Embodying Power and Place
"Water Ceremony" by Natalie Sappier
In 2019, the federal commission on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released their final report, Reclaiming Power and Place. You should read it.
In 2020 we commission a dozen artists to read and respond to specific chapters of the report through their performance medium.
In 2021 the work will be made available for staging by artists across Turtle Island as an embodiment, an honouring, an amplification.
Our team is incredible, including Janet Antone, Tara Beagan, Yolanda Bonnell, Darla Contois, Deborah Courchene, Aria Evans, Eekwol, Jessica Lea Fleming, Falen Johnson, Émilie Monnet, Yvette Nolan, Michelle Olson, Natalie Sappier (click on artist names below to expand bio).
We are grateful for the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Ms. Antone's Beadwork is dynamic and contemporary , beaded earrings and accessories handmade by Janet Antone, a proud member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, with amazing detail in a variety of colours and designs with pieces for both pierced and non pierced ears. She has started the Indigenous Pop Up shows that take place around London, ON and showcase a variety of Indigenous Handmade goods. She also provides “How to start” workshop series where she empowers other Indigenous entrepreneurs to get started in their business.
Tara Beagan is Ntlaka’pamux and Irish “Canadian.” As a playwright, Tara has been in residence at Cahoots Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts, Berton House, and the National Arts Centre. Seven of her twenty-six plays are published, and two have received Dora Award nominations. Commissions have included Prairie Theatre Exchange, Theatrefront, KICK, mysterious entity, and Praxis. Tara served as AD of Native Earth Performing Arts for 3 years. Prior to this, she was an actor, director, dramaturg, Community Liaison, Playwright-in-Residence, and an Artistic Associate for NEPA. As an actor, Beagan has received Dora and Betty award nominations, and has appeared on CBC TV and radio, her favorite as “Portia” in Thomas King’s Dead Dog in the City. Beagan co-directs ARTICLE 11 with Andy Moro. A11 is an Indigenous activist arts creation & production company who have played Edinburgh, Toronto, Kitchener/Waterloo, Winnipeg, Regina, Vancouver, Wellington Aotearoa, Sydney & Melbourne.
Yolanda Bonnell (She/Her) is a Queer 2 Spirit Ojibwe/South Asian performer, playwright and poet from Fort William First Nation in Thunder Bay, ON. Now based in Tkarón:to, and a graduate of Humber College’s Theatre Performance program, Yolanda’s recently Dora nominated solo show bug, had its world premiere at the Luminato Festival in 2018, followed by a national tour. bug will be remounted in Thunder Bay September 2019 and at Theatre Passe Muraille in February 2020. She was also a part of Factory Theatre’s The Foundry, a creation program for new career writers, where her play, Scanner continues to be developed towards production. Yolanda was also invited to be part of the Banff Playwright’s Lab with her piece, White Girls in Moccasins, which is now in residency at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. She was named one of NOW Magazine's Theatre Discoveries and most exciting artists to watch in Summerworks 2016 and most recently one of 15 stage artists to watch in fall of 2019 with Natasha Greenblatt, who she co-wrote The Election with which will be on stage October 2019.
www.yolandabonnell.com. Select theatre performance credits include: Valerie in The Unnatural and Accidental Women (National Arts Centre Indigenous Theatre), Doctor 2 / Abby 3 in Four Sisters (Paradigm Theatre/Luminato Festival 2019), Edith in Kamloopa (Western Canada Theatre/Persephone Theatre), Femi in Cake (Theatre Passe Muraille/New Harlem), Ipruq/Atugauq in The Breathing Hole (Stratford Festival), Fanny/Robert in Treasure Island (Stratford Festival), Theresa in The Crackwalker (Factory Theatre). Upcoming: Narrator and Bear son in Two Odysseys: Pimooteewin/ Gállábártnit (Signal Theatre/Soundstreams).
Darla Contois is a Cree-Salteaux performer and playwright. She graduated from the Centre for Indigenous Theatre's professional training program in 2014, attended David Smukler's National Voice Intensive and premiered her solo show White Man’s Indian at Summerworks 2017 in Toronto where she was awarded the Emerging Artist Award. Darla has since been living and working professionally in her home territory treaty one; facilitating arts/storytelling workshops, mentoring Indigenous youth, acting, writing and starting a family.
