In photos: Faculty and alumni talk truth at TEDxMacEwanU

January 28, 2019 | Arts & Culture, Health, Science, Society
On January 23, the Betty Andrews Recital Hall was filled with people who were ready to hear the truth.

MacEwan University’s second TEDxMacEwanU event invited eight of the university’s faculty members and alumni to take the stage, sharing their truths about everything from witchcraft and fake news to sexual assault and substance use.

Here is a look at the evening, in photos.

Theatre arts prof – and the evening’s host – Leigh Rivenbark welcomes everyone and thanks all the evening's speakers for having the courage to share their truths.
After accepting protocol from Dr. Fred McGinn (dean, Faculty of Health and Community Studies), Roxanne Tootoosis (kihêw waciston Knowledge Keeper) opens the event with a greeting in Cree, her first language. She explains the ritual of offering and accepting protocol – how it creates a sacred space where Elders and Knowledge Keepers can openly and honestly share the inherited knowledge of their ancestors.
David Shepherd, MLA, Edmonton-Centre and alumnus of MacEwan’s music program, brings greetings on behalf of the Government of Alberta.
Being true to yourself is difficult enough, but add another person into the equation and it’s even harder. Performing pieces from their collaborative music research project, Chandelle Rimmer and Dr. Tom Van Seters explore musical truths through open improvisation and themes including flight and fear of facing the truth from a child’s perspective. In the process, the music profs discover how to be true to the new voice they are creating together.
In a world where people in power can say – or tweet – anything they want, how can we ever be sure what’s accurate or true? Neill Fitzpatrick (assistant professor, journalism) explains how taking a few pages from his discipline’s notebook – asking questions, checking facts and thinking before we share – can empower us to battle the confusion and distortion on our news feeds.
Petra Schulz (faculty member, health and community studies) never planned to be a harm reduction advocate, but her life changed forever on April 30, 2014 when she and her husband discovered their son Danny’s body on the bathroom floor of his apartment. When faced with what to say in his eulogy, they decided to tell the truth. In this heart-wrenching talk, Petra shares Danny’s story and the idea that people who use drugs are just like everyone else: people who deserve a chance to be safe and healthy, and to live without judgment or shame.
The first time Dr. Katie Biittner (associate professor, anthropology) was accused of witchcraft, she was shocked. The second time, she realized what the charge revealed about her – as a person and an archaeologist. In her talk, Katie digs into the time she spent in Africa studying the origins of humanity, and how she’s using what she learned – on and off the excavation site – to elevate the voices of the people who live in the communities she’s studying.
Students from the MacEwan Improv Club, also known as Take a Bow, provided some unscripted comedy after the first half of the evening.
When Keestin O’Dell’s grandfather told him that one day he would become a warrior and protector of his community, images of Vikings, Spartacus and Genghis Khan leapt to mind. But what does okicitawak (warrior, in Cree) really mean? In this humorous and informative talk, the MacEwan Bachelor of Arts alumnus explains how he discovered that becoming a warrior is a journey, a passion and a choice.
Can thinking like a skeptic (but not a cynic) really make you nicer to be around? Dr. Rodney Schmaltz (associate professor, psychology) believes it can. After all, skepticism is about having an open mind, knowing our biases and being aware of the shortcuts our brains take that can lead us astray. Here, Rodney explains how using a critical eye to look at all pseudo-scientific claims – from UFO sightings to full moon madness – can make us better listeners, friends and employees.
What should you do when someone tells you they’re a survivor of sexual assault? First, believe them. Then, let go of any assumptions you might have about what that person should do next. MacEwan alum Jason Garcia talks about the importance of letting survivors be the experts in their own healing journey, what their own supporters helped them realize, and how to find the power in the space that survivors and their supporters share.

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