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"Found in Translation" in large black text. To the left, the Bodies in Translation logo, which has overlapping circles in blue, green, red, and yellow.
The Bodies In Translation project is about partnerships, activism, art, technology, and access to life. Our newsletter, Found in Translation, published twice a year, provides a springboard for BIT collaborations and highlights some of the amazing work that we have underway. Subscribe here.
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We have been thinking about you—our amazing network of colleagues, friends and collaborators—during these challenging times. We see that many responses to the pandemic rising out of our communities offer insight and survival strategies. As the world is called to take pause, nurture connection in cripped ways, make art, take care of each other, rest, roll into action, and so on, we see that we, communities of disabled, Deaf, Mad, e/Elder, fat, queer and other outsiders bring so much knowledge and care to this challenging time.

We invite you to reflect with us on what aging and disability have to teach us in the time of self-isolation and Covid-19. Storytellers from the Aging Vitalities workshop explore this question below. 

In Issue 5 of Found in Translation you will find a selection of what's been keeping us connected to our creative and scholarly purposes and to each other. We at Bodies in Translation are sending much warmth, love and well wishes to you all.
A photo of Carmen Papalia leading an eyes-shut walking tour called “Blind Field Shuttle.” Carmen is walking with his white cane, with 5 people behind him, with their hands on each other's shoulders. They are crossing the street; skyscrapers are visible in the background.
Carmen Papalia leads an eyes-shut walking tour called “Blind Field Shuttle.” Photo credit: Heather Zinger for the New York Times. 
Welcome to the midway point of Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life. We have accomplished so much together already, and we’re excited for what’s to come.
We extend our thanks to you, our community of artists, activists, scholars, students, and researchers, for your collaboration, support and involvement. We’ve been thrilled by the proliferating networks/ partnerships/ activities that have emerged through our innovation of radical accessible art practices and through our focus on interrogating intersections between/among diverse communities and scholarly fields.
We’re pleased to report that our teamwork has generated an impressive set of creations:
- 49 articles in peer-reviewed journals and popular media, reports and briefs,
- 55 books and book chapters, dictionary and encyclopedia entries,
- 114 conference presentations and publications,
- 27 events including conferences, symposia, and workshops,
- 48 artistic products including performances, publications, accessible exhibitions, talks, and catalogues,
- 106 research and pedagogical products such as videos, tools, and master classes
The second half of the grant will culminate with the Bodies in Translation Interactive Knowledge Platform, a digital space that presents the rich materials and resources generated through our projects, a space we’ve been developing over the last 3.5 years. The Interactive Platform will be a hub for teaching and learning, curatorial and artistic exploration, and an archive that reflects the vitality of disability arts and culture in Ontario and beyond.

We are excited by the ever-expanding network of people collected to this project, particularly the interdependent connection between art and research, as well as the growth of activist arts in Ontario and across the country. We are grateful to you all for fostering many of these generative connections as we continue to cultivate disabled, d/Deaf, fat, Mad, and aging arts using a decolonizing lens together.  

Twice a year, the Found in Translation Newsletter brings to life these growing connections and highlights some of the projects generated through our collaborations. We hope you enjoy Issue 5.

- Carla Rice and Eliza Chandler, Bodies in Translation Co-directors.
A photo of Nadine Changfoot.
Nadine has long dark hair with platinum and is smiling, wearing a black dress. On a late summer day, she is standing in front of the Otonabee River framed by trees with the Trent University Faryon Bridge in the background. Trent University is located on the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg governed by the Williams Treaty 1818.

Nadine Changfoot is Associate Professor of Political Studies, Trent University, a member of the Trent Centre for Aging Studies Executive Committee, and Senior Research Associate with Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice. 

Nadine recently spoke with Kayla Besse about her Aging Vitalities project. Watch an excerpt from the project with/on our Vimeo channel.

Kayla Besse: What drew you to BIT in the first place? 