Deborah Courchene is an Anishnaabe-ikwe from Sagkeeng Nation, MB. She has been a pillar of support in the actualizing of Indigenous performance works over the past decade. During Tara Began’s time as Artistic Director at Native Earth Performing Art, Deborah was recruited for her technical expertise and skill. As one the only female Technical Directors and Production Managers in the industry, Deborah has brought her creative flair and aiding in bringing Indigenous productions to Canadian theatre stages. As a recent graduate from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a minor in Publishing, Deborah has equipped herself with the skillsets to engage, promote and learn from the diverse and rich Indigenous communities that continue to create and inspire one another.
Aria Evans is a queer, award winning Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist working in dance; creation, performance and film. She draws on her experiences as a woman of mixed race (Afro-Indigenous, settler) as well as her BFA (2012) to capture meaningful social and cultural themes through her interactive art. Collaboration is the departure point to the work that she creates. She was co-Artistic Director of hub14 from 2013-2018 and the Toronto, Ontario and Canada Council for the arts have supported Aria’s endeavours as well as Volcano Theatre, Nightswimming Theatre, Jumblies Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts and b current. Aria has presented her own choreographic work with DanceWorks, The National Arts Centre, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Theatre New Brunswick, The Toronto Concert Orchestra, Ontario Culture Days, Soulpepper, SummerWorks, Nightwood Theatre, the University of Toronto, HarbourKIDS, Native Earth Performing Arts, the Toronto Fringe, FRESH BLOOD, the Gardiner Museum, the Harbourfront Centre’s Next Step Series, Series 808 and Dance Ontario, Long Winter, Labspace Studio and many more. Her works have been presented in both North America and Europe. She has toured with Theatre New Brunswick, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, created work commissioned by the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, performed for the Indspire awards, participated and performed in works by Lara Kramer, Tapestry Opera - Michelle Olson, Sylvain Émard, Kaeja d'Dance, Michael Greyeyes and Yvette Nolan, Penny Chouchie, Julia Sasso, Peggy Baker, The Banff Centre, A Tribe Called Red, Susan Lee, Constance Cooke and Expect Theatre, to name a few. Aria has sat on Canada Council and Dora Award juries, been an Invited Guest Contributor to the 20th anniversary Canadian Arts Summit, talked on interdisciplinary panels for CADA, TAPA’s INDIEX, DarkNights and On The Move. In 2017 she was chosen to participate as one of Culture Days' Youth Arts Ambassadors. Aria’s work in dance film has led her to being Kaeja d’Dance’s resident videographer and editor for the past six years. Independently, through film, she has collaborated with many of Toronto’s leading dance artists and organizations. Aria has done videography and editing for RT Collective, Dreamwalker Dance Company, MOonhORsE Dance Theatre, Julia Sasso Dances, Ryerson University, The Banff Centre, Dance Matters, Ella Cooper Creates, Canadian Dance Assembly and the Pulse Ontario Dance Conference, to name a few.
Eekwol (born Lindsay Knight) is a Canadian rapper from the Muskoday First Nation in Saskatchewan. She is a graduate of the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan (M.A.). Her master's thesis, completed through the Department of Native Studies, examines past and present Indigenous music and how both are interconnected. She later worked as a lecturer in the Native Studies department for University of Saskatchewan Native Studies department. She is known for "a passionate stance on indigenous culture and struggle" in her lyrics, and for political and social activities. These activities include sitting on an Indigenous Advisory Council, and as of December 7, 2015, becoming the Program Consultant for Aboriginal Arts and Community Engagement for the Saskatchewan Arts Board. After attending one of the events in Saskatoon regarding Truth and Reconciliation [Canada's mandated organization that acknowledges and documents residential schools] where she performed, she was deeply affected after hearing the stories of residential school survivors. Her reaction was to write about it, which is reflected in her song, "Ghosts".
jessica lea fleming
Jessica Lea Fleming is a Wiisaakodewinikwe (Métis) / Scottish-settler cisgendered woman originally from Penetanguishene, Ontario. She is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, producer and performer. Jessica creates in multi-disciplinary mediums as a means of exploring connection, identity and land-based knowledge. She is especially drawn to examining the duality and nuance of her mixed heritage as an opportunity to engage in -and encourage- emotional, environmental, social and spiritual evolution.
