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OCAD University appoints five new Indigenous faculty members


June 21, 2018
by Canadian Architect

OCAD University (OCAD U) is pleased to announce the hiring of five new tenured/tenure-track faculty members who self-identify as Indigenous Peoples of North America or Peoples of Turtle Island. Suzanne Morrissette will join OCAD U’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies; Peter Morin will join the Faculty of Art; and James Miller, Howard Munroe and Melanie Printup Hope will join the Faculty of Design.

OCAD, Indigenous faculty

Toronto’s OCAD U has announced the hiring of five Indigenous faculty members. Photo by Raysonho via Wikimedia Commons.

The hiring of these Indigenous faculty members is part of OCAD U’s commitment to decolonize, the first principle identified in the university’s Academic Plan 2017-2022: Transforming Student Experience. In addition to their teaching roles, research activities and service to the governance of the university, they will be key contributors to the ongoing development and decolonization of OCAD U’s undergraduate and graduate program curriculum, policies and initiatives. The hiring initiative is a special program under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

OCAD University believes that Indigenous knowledges and cultures are of fundamental importance to the future of Canada, both to Indigenous individuals and communities, and to Canadian society. In the last decade, OCAD U created an Indigenous Visual Culture Program, one of the first of its kind to be established at an art and design university, and established an Aboriginal Education Council. Including national representation, the Council’s mandate is to recommend initiatives and share strategies that provide direction and guidance on the development of the program and supporting initiatives.

“OCAD University understands that transforming education in response to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada requires that we critically assess the settler social relations that underpin knowledge production and what constitutes knowledge within the university context and beyond,” said Dr. Gillian Siddall, Vice-President, Academic and Provost. “We are delighted to welcome these new members to the OCAD U community, who will help us create a more inclusive learning environment for Indigenous students. These are amazing scholars, artists, and designers, and they will make a tremendous contribution to the university.”

“OCAD University has been an agent of change for more than 140 years. Our commitment to decolonizing the curriculum is part of the evolution of education — both at our university and within the larger Canadian post-secondary education context,” said Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD University’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “OCAD U was one of the first art and design institutions to launch a degree in Indigenous Visual Culture, which laid critical foundations from which to build. We very much look forward to working with these new faculty, and continue working in tandem with our Aboriginal Education Council, our Indigenous Student Association and all our faculty and staff to support the process to decolonize the institution and to recognize, acknowledge, implement and vitalize Indigenous visual culture.”

Joining OCAD U’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies:

Suzanne Morrissette

Suzanne Morrissette is a Métis artist, curator, and writer from Winnipeg. She received a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art & Design in 2009 and an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice from OCAD University in 2011. In 2017, Morrissette completed her PhD in Social and Political Thought at York University, which took an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the historical lineage behind contemporary perceptions of Indigenous political knowledge in mainstream North American society, particularly those which characterize resistance to state powers as aggressive or anti-progress. Looking at artworks by contemporary Indigenous artists, this research examines ways in which creative practice provides a generative site through which to confront and challenge these perceptions. This research has received SSHRC CGS and Provost Dissertation Scholarship support from 2013 to 2017 and has been nominated for the dissertation prize and Governor General’s Gold Medal for 2018.

Morrissette’s research-creation projects include such recent exhibitions as our land, together at Harbourfront Centre (2015), Surface & Symbol: works by Jean Marshall at the Ontario Crafts Council (2013) and Definitely Superior Art Gallery (2014), and Blueprints for a Long Walk: works by Lisa Myers at Urban Shaman Gallery (2013). Her forthcoming curated project On Being Illiberal extends her recent research to problematize public perception of resistance movements in North America.

Joining OCAD U’s Faculty of Art:

Peter Morin

Peter Morin is a Tahltan Nation artist, curator, and writer. In his artistic practice and curatorial work, Morin’s practice-based research investigates the impact zones that occur when indigenous cultural-based practices and western settler colonialism collide. This work is shaped by Tahltan Nation epistemological production and often takes on the form of performance interventions. In addition to his object making and performance-based practice, Morin has curated exhibitions at the Museum of Anthropology, Western Front, Bill Reid Gallery, and Burnaby Art Gallery. In 2014, Peter was long-listed for the Sobey Art Prize. Morin holds a tenured appointment at Brandon University in the Visual and Aboriginal Arts Department.

Joining OCAD U’s Faculty of Design:

James Miller

James Miller is a Sylff Association Fellow whose research focuses on the role of Indigenous knowledge in the production of a culturally supportive built-environment. Miller completes his PhD in Sustainable Architecture at the University of Oregon this June and holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame. Miller has a diverse background in architectural practice, urbanism, and social entrepreneurship. He is currently working with municipal governments and non-profits in the Republic of the Marshall Islands to assist in creating culturally appropriate land use planning and climate adaptive building strategies through applied research.

Miller’s research has been funded by the Sylff Association and the Julie and Rocky Dixon Graduate Student Innovation Award. Miller’s research has been published in the proceedings of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium 2017 Conference and received an ARCC King Medal in 2016. His paper “Colonial Legacy in the Marshall Islands: The Shaping of Everyday Cultural Patterns in America Town” will be presented at the 2018 International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments Conference. Previous research has been published in Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review Working Papers Series and the Proceedings of the International Association for the Study of People-Environment Studies. Miller’s work has also been presented at the International Disaster Risk Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Miller is a core member of the Collaborative for Inclusive Urbanism, a Program Director for Living Islands non-profit, and a Project Manager with Studio-E Architecture in Eugene, Oregon.

Howard Munroe

Howard Munroe is Red River Métis from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and is completing a contractually limited term appointment in OCAD U’s Industrial Design program. He holds a Master’s degree in Urban Aboriginal Education from York University, a Bachelor in Technological Education from Brock University, a Bachelor in Industrial Design from OCAD University (Distinction) and a 3-year advanced Diploma in Furniture Design from Sheridan College. His academic research focuses on introducing Indigenous ways of knowing into current Industrial Design research pedagogies to help establish protocols that inform systems, sustainability and manufacturing processes. Using an urban Indigenous lens, he explores how Indigenous knowledge can foster productive relationships between Indigenous peoples and the design community by introducing research methodologies that are bounded by Indigenous guidelines and protocols.

Howard has lectured to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada on Innovation, Indigenization and Appropriation and sits on the Indigenous advisory council to the Toronto District School board. His Industrial Design practice focuses on designing custom furniture, lighting and custom designed projects for the home and is a self-taught luthier. Prior to academia, Howard was well established in the performing arts as a lighting designer, technical director, project manager and set fabricator for many major theatrical, television, dance, display and film projects and continues to consult in these industries.

Melanie Printup Hope

Melanie Printup Hope is of Tuscarora and European descent and was raised on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in New York State. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. She is an Associate Professor Emerita at The Sage Colleges, Albany and Troy, New York and has also taught at Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity, in Banff, Alberta, Canada. She received a Rockefeller Foundation Intercultural Film/Video/Multimedia Fellowship in 1996 and has received additional awards and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Jerome Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Lyn Blumenthal Memorial Fund. Her biography has been included in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, Who’s Who of American Women and The World Who’s Who of Women.



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