Nadine Changfoot: What drew me to BIT was the vision and commitment to bring non-normative experiences loudly and proudly into the world through artistic and research creation that is both serious and playful. I’m very excited to be part of BIT’s creative and intellectual wave of artistic creation research and technological innovation and leading one of its projects, “Aging Vitalities.” I had the amazing opportunity to work with Carla Rice and Eliza Chandler and the fabulous team at Re•Vision to bring disability experiences into the world through the project “Mobilizing New Meanings of Disability and Difference” (CIHR funded). The impact of storytelling from lived experience into multimedia and accessible short documentary was incredibly powerful for storytellers, researcher-storytellers, and audiences. Stories that needed and wanted to be seen and/or heard, got to be told, and there were audiences ready and hungry for them. From this project, I learned that marginalized older persons have stories to tell and there are audiences who want to see/hear these stories, but there is a gap between the two and the two need to be connected. The idea for the BIT project “Aging Vitalities” germinated from this idea.

KB: Could you tell me about your Aging Vitalities project, for folks who wouldn’t know anything about it? 

Aging Vitalities starts from the premise that diverse older persons have vibrant energies and experiences, however, these are often not welcomed into conversations and public spaces. For the first Aging Vitalities workshop held in Spring 2019, older persons, which unsystematically turned out to be all women, were each invited to share a story of their lived experience of aging, and create their own short 2-4 minute multimedia documentary. With the support of Re•Vision’s artist facilitation team, twelve beautiful stories were created by women ages 55-89, identifying as settler, Indigenous, Holocaust survivor, living with disability, racialized, and queer. From these stories, new meanings of aging are emerging which can be mobilized to support new imaginings and possibilities of growing old. The stories were recently presented and warmly received at ReFrame Film Festival 2020 in Peterborough/Nogojiwanong.

KB: What are some of the key themes or insights that delighted you, or that you learned from working with these storytellers?

Key themes emerging from the stories that are a source of delight as well as serious reflection are the multiplicitous ways of aging, the time immemorial Indigenous traditions and ways of aging which are to be respected and honoured, and the wellspring of creativity experienced by storytellers. Within the twelve stories, there is expressed a multiplicity of meanings and experiences of becoming older, something not surprising in light of the diversity within the group. We are socialized and shaped to think of a human life in singular terms, as linear, proceeding forward in time in an able-bodied and minded way, and also in an acquiring way. We acquire this, we acquire that. We get better at this and or that. Then, once a certain time of life has been reached, age-wise, which often becomes linked to a loss or decline in physical, cognitive, financial capacity, boom, and with frequently accompanied ageist and ableist pitiable responses, aging becomes represented or imagined as a downward downhill trajectory which can be understandably quite disheartening, fearful, and anxiety-inducing when they are presented in this way. To buttress against fear and anxiety around this view of aging, there is a huge anti-aging industry to provide so-called “fixes” to fight against aging. In contrast, the stories of Aging Vitalities tell viewers that a person need not fight aging. Instead, of fear and anxiety and “fixes,” aging offers experiences to be welcomed, savoured, and shared! The stories offer welcome alternatives for embracing and proudly aging. They bring into the world experiences of aging that are desirable and rich in reflection of vivid, vivacious lives, relationships, and community.
Aging Vitalities is honoured to have stories told by Anishnaabe Kwey who brought into the world Anishnaabe experiences and traditions whereby becoming older is welcomed and intimately connected with all relations, both human and non-human, and in relationship with the land. Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg interdependencies among humans, animals, plants, ancestors and more come alive in these stories. Resistance against colonial dispossession, disappearance, and cultural genocide and the vitalities of Anishnaabe ways of knowing, healing, and living in good ways are beautifully presented with great care. There is much to learn much from these stories for their many gifts.
The stories, Anishnaabe and settler, do not shy away from pain and loss experienced during a lifetime. What they do is share the profound depth of life changes and their visceral, affective, multiple layers, as well as the transformative becoming they usher into the fullness and wholeness of aging, a fullness and wholeness experienced importantly in relationship, in community. Thus, these relationships and communities need very much to be well supported. This support includes robust funding for institutions of healthcare, long-term care, and community care accessed by older persons, including and especially in Indigenous communities. Just as important as the support, is the needed leadership from diverse older persons: Indigenous, those living with disability, on lower incomes, racialized, and queer. Their leadership is crucial for the very design, interactions, technologies, and programming that these institutions will deliver.
Storytellers also shared that they thoroughly enjoyed the discovery of their own creativity during the workshop process and continue to seek and bring more creativity in/to their lives. They also really enjoyed having access to the cutting-edge Re•Vision computer and software technology used to make their documentaries. The workshop was a pivot point for storytellers in that it provided a place to stop and reflect upon their lives. The community created by the storytellers remains a lasting important memory, and a wellspring from which their growing creativity continues and flows. That we can come together to mobilize the stories at venues such as ReFrame Film Festival or the Canadian Indigenous and Native Studies Association (CINSA) resurges and extends the energy of the community created by the workshop into diverse audiences.

