Animikiig Training Program

The Animikiig Training Program offers Indigenous artists who are in the emerging stage of theatrical creation the chance to develop their craft through practical experience in workshops and creating/writing sessions with established performing arts professionals.

The aim is to commit to Animikiig writers through the development of their work.

Creators are chosen to develop their work during the course of Native Earth’s season. The program’s aim is to commit to these creators for a minimum of one year, through the development of their work to a staged reading of their piece during the company’s Weesageechak Festival.

Professional artists join the group to share their particular approach and skills in play development.

Invited professional artists join the group to share their particular approach and skills in play development.  The group spends time discussing reading and writing material with their peers which have been assigned to them by the program facilitators. Each monthly focus is supported by articles, interviews and videos around the topic of creating new work.

Each Animikiig creator is given the opportunity to meet in private with a dramaturge for an in-depth discussion of their work and the ways in which it can continue to grow.


Yolanda Bonnell
Ian Cusson
Cathy Elliott
Aria Evans
Sarah Gartshore
Celeste Sansregret

Animikiig Program Director:
Diana Belshaw


Animikiig is the Ojibwe word for the initial rumblings that tell us of the thunder storm that is to come.

Initially called Young Voices, Animikiig, was founded by Yvette Nolan and DM St. Bernard in response to the growing number of new Aboriginal playwrights.

Native Earth is proud to have had work such as Agokwe by Waawaate Fobister, Giiwedin by Spy Dénommé-Welch and Salt Baby by Falen Johnson as part of the program before they went on to full productions. We anticipate more great works will find full voice in the Animikiig Training Program.

We are extremely grateful for the  past work done by our past artistic directors in building Animikiig and Thundering Voices, and look forward to deepening their work through the amalgamation of both programs into the Animikiig Training Program.

In response to the deepening skill level of the Animikiig participants, Yvette Nolan launched the inaugural year of Thundering Voices in 2009. This more intensive tier of artist development was named in tribute to our late company Elder and friend, Helen Thundercloud. As an adult educator, Helen was committed to First Nation’s efforts to achieve self-determination.

Native Earth Performing Arts recognizes our responsibility as artists to ensure that Aboriginal stories persist on Canadian stages. Through the work, participants develop writing skills and their own processes to develop work, tread the path to self-actualization, build up discipline, assurance in self-expression, business acumen, and become a part of a community that will serve their work into the future.

2014 OAC Logo Colour JPG

We acknowledge the support of The Chawkers Foundation and the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), an agency of the Government of Ontario, which last year funded 1737 individual artists and 1095 organizations in 233 communities across Ontario for a total of $52.1 million.