2023 Open Forum Lecture Series: February 10 – April 4

Feb 6, 2023

The 2023 Open Forum Lecture Series, led by Dr. Menna Agha and Dr. Omeasoo Wahpasiw, will include three talks, an exhibition, and the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism’s first annual Indigenous Feast. This event aims to transform architectural education in university settings in Canada.


The first edition of the Feast is a two-day workshop grounded in Indigenous knowledge through practices of storytelling, sharing, making, and becoming. Indigenous knowledge keepers will host talks, fabrication and art workshops, food making, and sharing.


The 2023 Open Forum theme is Refuge, referring to the layers of safety and welcome created in the past centuries on Turtle Island. Waves of both refugees and settlers have found a haven here and created new spatial relationships with Indigenous peoples. Refuge made in love and beauty, and sometimes, taking the refuge of home from Indigenous peoples.


Everyone is welcome to attend the events at Carleton University’s Architecture Building.

Lecture: Remaking the World:

Lessons on Anti-Colonial Place-Making from the Afro-Indigenous Caribbean

Date: Friday, February 10, 1:00 p.m. 

Location: The Pit, Architecture Building, Carleton University

Speaker: Melanie J. Newton is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto, where she teaches Caribbean and Atlantic World History. From 1996-1998 she served as a youth representative on the Barbados Constitution Review Commission, which recommended that Barbados move from a constitutional monarchy to a republic. Her publications include The Children of Africa in the Colonies: Free People of Color in Barbados in the Age of Emancipation (Baton Louisiana State University Press, 2008); Returns to a Native Land? Indigeneity and Decolonization in the Anglophone Caribbean, and Counterpoints of Conquest: The Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Lesser Antilles and the Ethnocartography of Genocide.

Lecture: Catching the Tail

Date: Tuesday, March 14, 4:30 p.m. 

Location: The Pit, Architecture Building, Carleton University

Speaker: Jess Myers

Topic: This lecture will focus on Jess Myers’ work in sound — the podcast Here There Be Dragons and the exhibition A Pause is Not a Break —while also looking at the relationship between experimental sound and the built environment. 


Speaker: Jess Myers is an assistant professor of architecture at Rhode Island School for Design. Her practice as an urbanist includes work as an editor, writer, podcaster, and curator. Her podcast Here There Be Dragons takes an in-depth look at the impact of security narratives on urban planning through the eyes of city residents. Her writing can be found in Avery Review, L’Architecture D’Aujourd’hui, Dwell, and The Architect’s Newspaper.

Exhibition: A Pause is not a Break

Date: Tuesday, March 14 to Thursday, April 6

Location: Lightroom Gallery, Architecture Building, Carleton University


In this exhibition, Jess Myers explores the relationship between sound, music, design, and architecture. “In architecture, we, the practitioners of the built environment, have turned over our mode of communication so entirely to visual mediums, that we have been accused on many occasions of being poor listeners, poor readers, and perhaps, at the base of it, poor perceivers,” she says. “What does the axonometric, the plan, the section, the elevation, the detail, the model miss? What have we failed to render in our visual pursuits?”

Lecture: Architectures of Displacement

Date: Friday, March 17, 4:30 p.m.

Location: The Pit, Architecture Building, Carleton University

Speaker: Nishat Awan

Topic:  Nishat Awan will discuss the relationship between architecture and displacement, an issue that has been at the centre of her research and practice for over a decade. Thinking with the journeys of undocumented migration, she will discuss how the refuge is made and found in the most unexpected of places and how architecture can consider refuge beyond the simplistic notion of shelter as an emergency response towards considering spaces of respite that emerge with or without architects.


Speaker: Nishat Awan is a lecturer at Urban Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Situated between art and architectural practice, Awan’s research and writing explore the relationship between geopolitics and space through a focus on migration and displacement. She is interested in forms of spatial representation, particularly in relation to the digital and the limits of witnessing as a form of ethical engagement with distant places. Currently, she leads the project Topological Atlas, which aims to produce visual counter-geographies of the fragile movements of migrants as they encounter the security apparatus of the border.

Indigenous Feast


Date: Monday, April 3 and Tuesday, April 4

Location: The Pit, Architecture Building, Carleton University


The Feast is the first edition of an annual event that aims to transform architectural education in university settings in Canada. This first edition of The Feast is a 2 day workshop, grounded in Indigenous knowledge through practices of storytelling, sharing, making, and becoming. From March 20th to March 21st, 2023, five Indigenous knowledge keepers will host talks, fabrication and art workshops, food making and sharing!


Elder: Louise Bernice Halfe (Sky Dancer) was born in Two Hills, AB, raised on Saddle Lake Reserve and attended Blue Quills Residential School. She is an award-winning writer and poet; she was Saskatchewan’s second Poet Laureate before becoming Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate in 2021.

Topic: Halfe will discuss Indigenous experiences within the ongoing history of colonialism and the resilience of Indigenous storytellers. Building upon her work as a poet, she will hold a workshop to reflect on her relationship with nêhiyawêwin, the Cree language, and the ways in which it informs her relationships and poetics.


Elder: Annie Smith St-Georges is a well-known Algonquin Traditional Elder born and raised on the Kitigan-Zibi reservation near Maniwaki, QC. Her teachings, which she has shared throughout Canada, are based on respecting Mother Earth and all its creatures, spirituality, and promoting harmony among each other.

Topic: Annie Smith St-Georges’s outstanding knowledge and experience will be shared with participants by means of storytelling. Participants in the workshop will, through active listening and non-western pedagogy, hear her experience raised as a trapper with her farmer mom and Algonquin father. She will discuss her implication of founding WAGE, a health centre for the integration of Aboriginal knowledge with medical science. She will also share her history as a founder of Kumik, the Elders Lodge (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) established in the early 1990s following the Oka crisis. She will stress the importance for Elders to share their teachings and knowledge. 


Elder: Maria Campbell is a Métis writer, playwright, and teacher. Her book, Halfbreed, is regarded as a foundational work of Indigenous literature in Canada.  She is currently the Elder in Residence at the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research, Athabasca University. She is known as a caring, humorous, and warm presence.

Topic: Maria Campbell will greatly help in shaping the vision for the Feast through her experience as an educator, storyteller, and community organizer. She has worked with Aboriginal youths in community theatre; set up food and housing co-ops; facilitated women’s circles; advocated for the hiring and recognition of Native people in the arts and mentored many Indigenous artists working in all forms of the arts. She will also discuss her experiences and practices as an author, playwright, filmmaker, and English professor. Finally, Campbell will host a workshop reflecting on the role of storytelling and arts in pedagogy.