The conference got properly underway on Thursday, commencing with an afternoon reading by Cornelia Hoogland, who offered us her essay “Sea Level” which had been finalist in the CBC Nonfiction contest this year, and which opened things up with thought and discussion around wilderness, technology and human-animal boundaries.
We then had the opportunity to take a midday stroll down to Preservation Farm, an organic farming project at UBC Okanagan, where ALECC had thoughtfully purchased the harvest for our lunch: all we had to do was go and pick (or pull) it.
We returned with our bounty and enjoyed a lush and lovely salad before returning to the conference, with papers that touched on issues to do with the forced evacuation in Fukushima following the tsunami, and the forced relocation of some 90 Inuit people to the high Arctic in the 1950s.
There followed a superb reception, featuring extremely good food and entertainment in the form of sound art, which was visible (and audible) enough to be provocative while not dampening conversation. I slipped away to pick up some breakfast and lunch supplies (summer campus food outlets are not really set up for conference guests) and missed the gas leak that I gather forced people outside for a while.
Things were pretty much back on track by the time we returned to take in a generous and entertaining talk and slide show by Newfoundland artist Marlene Creates. (Dim lighting meant she accepted the offer of a headlamp from one of the audience for part of her talk…)