Header image. An old sepia-toned photograph of 8 members of Alice’s family gathered together outside.
A Gift from the Land was created by Alice Olsen Williams, Anishnaabe-Kwe, as part of the Aging Vitalities storytelling workshop in April 2019. The still image above shows an old sepia-toned photograph of 8 members of Alice’s family gathered together outside. Alice Olsen Williams is renowned Quilt Artist (Pimaatisiwin Quilts) living in Curve Lake. Her quilted textile works blend expressions of Anishnaabe beliefs and ideology with reflections on contemporary social issues. She speaks to Indigenous cultural resurgence, and social justice issues such as racism and violence towards women.

Aging Vitalities Storytellers were invited to reflect upon the question: “What do aging and disability have to teach us in the time of isolation and COVID-19?” Alice Olsen Williams, Joanne Pritchard, Ann Barrett and Mary Gordon shared the following thoughts and stories. 

Alice Olsen Williams: Is inadequately addressing Indigenous people’s vulnerability to a disease like COVID-19, yet another settler way of getting rid of us?

I am Indigenous, an Anishinaabe-Kwe from Namegosibiing (Trout Lake in Treaty 3 territory), but now living in Oshkiigmaang (Curve Lake First Nation) in the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabe territory.

Self-isolating in this time of working to stop the spread of COVID-19, has given me lots of time to think about what is going on. I wonder, “How is this COVID-19 serving the ruling class?” Throughout settler history, Indigenous peoples have been deemed expendable by our governments to infectious diseases introduced by Europeans, and more recently from the H1N1 flu epidemic in 2009. Even while there is recognition from the Minister of Indigenous Services Canada of the increased vulnerability of Indigenous communities to COVID-19, I wonder how much will really change for Indigenous peoples. The recovery of the economy from this pandemic will also involve the continued view that Indigenous peoples’ lives can be shortened and expendable to do the “dirty work” or work “no settler will do” of extractive industries. Meanwhile, broken treaties result in inadequate housing, education, healthcare, income supports, unsafe drinking water and repeat settler history that Indigenous peoples are treated less than human. Is inadequately addressing Indigenous people’s vulnerability to a disease like COVID-19, yet another settler way of getting rid of us?

Ann Barrett: A lot of improvements to the system of long term care are needed, including proper staffing levels, improved salaries so workers can earn a living wage without having to go to several work places to make ends meet, benefits including paid sick days, and improved regulation of the industry.

