engineering community to present this showcase and conversation and to explore how this tragedy has affected different people and nations.

Participating Panelists and Artists:

Barbara Diabo

Professional dancer and choreographer Barbara Diabo, originally comes from the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawake and now resides in Montreal. She has been performing for over 25 years and presently specializes in both traditional and contemporary Aboriginal dance, especially in hoop dance. Barbara is a direct descendant of the Quebec Bridge Disaster and has choreographed this dance piece that brings the past to the present. It will haunt you, charm you, and bring new understandings of Indigenous people.

Dr. Margaret Walsh, PhD., PEng.

Dr. Walsh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil & Resource Engineering at Dalhousie University. She has over 20 years of experience in the water and wastewater industry with particular expertise in water treatment plant waste residuals, technology assessment and process optimization for water and wastewater treatment systems. Dr. Walsh has been actively involved with the American Water Works Association (AWWA), and is past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Atlantic Canada Water and Wastewater Association (ACWWA). She has served as Councilor with Engineers Nova Scotia and is actively involved with the Engineers-In-Training (EIT) mentorship program. Dr. Walsh is currently serving as Secretary/Treasurer for Camp 7, The Ritual of Calling of an Engineer.


Session 5: Speaking Up and Speaking Out
September 24, 9:30aM – 11:00aM | CENTRAL LIBRARY (rbc learning centre)

How do we reach “mainstream” audiences / communities with the stories, voices, opinions and concerns of minority communities? What are the experiences of artists, journalists and academics who are working to establish dialogue and to bridge the gap of understanding between communities? How can their work be supported? What role do mainstream organizations play in establishing this dialogue?

Join moderator, El Jones, a Halifax-based poet, educator and journalist, in a discussion that explores the challenges of bridging the gap through one’s professional work.

Participating Panelists and Artists:

El Jones

El Jones is a spoken-word artist and teacher from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her poems are themed around social-political issues surrounding race and gender. El has graced local and national stages and events as Halifax’s fifth poet laureate; two-time National Spoken Word Champion, an activist, and a college and university instructor. She feels a constant and urgent need to continue action on behalf of marginalized people against oppression, racism, gender and sexual discrimination and colonization. She leads by example, as she believes that big actions will not gain respect but rather hard work and the smaller tasks will make a difference. Finding her political heart in the African Nova Scotian community, El Jones continuously makes her voice and purpose heard. She believes that poetry can empower the powerless and give voice to the voiceless. El’s spoken word performances speak truth to power and Prismatic is honoured to bring El Jones and her work to the stage.

Shahin Sayadi

Shahin Sayadi is the founder and artistic director of Halifax-based Onelight Theatre and the Prismatic Arts Festival. He studied technical scenography at Dalhousie University and has worked for more than 15 years in performing arts. His original theatre productions have toured nationally and internationally. Prismatic is Canada’s leading inter-disciplinary arts festival that showcases the work of Indigenous and culturally diverse artists.

Dr. Jacqueline Warwick, PhD.

Jacqueline Warwick is an associate professor of musicology and, since 2015, Director of the Fountain School of Performing Arts at Dalhousie University. As a researcher she is best known for her 2007 book Girl Groups, Girl Culture: Popular Music and Identity in the 1960s and as numerous articles examining the intersections of race, gender, and music genre in the careers of artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, and the Beatles. This year she co-edited the volume Voicing Girlhood in Popular Music: Authenticity, Agency, Authority and she is writing a book on child musicians to be called Musical Prodigies and the Performance of Childhood.


Session 6: Arts at the Grassroots
September 24, 12:00pm – 2:oopm | CENTRAL LIBRARY (RBC LEARNING CENTRE)

Arts education as a tool of empowerment. Artistic expression to heal and grow. Music and poetry to bring people together and find strength through community. Prismatic welcomes Tamar Dina, the founder of Music Liberatory, a Halifax-based grassroots organization that aims to dramatically increase the number of female instrumentalists by providing meaningful, fun, and free music programming for women and girls

This non-profit organization believes that everyone is born with musical ability and that females in particular are systemically denied opportunity to develop musical skills and are taught to underestimate their artistic capacity. Music Liberatory works to create vibrant and honest female led music cultures. With focus on the current and potential leadership of women of colour, Music Liberatory wishes to see all women benefit from sharing music and the freedom this experience brings.

Participating Panelists and Artists:

Tamar Dina

Music Liberatory is a Halifax-based non-profit, grassroots organization, founded by Tamar Dina, that works to dramatically increase the number of female instrumentalists by providing free music programs to women and girls with emphasis on developing and maintaining the cultural leadership of women of colour.

Girls Got Song is a weekly singing group, founded by Music Liberatory, that promotes sisterhood and musical expression between girls aged 9-13. Girls have the opportunity to cover music written by female songwriters/musicians, as well as create and record original music created by the group.


More Information About The TALK 2016

Everyone is invited to participate in The TALK 2016. The TALK is free and open to the public, all are welcome, Prismatic is committed to ensuring that our events are accessible to all attendees. Please email or call 902-425-6812 to discuss ways that we can ensure that you are able to fully participate in the TALK and other Prismatic events.

Atlantica Hotel Halifax – Accommodation

Coming to Prismatic from away? Atlantica Hotel Halifax will be offering conference participants special accommodation rates starting from $129 per night for accommodations on the newly refreshed Atlantica Gold floors, to $159 per night on the Atlantica Platinum guest floors. Platinum rooms include full hot breakfast, daily appetizer in Seasons Lounge and numerous other premium amenities.

To make you reservations, please call 1-888-810-7288 or email