Jessica has directed for TV Series AMPLIFY on APTN, the pilot episode of Couleurs du Nord for TFO, as well as music videos for multi-award winning artists Celeigh Cardinal and iskwē. Her work has been featured at festivals and events such as Native Earth Performing Arts’ Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival (2014, 2018), Pan Am Games (2015), Buddies in Bad Times’ Building Reciprocity Cabaret (2017), the Indigenous Writers Gathering (2016), Skábmagovat Film Festival’s 20th Anniversary Spotlight on North America (2017), the National Screen Institute (2018), imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival (2019) and the Santa Fe Film Festival where her debut short film “scales” won Best Native Narrative Short (2017).
Jessica has programmed for the Regent Park Film Festival (2016), Talking Stick Festival (2016), the AGH Film Festival (2019, 2020), SpringWorks Festival (2020), IPAA's Inter-Tribal Gathering (2021) and has been a member of imagineNATIVE’s Awards Jury (2017). In 2015 she was a Featured Leader for the Ontario Ministry on the Status of Women and in 2017 she was one of twenty Invited Contributors to the 20th Canadian Arts Summit.
In 2020, Jessica was part of Luminato’s Fall Artist Residency and was short-listed for Canada's Prism Prize. Currently, she is the inaugural Artist-in-Residence at Theatre Aquarius, and is creating new works for stage and screen with MM Collective, New Harlem Productions and Signal Theatre.
Falen Johnson is Mohawk/Tuscarora (Bear Clan) from Six Nations Grand River Territory. She is a writer and podcaster. Her plays include Salt Baby, Two Indians, and Ipperwash (Dora Nomination) have played across Canada. Her writing has been featured in Brick, The Canadian Theatre Review, and Granta Magazine. She co-hosts The Secret Life of Canada (CBC Podcasts) with Leah Simone Bowen. She has written for Urban Native Girl (APTN) and Merchants of the Wild (APTN). She also scripted the 2020 Inspire Awards which will air on CBC in June. Falen was also named one of Maclean’s 20 to watch in 2020.
Emilie Monnet. At the intersection of theatre, performance and media arts, Émilie Monnet’s art practice favours collaborative processes of creation and are typically presented as interdisciplinary theatre or immersive performance experiences. She is the artist-in-residence at Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui in Montreal for three years and until 2021. Recently her work was programmed at Festival TransAmériques (2019) and the National Arts Centre (2020) and she often gets invited to work with artists in South America . In 2016, she founded Indigenous Contemporary Scene (ICS), a nomadic platform for the presentation of live arts by & creative exchanges for Indigenous artists. ICS's most recent edition was presented in Edinburgh in August 2019. Both Anishnaabe (Algonquin) and French, raised in the Outaouais, Quebec, she is now living in Tiohtià:ke / Mooniyaang / Montréal, and is the artistic director of Onishka Productions. Onishka.org
Yvette Nolan (Algonquin) is a playwright, director, and dramaturg. Plays include BLADE, Annie Mae’s Movement, The Birds (a modern adaptation of Aristophanes’ comedy), The Unplugging, Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show (co-writer), the libretto Shanawdithit, and the short film A Common Experience (w. Shane Belcourt). Directing credits include The Penelopiad (Ferre Play), Shanawdithit (w. Michael Mori, Tapestry Opera), Bearing (w. Michael Greyeyes, Signal Theatre at Luminato), The Piano Teacher by Dorothy Dittrich (Arts Club), In Care by Kenneth T Williams (Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwan Theatre), Nôhkom by Michael Greyeyes, Salt Baby by Falen Johnson (Globe), Map of the Land, Map of the Stars (w. Michelle Olson), Café Daughter by Kenneth T Williams, Justice by Leonard Linklater (Gwaandak), Death of a Chief, A Very Polite Genocide by Melanie J. Murray, Marie Clements’ Tombs of the Vanishing Indian and The Unnatural and Accidental Women (Native Earth), The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (Western Canada Theatre/National Arts Centre), The Only Good Indian... , The Triple Truth (Turtle Gals). As a dramaturg, she works across Turtle Island on projects including Queen Seraphina and the Land of Vertebraat by Adam Pottle, Many Fires by Charlie Peters, Ecstasy (film) by Cara Mumford, Little Badger and the Fire Spirit by Maria Campbell, Confluence by Raven Spirit Dance in Vancouver, In Care by Kenneth T Williams, A Soldier’s Tale by Tara Beagan, Ultrasound by Adam Pottle, A History of Breathing by Daniel Macdonald, The Glooskape Chronicles by Donna Loring. From 2003-2011, she served as Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts. She has been the Playwright In Residence at the National Arts Centre, the Richler Writer In Residence at McGill, the Writer in Residence at the Saskatoon Public Library, Mount Royal University, University of Regina, and Brandon University. In 2014, she founded the Short Cuts Festival of 10 Minute Plays in Saskatoon. Her book Medicine Shows about Indigenous theatre in Canada was published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2015, and Performing Indigeneity, which she co-edited with Ric Knowles, in 2016. She is an Artistic Associate of Signal Theatre.