Before Covid-19 turned up in our lives I was a woman who had gone through the stages of being a partner then a caregiver then a supporter to my husband of 55 years. Now I can add the label of distant observer to that list.
This pandemic turned up 7 months after my husband moved into a long term care home. He has what is sometimes described as Parkinson’s dementia which affects both his physical and cognitive abilities.  He had reached a point where I was no longer able to support him at home even with lots of help from health care people. He settled into his new home and was well looked after by good staff. I would visit 3 – 4 times a week to tell him about family and friends, push him around the home and gardens, attend social activities, sit with him, hold his hand and hug him.  I was the link to who he was and the person who knew him best.
Read the storytellers' responses in full here. 


Drawing by Estée Klar. The “non-compliant giggle” in the classroom. Pen on Paper. 2017. Black scribbly lines in layers and grouping across white page.
Photo from "Cymbalism." A wheelchair in a gallery space sits in front of 4 suspended cymbals.
Still from rehearsing Deathnastics performed at Bunker 2 Contemporary Art Container. Two people performing outside in front of a white shipping container with a small group of people sitting around them. The performers are putting chapstick on each other’s lips simultaneously.
Photo from Cripping the Arts. A person's torso is visible in profile, holding a vibratactile hand with sensors on the fingertips, and a mess of wires coming out of it.
Image descriptions of a grid of 4 colour photographs, clockwise from top left:
1) Drawing by Estée Klar. The “non-compliant giggle” in the classroom. Pen on Paper. 2017. Black scribbly lines in layers and grouping across white page.
2) Photo from "Cymbalism, 2016-2017." A wheelchair in a gallery space sits in front of 4 suspended cymbals, with audio transducers attached; 2 audio amplifiers, 1 computer with audio interface.
3) Photo from rehearsing Deathnastics performed at Bunker 2 Contemporary Art Container. Two people performing outside in front of a white shipping container with a small group of people sitting around them. The performers are putting chapstick on each other’s lips simultaneously.
4) Photo from Cripping the Arts. A person's torso is visible in profile, holding a vibratactile hand with sensors on the fingertips, and a mess of wires coming out of it.

We're seeking contributions. Every year, Bodies in Translation puts together Know Access, a year-end collage that compiles creative reflections and conversations had between our partners, artists, and collaborators on our different understandings of access and inclusion. For 2020, we are extending this invitation to all of you! 

We envision people using this collage as a tool for facilitating conversation, and learning and unlearning how we understand inclusive action. As well, we hope it will offer multiple and perhaps more disparate understandings of access. Our work towards inclusion requires speaking to, from, back, together and within. Find Know Access collages from previous years here.

For this year's collage we are asking, “how has your idea of access or inclusion changed in the last year? We welcome multimedia responses: one or two written sentences, longer writing, poetry, visual artwork, video, audio, or any other format you prefer. To contribute, email Kayla at by May 29, 2020.


We are thrilled to share that the “Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario” exhibition has received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award! This award, from Ontario Heritage Trust, celebrates individuals, groups and communities for their exceptional contributions to heritage conservation.

Into the Light was co-curated by Mona Stonefish, Peter Park, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Evadne Kelly, Seika Boye and Sky Stonefish. The exhibition of artistic, sensory, and material expressions of memory brought one of Guelph’s dark secrets, as well as stories of survival, out of the shadows and into the light. Co-presented by Re-Vision: Centre for Art and Social Justice, Bodies in Translation, and Respecting Rights, Arch Disability Law.

The exhibition was presented at the Guelph Civic Museum from September 14, 2019 – March 1, 2020 in partnership with Bodies in Translation, Guelph Museums, Respecting Rights, Arch Disability Law, and Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice.

Read “Universities must open their archives and share their oppressive pasts” by Evadne Kelly and Carla Rice in The Conversation Canada for further reflection on the research and exhibition experience. Or watch and listen to co-curator Peter Park reflect on the exhibition and his lived experience of eugenics, in the video below.

