Jillian Ridington joined Robin Ridington in his work at the Doig River First Nation in 1978. She shares his love of Dane-zaa stories and song. They have recorded and photographed the many changes that have come to the Dane-zaa people and their territory over the past decades. Jillian has published many articles on women's issues, and is particularly interested in the lives of Dane-zaa women.
Robin Ridington has worked with Dane-zaa people since 1964. He is a professor emeritus in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia. He was fortunate to know the last Dreamer, Charlie Yahey, and many other Dane-zaa who have now gone on the trail to heaven. The recordings and photographs that Robin made in the 1960s form a core part of the Dane-zaa archive. Robin is the author of Trail to Heaven and Little Bit Know Something, as well as many articles on Dane-zaa culture and philosophy.
Robin Ridington has been working with the Dane-zaa since the 1960s (2). This alone is a testament to his ability to work with the community. He was in the vanguard of academics willing to form relationships with the First Nations they were working with, rather than simply taking information and leaving; or worse, merely using the work of others and never actually talking to the Nation in question. This book is a fine example of what such a relationship can produce. Where Happiness Dwells provides an excellent history of the Dane-zaa from earliest times to the present and stands as an example of the abiding power of oral history.
I would also say that Nancy and my shared experiences in the Children's Spontaneous Music Workshops and the continuation of that approach through other grants that we obtained later through Health and Welfare Canada was core in the design of the program. Free improvisation was very important. Also, in the beginning, we had a strong First Nations influence because of my own cultural background. I remember that I was able to arrange for our students to have the Haida House at the Museum of Anthropology all to ourselves one night. And we had the most amazing experiences improvising there. We also had the run of the entire Museum that night � just us. This was because I was a student of Robin Ridington and Marjorie Halpin. Robin was my mentor and advisor in Anthropology while I did my Master's degree at UBC. And Marjorie was one of my professors and Curator of the Museum. They were both very supportive of Music Therapy because they understood how the arts are core to preventative and curative systems of health in Native communities. Robin was also a speaker at our Canadian Association for Music Therapy (CAMT) conference in Vancouver in 1978.