Lorraine Weir

I am a settler scholar and oral historian, descendant of displaced Celts from An Gorta Mór the Irish Famine and the Highland Clearances. I grew up on unceded Kanien’kehá:ka Territory at the gathering place known as Tiohtià:ke Montréal, and on the Ancestral Homelands of the Beothuk on the island known as Ktaqmkuk Newfoundland, in St. John’s, on the Traditional Territories of the Mi’kmaq and Beothuk. I am Emeritus Professor of Indigenous Studies in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, on the unceded, Ancestral, and Traditional Territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm People where I have lived as an uninvited guest for most of my life.

I came to oral history from Irish studies early in my career and, many years later,  from Indigenous Studies via a bridge from the Law and Society field, where my initial focus was on freedom of speech in Canada and, more recently, on concepts of “time immemorial” and “oral tradition” in the Tŝilhqot’in case.

Trained by the great constitutional lawyer Joseph J. Arvay, I served as an expert witness in precedent-setting Canadian censorship court cases.

I've published  on censorship, James Joyce and semiotics,  and  on settler Canadian writers including Margaret Atwood and Nicole Brossard. Over many years as a faculty member in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver), I taught in all of these areas, and focussed the last two decades of my teaching at UBC on Indigenous Studies courses.

In August 2012, during my first visit to Xeni, I was invited by then Councillor and Plaintiff Roger William to collaborate on a book about the Tŝilhqot’in title case with him and we began interviewing in June 2013 during the second CEAA (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) panel hearing into the proposed "New Prosperity" mine.

A couple of years later, after sixteen lengthy interviews, Chief Roger asked me to interview Xeni Gwet’in community members  and others who were interested in contributing to the project. and that was the beginning of a multi-year process.  I am grateful to have had  the opportunity to work with some of the great knowledge keepers of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation.  Though many are now in the spirit world, they left  some of their words in Lha Yudit’ih for future generations.

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