Mariel Belanger

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« Wai̓, x̓ast sx̌lx̌ʕalt. Inca isk̓ʷist Cen cen, kn mut il nk ̓maplqs il n ̓sis ̓oolax̌ʷ. Hello good day, my name is Mariel Belanger, I am from the Head of the Lake– Dry Creek, the northern part of the Syilx – Okanagan Nation.”

Check out this amazing video where beaver visits me at the surface while I was practicing standing in the Salishan Sturgeon Nose Canoe this weekend on the Columbia river at the confluence of the Spokane
Sqilxw Woman meets Beaver
Academic CV
Latest blog entry: From the inside out: The Earth Reclaimed Her

Current Bio:

Short Bio

Mariel Belanger: is a Syilx interdisciplinary performance artist and doctoral student in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario. Following in her Syilx grandmothers analog footprint, using ethnographic historical recordings to map the archives for family specific Syilx song and story, she encounters, captures and creates her own understanding of these texts, sound bites and visual recordings of the important knowledge her grandmother left behind re-constructing her story-world as methodology of contemporary cultural engagement, transferring community-driven, land-based artistic knowledge and practice into a trans-media research creation project that carries a story of caring for the land and maintaining matrilineal relationships.

Long Bio

Mariel is dedicated to contributing to the growth of interdisciplinary arts as a method to engage Indigenous community, language, culture, and act as a bridge to society telling stories of our time.  In 2022 Mariel won a CGS SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship, the Teyonkwayenawá:kon – Queens University Graduate Scholarship, MFA SSHRC at UBCO, UBCO Aboriginal Fellowship, and Indian Brotherhood scholarship recipient who in 2018 was awarded Outstanding Indigenous Graduate Student at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry held in Champaigne-Urbana at the University of Illinois. As well Belanger was nominated to the Canadian Association of Thea

Mariel Belanger is a member of the Okanagan Indian Band and has dedicated the last ten years to researching colonial land-grabs in the Okanagan. Mariel locates her family connections to settlerhood and the first white ranchers of the Okanagan through the linage of her grandmother, Mary Abel. Using ethnographic historical documents and recordings to map the archives for family-specific song, story, and lived experiences of the Syilx people at the Head of the Lake, Mariel’s research centres identity through the lens of Indigenous ways of knowing and being in the world, customary law, Indigenous feminism, smi7may7 Syilx performance theory, intersectionality, the effects of being ‘half,’ and exploring how cultural identity is rebuilt through oral history and performance practice.

Based on her historical findings at O’Keefe Ranch, Mariel’s MFA thesis, “The Earth Re:Claimed Her. A continuing study of Blood Memory, Embodied Story Practice and Personal Governance,” won her a SSHRC scholarship and was the foundation for bringing new histories to light. Mariel has travelled to Chile from Temuco to Socorama demonstrating a sqilxw-centric land-based visitor protocol, and performing how colonial violence still affects the bodies of Indigenous women through her performance Illegal: Let Us Live, co-authored by the late Dr. Greg Younging. In 2022 Mariel won a CGS SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship and the Teyonkwayenawá:kon – Queens University Graduate Scholarship. Mariel’s writing can be found in the chapter “Sqilxw Woman: She Brings Bundles,” in the forthcoming book Unsettling Education: Decolonizing and Indigenizing the Land, “Respons(A)bility: Weaving Words of Responsibility Through Story,” in the online journal Revue Percees, “stəqpistns iʔ pqlqin / kihew omīkwan Eagle Feather,” in New Directions for Theorizing in Qualitative Inquiry, “Experiencing Resonance as a Practice of Ritual Engagement,” a co-authored chapter in Research and Reconciliation, and alt.Theatre Cultural Diversity and the Stage Magazine, Vol 14.1—14.3 as guest curator and writer. Belanger’s writing can also be found in the chapter “stəqpistns iʔ pqlqin / kihew omīkwan Eagle Feather” New Directions for Theorizing in Qualitative Inquiry Norman Denzin, James Salvo. Myers Educational Press, “Experiencing Resonance as a Practice of Ritual Engagement” co-authored chapter in RESEARCH AND RECONCILIATION Andrea Breen, Lindsay Dupre, Shawn Wilson, and alt.Theatre cultural diversity and the stage magazine Vol 14.1 through 14.3 as guest curator and writer.

Belanger is a founding member of Sqilxw Apna and Kama? Creative Aboriginal Arts Collective in her home community devising land based cultural arts as community education and engagement after spending time outside community. As an arts instructor at the Enowkin Centre Belanger facilitated Community Engagement for Artists and Indigenous Performance Arts for the NAPAT program and Summer Indigenous Arts Intensive at UBC Okanagan. Mariel has travelled to Chile from Temuco to Socorama demonstrating a sqilxw-centric land-based visitor protocol and performing how colonial violence still affects the bodies of Indigenous women through her performance Illegal: Let Us Live co-authored by the late Dr. Greg Younging and contributing to local Indigenous land-based causes such as replanting indigenous plants in reclaimed lands to assisting in choreographing an interpretive dance in a Mapuche language school.

As an early film maker Belanger directed two films which won at the Cowichan International Film Festival for “Best Documentary” (2008 Mothers Milk), “Most Promising Film Maker” and “Best Actor” (2007 Wayward Soul) As a member of the Ullus Collective, Belanger has created media instillations for Women in the Okanagan (2012) featuring Xixutem a story of revival, GeoTag Art featuring “A song for Tigerlily” and Picto Prophecy “Reminders for the People.” Recently stepping out on her own Belanger was lead creator in Storyhive Telus project sn̓kłca̓ʔsqáx̌aʔ tkłmílxʷ- Horse Woman.

That place where New Media and Ancient Knowledge meet has opened many new opportunities to bring those stories to life. Being a ‘hand’s on learner’ comes from the artistry Belanger’s granny displayed when tanning hides and sewing buckskin gloves. Inspired by the digital messages from 1978 recordings her passion lies in bringing those teachings of sustainability forward with new life. As mentor Dr. Margo Tamez says “Your tule lodge tipi is an excellent example of how the applied land-water research, the journaling, the drawing, the collecting, the gathering, the drying, the pedagogy with white and Indigenous communities all reflect a webbing of strategies. They decolonize the humanities, and transform humanities by expanding the imagination of what humanities means through an Indigenous holistic lens, not an anthropocentric lens. This is what many humanities scholars (debates on the anthropocene) say is desirable and crucial to shift from the human centric perspective to a earth and cosmos centred interconnected pluriverse.”


Her Body Will Remember a group show curated by Erin Sutherland at the Kelowna Art Gallery On now until Sept 8. 2019
Collaborating with David Bernie Graphic artist in Illegal: Let Us Live
Testify Collective

MIT Collective Wisdom Symposium: Lightning Talk, Testify

RedWorks Photography of Illegal:Let Us Live Performance and Exhibitions

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Essays and Blog

Global BC: Syilx BFA Undergrad Interview


Testify Victoria News video

Spe pu c’n “Their Voices Echo Across The Land”

525: Not The Indian Princess You Expected

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