In This Issue

Jump to Page

Cover1 | Cover2 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | Cover3 | Cover4

Audio version

Support the Ryerson Fund. Visit

Q&A Leanne Betasamosake Simpson on the long path to reconciliation

Fast Facts
Lives Nogojiwanong Awards The inaugural RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award in 2014

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a Nogojiwanong (Peterborough)-based writer, musician and academic. In March 2017, she was appointed as a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson.


What is the underlying message of the stories you tell?


The spine of my practice is a love of land, culture, family and the intelligence of my Nishnaabeg ancestors. I use Nishnaabeg language and storytelling to create multi-layered works that simultaneously speak to Nishnaabeg and non-Native audiences.


What is the biggest challenge for universities regarding reconciliation?


The biggest challenge is to make their communities and institutions supportive, safe and nurturing for Indigenous students. Part of the work of universities is to be responsible about the damage that replicating colonialism has caused, and to align themselves with those of us committed to regenerating Indigenous political systems, languages and intellectual systems.


How can Canadians support reconciliation, especially in this sesquicentennial year?


One simple thing Canadians can do is support Indigenous artists. We have incredible writers, musicians, visual artists, theatre, dance, filmmakers and photographers doing incredible work. Many events in Toronto present an alternative perspective on Canada 150 that centres the experience of Indigenous and Black peoples, for example.

Every Canadian should learn about colonialism and how it structures Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. Canadians need to support us in regenerating our political systems, languages and intellectual practices that have been so damaged by residential schools, dispossession and capitalism. Canadians need to stop thinking about colonialism as something that happened in the past, and think about how they are replicating colonialism, racism and heteropatriarchy. Canadians need to align with the folks doing the hard work of building alternatives.


How will you help Indigenize the curriculum at Ryerson?


I am interested in building a generation of Canadians who can think critically about colonialism and its contemporary impacts on Indigenous peoples, who are articulate about our history and have the skills to develop respectful relationships with Indigenous communities. I am interested in building a generation of Indigenous peoples who embody Indigenous intelligence and have the skills and knowledge to build a present and a future based on Indigenous ethics, values and practices. Robust intellectual practices have sustained our nations for generations. There is a tremendous opportunity for universities to support our land-based education programs and learn from us.—Sue Horner

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Summer 2017 / Ryerson University Magazine 13