Michelle Olson is a member of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and the Artistic Director of Raven Spirit Dance. She studied dance and performance at the University of New Mexico, the Aboriginal Arts Program at the Banff Centre and was an Ensemble Member of Full Circle First Nations Performance. Michelle works in areas of dance, theatre and opera as a choreographer, performer and movement coach and her work has been seen on stages across Canada. Selected choreographic credits include Gathering Light (Raven Spirit Dance), Mozart’s Magic Flute (Vancouver Opera), The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (Western Canada Theatre/National Arts Centre), Death of a Chief (Native Earth Performing Arts/National Arts Centre). She was the recipient of the inaugural Vancouver International Dance Festival Choreographic Award.She graduated as a Certified Movement Analyst from Laban/Bartenieff and Somatic Studies Canada and is currently teaching at Langara’s Studio 58.
Reneltta is an Inuvialuit, Dene and Cree from the Northwest Territories. She is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting program and founder of Akpik Theatre, a professional Indigenous Theatre company in the NWT. Akpik Theatre focuses on establishing an authentic Northern Indigenous voice through theatre and storytelling. Raised by her grandparents on the trap-line until school age, this nomadic environment gave Reneltta the skills to become the multi-disciplined artist she is now. Reneltta has taken part in or initiated the creation of Indigenous Theatre across Canada and overseas. Under Akpik Theatre, Reneltta has written, produced, and performed various works focusing on decolonization and using theatre as a tool for reconciliation. This includes Pawâkan Macbeth, a Plains Cree adaptation of Macbeth written by Arluk on Treaty 6 territory. Pawâkan Macbeth was inspired by working with youth and elders on the Frog Lake reserve. Reneltta is the first Inuk and first Indigenous woman to direct at The Stratford Festival. She was awarded the Tyrone Guthrie - Derek F. Mitchell Artistic Director's Award for her direction of the The Breathing Hole. Reneltta is Director of Indigenous Arts at BANFF Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Natalie Sappier-Samaqani Cocahq (The Water Spirit) is a Wolastoqiyik Indigenous multidisciplinary storyteller from Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick. She began her arts practice as a painter. Painting awakened her healing journey. She is constantly enlightened by learning from the lands, waters and her Wabanaki people and carries the teachings pass down to her as the core of her artistic practice. She realized early in her painting career that she was not painting just for herself, but she was painting for her people-She was painting for her ancestors-She is painting for her people-She is painting for healing. Today she feels her stories need to be heard louder than a painting can speak and she began a journey of expressing her stories through song and spoken word. Learning, creating and sharing with her Wabanaki Sisters and Brothers to carry forward stories for our next generations. For she believes that this is our Indigenous way of being and teaching.
She has written and composed her first play Finding Wolastoq Voice that has toured on National Stages and she is currently the Artist in Residence at University of New Brunswick. Aside from her own artistic practice, Samaqani dedicates much of her time in the advocacy of the arts, culture, wellness and mentorship for Indigenous artists and participates in numerous collaborations of diverse circles that focus on community initiatives and projects.
jaye simpson an Oji-Cree Saulteaux indigiqueer writer with roots in Sapotaweyak Cree Nation. They often write about being queer in the Child Welfare system, as well as being queer and Indigenous. Their work has been featured in Poetry Is Dead, This Magazine, PRIMS international, SAD Mag, GUTS Magazine and Room. simpson resides on the unceded and ancestral territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), səlilwəta’Ɂɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations peoples, currently and colonially known as Vancouver, BC.
aqua nibii waawaaskone
Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone is a free spirit interdisciplinary artist and activist. Though she is a proud Anishinaabe Kwe of mixed ancestry; Ojibwe Métis with Irish and French heritage, she also identifies as a 2Spirit genderless being.Through this difficult time Aqua is continuing to perform her original medicine music and lead circles for her community as she is an advocate for anyone who has endured violence and adversity. She provides a safe space in her sacred circles and performances so the community can grow together, stronger, forever as a whole.
DM St. bernard
DM St. Bernard acted as curator and dramaturge for the works in this collection.