A photo of Evadne Kelly, Mona Stonefish, and other award recipients with the Lieutenant Governor, The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
A photo of Evadne Kelly, Mona Stonefish, and other award recipients with the Lieutenant Governor, The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
A photo of Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning, Sky Stonefish, Evadne Kelly, and Mona Stonefish on stage receiving the award from Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
A photo of Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning, Sky Stonefish, Evadne Kelly, and Mona Stonefish on stage receiving the award from Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
Header image says "Reflections on Into the Light with Peter Park"
This video features Peter Park, co-curator of Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario, reflecting on the exhibition and his lived experience of eugenics.
The title image says "Reflections on Into the Light with Peter Park."
Photo of Stephen Surlin presenting at ArtsEverywhere.
This is a photo of Stephen Surlin presenting at ArtsEverywhere.

Photos by Ryan Edwardson courtesy of ArtsEverywhere.
Photo of Taeyoon Choi presenting at ArtsEverywhere.
This is a photo of Taeyoon Choi presenting at ArtsEverywhere. The screen to the left of him says "How can we make our learning environments more accessible and inclusive for disabled people."

On January 26th, 2020, Bodies in Translation co-presented “Technology, Access, and Art” as part of the ArtsEverywhere Festival. This event offered a dynamic exchange between artists Taeyoon Choi and Stephen Surlin on disability, aging, accessibility and technology, where they discussed the ways in which these things shape their own art practices, their communities, and disability and aging arts more broadly.

On January 25, Bodies in Translation collaborated with The Art Museum at the University of Toronto, on the Night of Ideas: Being Alive. Night of Ideas brought together a dynamic roster of international artists, writers, philosophers, performers, and activists to explore what it means to be alive in the multiplicities of the body and the entanglements of identity. Bodies in Translation presented a short program of digital stories that explore disability, race and gender, including "Fluid" by Mari Ramsawakh, which you can watch below.

Night of Ideas: Being Alive followed the opening celebration of the Lorenza Böttner: Requiem for the Norm exhibition. Böttner was a disabled, trans artist whose work is irreverent and hedonistic, filled with the artist’s joy in her own body. The evening's speakers included queer and trans theorist Paul B. Preciado, French writer Emma Becker, French anthropobiologist Judith Nicogossian, Au nom de la Danse, Victoire Tuaillon, queer-crip theorists/activists Dr. Loree Erickson and Dr. Ben Barry, artists Wit López and Patrick Salvani, and more. The event was presented in partnership with the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Canada and Hart House.
A still image of Mari wearing a striped shirt, balancing their cane on one hand
"Fluid" by Mari Ramsawakh was one of the videos presented by Bodies in Translation at Night of Ideas. It reflects on identity and the labels people place on one another. Fluid was created as part of the storytelling workshop From Invisibility to Inclusion in May 2019. Mari Ramsawakh is a disabled and nonbinary writer, activist, and podcaster who covers topics such as disability justice, sexual health, race, and gender, and winner of TVO's eighth annual Short Doc Contest for their short film "Fluid." The title image above pictures a person balancing a cane horizontally on their right hand, their left hand may be ready to catch it. The cane is marked with colourful stickers. 


Members of the BIT Big Picture Committee standing and sitting together, posing for a group photo. There are 20 people all together, in 2 rows.
Members of the BIT Big Picture Committee standing and sitting together, posing for a group photo. There are 20 people all together, in 2 rows.

The Bodies in Translation Big Picture Committee met for 2 days in February 2020 in downtown Guelph, Ontario. A few highlights from our time together include a review of our highly successful Midterm Report, a sneak peek of the Oral Histories Documentary of disability artists and activists from Karen Yoshida’s project, a look at what’s happening with the BIT Knowledge Platform, and guided tours of VibraFusionLab: Bridging Practices in Accessibility, Art and Communications with David Bobier, and Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario with Mona Stonefish, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Sky Stonefish, Evadne Kelly, and Dawn Owen, both exhibitions at the Guelph Civic Museum. We wouldn’t be what we are without the hard work and community of all of our wonderful partners! A huge thanks to all who gathered.


