Professor David Garneau and Dr. Taiwo Afolabi have been elected to the Royal Society of Canada

David Garneau is a highly respected Métis artist, curator, and scholar who has attracted national and international renown for his original contributions to contemporary Indigenous art.

He says he is committed to artistic expressions of contemporary Indigenous identities and creative forms of conciliation, and that his practice is deeply rooted in Métis territory.

“I’ve derived knowledge and creative energy from the land and from First Nations and Métis Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and artists. Much of my work centers Métis land and ways of being,” says Garneau.

Garneau has shared his ideas in publications and keynote talks, through his paintings, videos, and performances locally, nationally, and internationally. He has also co-curated important exhibitions in Montreal, Regina, Sydney, Australia, and the Museum of the American Indian in New York. Earlier this year, he was awarded the Governor General's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual and Media Arts.

For these contributions to the Canadian intellectual and artistic landscape, Garneau has been elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada.


Garneau says he is honoured by the election.

“It is a humbling experience. I could not have produced the work that led to this recognition without the support of the University of Regina and my colleagues, my partner, Sylvia Ziemann, and the many others who funded, hosted, and collaborated with me over the years," says Garneau.

Dr. Jeff Keshen, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Regina, says Garneau’s accomplishments, outstanding reputation, and unparalleled expertise are evident across all facets of his professional identity as artist, curator, and scholar.

“The impact and extent of David’s contributions are deeply significant to the expression of Métis and Indigenous identities in contemporary art,” says Keshen.

Dr. Carmen Robertson is a Canada Research Chair in North American Art and Material Culture at Carleton University. She worked with Garneau at the University of Regina between 2007 and 2018, and in her letter of support for his election, she writes, “It is difficult to classify Garneau’s exceptional career as one of an artist, or as a curator, or a writer because he is a consummate “renaissance man” in the sense that his ideas have extended into diverse areas of cultural production. As is made clear in his CV, Garneau has also given back to the Métis community on the prairies, as a board member, and by contributing to projects that support Métis concerns.”

Member in the College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists

Dr. Taiwo Afolabi is a Canada Research Chair in Socially Engaged Theatre and a University of Regina associate professor in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance.

A Black interdisciplinary artist-researcher from Africa, he is internationally recognized for his research-based theatre focusing on social justice, human rights, and anti-racism education among Indigenous, immigrant, and marginalized communities.

Afolabi says that through global theatre projects and publications, his practice-based research encompasses issues of sexual health, education, policing, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, African theatre, homelessness, immigration, and language revitalization.

For his work, Afolabi was inducted as a Member in the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada.


Afolabi says he is delighted and humbled by this recognition.

“I see this entry into the Royal Society as an opportunity to bring interdisciplinary and intercultural perspectives to strengthen the College’s commitment to equity. I will continue to challenge the norms of society and to create inclusive environments to ensure robust and nuanced understanding, which is necessary for a hopeful and equitable future, a vision at the heart of my research and practice," says Afolabi.

Keshen says Afolabi has made a significant impact on socially-engaged theatre in Canada and around the world.

“Through his practice as an artist and scholar, Taiwo provides a safe and brave space to share participants’ cultures and stories, and to collectively envision a positive shared future,” says Keshen.

Afolabi is the founder and director of the newly established Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre (C-SET), the co-editor of the Journal of Arts and Communities (Intellect), the Vice-President of the Canadian Association of Theatre Research (CATR)/ACTR, the associate editor of the Canadian Theatre Review (CTR), and the representative of the ITI/UNESCO Network for Higher Education and Research Institutions.

He is also a research affiliate at the Universities of Johannesburg (South Africa) and London (UK), as well as the founding Artistic Director of Theatre Emissary International (Nigeria and Canada).

Dr. Derek Goldman, professor of theatre and performance studies, professor of culture, politics, and global performance, and the artistic and executive director and co-founder of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University, provided a letter of support for Afolabi’s induction as a Member.

“In my more than 25-year career in the academy, and working in the field of global performance studies at the intersection of performing arts and politics/ social change, Dr. Afolabi is one of the handful of most remarkable colleagues I have ever encountered. If I were to pick a handful of people from around the world who are best equipped to lead us forward in mobilizing artistic practice in pursuit of a better and more just world – he would be at the top of the list,” writes Goldman.

The mandate of the Royal Society of Canada is to serve Canada and Canadians by recognizing Canada’s leading intellectuals, scholars, researchers, and artists and, by mobilizing them in open discussion and debate, to advance knowledge, encourage integrated interdisciplinary understandings, and address issues that are critical to Canada and Canadians

About the author
Krista Baliko is the University of Regina’s research communications strategist and the editor of Discourse Research Magazine.