2023 David Neufeld Memorial Lecture: Georgette McLeod

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David Neufeld was a historian who championed many things, including Northern history, environmental history, public history, and Indigenous history and heritage. He spent his career as a Parks Canada historian learning from the people and the land of the Yukon Territory, pushing for inclusion and two-eyed seeing, and mentoring young and early career researchers who shared his passions. The passing of David in late 2020 brought to light just how many people, both within and outside the academic world, David has influenced, supported, and mentored throughout his life.

Smiling man in a motor boat on a river between rock cliffs. A bridge is seen in the background.
David on the River. Photo by Jon Luedee.

To honour David’s legacy, the Neufeld Memorial Lecture will take place annually, in a virtual format, and will feature the work of early career researchers, public historians, and Indigenous historians and heritage workers. In keeping with his spirit, this event will remain free and open to the public, and housed for future viewing.

The Neufeld Memorial Lecture organizing committee is pleased to present the 2023 lecture delivered by Georgette McLeod, available in the recording below. In her lecture, Georgette discusses the crucial work of Hän language and culture revitalization for Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in including a recently published children’s (audio)book titled Shëtsey – My Grandpa, which she co-wrote with elder Percy Henry. In the recorded lecture, Georgette tells stories of Percy’s history, his leadership among Yukon First Nations politics, and his passion for language revitalization. She takes the audience through the beautifully illustrated book, explaining the influence that Percy’s life story had on the grandpa character and the illustrations by Susan McCallum. Mahsi Cho to Georgette for delivering this wonderful talk!

You can read the audiobook version of Shëtsey – My Grandpa here or purchase a physical copy through the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre.

Georgette McLeod, Percy Henry, and Mabel Henry. Photo courtesy of Georgette McLeod.

Bio: Georgette McLeod was raised in the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Traditional Territory. Georgette is a Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizen of the wolf clan. Her mother is Bertha McLeod who taught Hän Language at the local school in the 1990s. Her grandparents are Mason and Martha McLeod who adopted Georgette when she was born. She spent a good part of her youth with her grandparents travelling around her traditional territory and visiting other Yukon First Nations at the time of intense negotiations for Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow. Georgette has worked for Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in for the better part of 20 years in many capacities, primarily in Heritage Department, and most recently as the Hän Language Administrator. She has worked on numerous language revitalization projects and resources for all ages, including the Shëtsey – My Grandpa book. Georgette is now on leave from her position to take on a new role as the Government Relations Coordinator in the Governance and Executive Operations Department.

The David Neufeld Memorial Lecture Organizing Committee includes Erin Neufeld, Karen Routledge, Glenn Iceton, Jonathan Luedee, and Heather Green. Inquiries about the Neufeld Lecture can be made to Karen Routledge at routledge@gmail.com

Feature Image: David photographing Tombstone Territorial Park in Fall. Courtesy Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Heritage Department.

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Heather Green is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Saint Mary's University. She is interested in the intersections of environmental and Indigenous histories, histories of Indigenous and Settler Relations, and mining history, particularly in the Canadian North. You can connect with her on twitter @heathergreen21.

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