Our friends at Creative Users Projects have put together an accessible COVID-19 resources page, which includes information in ASL, plain language, digital communications, and more. Check it out here. They are also currently sending out their Connector newsletter on a weekly basis, which you can subscribe to here, to keep up on the latest in arts funding opportunities, calls for participation, and upcoming events.

Our very own PI and co-director Carla Rice was recently on Hyacinth Podcast talking about The Art of AccessibilityWritten, produced, and hosted by Carmel Mikol, Hyacinth combines scholarly research with the work of artists and writers to get to the heart of big ideas. In episode 9, Carla speaks about the Re•Vision Centre, Bodies in Translation, and her journey as a 'vulnerable researcher' in arts-based research spaces. Circus artists Erin Ball and Vanessa Furlong are also interviewed in this episode. Listen and/or read a full transcript here, and subscribe to Hyacinth wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow @hyacinthpodcast on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Artistry ‘Under the Table’: Disabled Artists’ Livelihoods in Canada is conducting interviews about the various means that disabled and D/deaf people use to make a living, and how and why they make decisions to sustain themselves, their families and their communities. Paid opportunity. To participate, contact Chelsea Jones at Read the full details here, and see the call in ASL here.

Big congratulations to Re•Vision postdoctoral researcher Dr. Aly Bailey for receiving the The 2019 Seymour Fisher Outstanding Body Image Dissertation Award! Awarded by “Body Image: An International Journal of Research,” Aly is honoured for her PhD dissertation, titled “Designing, Testing, and Implementing Body Image Awareness Seminars: A Positive Body Image Program.”

BIT Videos for teaching and learning: Tune into the BIT Vimeo Channel Watch some of our creative outputs, documentary work, interviews, and select talks and lectures. We encourage you to program these videos into your own talks and lectures, and to use this content in your research. 

Fat art and activism and the "Pretty Porky and Pissed Off" archives: BIT has partnered with Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off (PPPO) co-founder, Dr. Allyson Mitchell, School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies and Dr. Alison Crosby, School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies, and Centre for Feminist Research at York University, on the exciting work of digitizing the art and activism of PPPO. PPPO was an avant-garde feminist performance art and activist collective based in Toronto from 1996-2005. Check out the BIT Instagram page for some sneak peaks, and stay tuned for more info!

Thanks to Nadine Changfoot for sharing her work on the Aging Vitalities project, and to Alice Olsen Williams, Joanne Pritchard, Ann Barrett, and Mary Gordon for their reflections on what lessons aging and disability have for us. Thanks to Mari Ramsawakh and Alice Olsen Williams for permitting us to share their digital stories, and Peter Park for his video reflections on "Into the Light." 

This newsletter was written and edited for Bodies in Translation by Kayla Besse and Tracy Tidgwell.
Found in Translation is a newsletter for, by, and about the Bodies in Translation partnership grant. Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life is a research project that creates collaborative partnerships between artists, arts organizations, activists, scholars, and educators. We cultivate activist art produced by disabled, d/Deaf, fat, Mad, and E/elder people with the goal of expanding understandings of vitality and advancing social justice. Bodies in Translation has its home at Re·Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice at the University of Guelph. It is co-led by Dr. Carla Rice at the University of Guelph and Dr. Eliza Chandler at Ryerson University.
We recognize that accessibility is a dynamic process. If you find any part of this newsletter to be inaccessible to you or if you have any suggestions for how we might make Found in Translation more accessible in content, language, tone, style, etc., we would love feedback. Please email Kayla Besse at
The content of this newsletter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Sharealike license. This means that others may build on or alter content when it is re-shared. The content must be only used for non-commercial purposes and the original work must be attributed to the BIT Found in Translation newsletter. Users must also license the new work under the same license. For more information about Creative Commons licensing, please visit: Content that is shared here but created by others (for example, found on external links) may be subject to different licensing.
This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
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