All posts by Native Earth

What’s On In Aki Studio

Aki Studio is located at 585 Dundas Street East in Toronto,
on the main floor of the Daniels Spectrum.


 in time
A Dance Solo by Anisa Tejpar

November 30 – December 2, 2017 | Tickets $23-$25

Urgent Voices
Continuum Contemporary Music

December 8 – 9, 2017 | Tickets $15-$35


February 6 – 18, 2017 | Tickets $15-$25

Buy Tickets and see our Calendar.

Ticket Pick-Up and Box Office Information can be found here.

This venue is supported by the following organizations:


Ipperwash: Performer Profile | J.D. Smith

We welcome Mohawk actor James Dallas Smith to the cast of Native Earth’s new production of Ipperwash by Falen Johnson. Having been part of the first production at Blyth Festival, and Weesageechak Begins to Dance, our annual development festival of Indigenous work, this production will be J.D.’ first full production at Native Earth, as well as his second time working with the acclaimed Six Nations playwright.

“Humour is a defining quality in a character with real depth and dimension. Good writers make it seem natural and not forced. Falen finds a vein of humour for most of her characters that has the rare combination of being both unique and universal. Sometimes tender, sometimes awkward, sometimes biting. She wields humour as a weapon, uses it to dissolve tension and always employs it beautifully to give clear glimpses of what’s going on below the surface.”

“You can’t abuse, poison, and take from someone or something for three quarters of a century and then expect it to heal in less than ten years.”

Ipperwash follows Bea King, an Anishinaabe veteran of the Afghanistan war, who returns to Canada in search of a new life, and soon discovers the devastating history of Camp Ipperwash, the former Canadian military base built on appropriated land.

“Ipperwash has a lot of history. Parts of it are well known, but parts of it are strangely unknown. The biggest surprise for me was how far this community has to go before they and their land are healed. The majority of folks I talked to about this – who live off Stoney or Kettle Point – believe the situation has been solved. But that is not true.”

For over 70 years, the government’s promise to return the land after the war went unfulfilled, and the land is still dangerously contaminated to this day.

“You can’t abuse, poison, and take from someone or something for three quarters of a century and then expect it to heal in less than ten years. Irrevocable damage has been done to these people and this land. There are things that are gone forever.”

Upon watching Ipperwash, J.D. hopes people will understand the scope of the harm done to the communities and their land, and how much more we – as a country and a “civilized society” – have to do to help them get better and ensure this does not happen again.


Ipperwash opens on February 7 and runs until February 18 at Aki Studio. Read more about the show here, and get your tickets here.

More tidbits about James-Dallas Smith

What was your first job in theatre?
Heart of a Distant Tribe. Started the week after I graduated Ryerson.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Let go of what you don’t need.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
I was taught and believe that art – regardless of form or cultural background – is the mirror we hold up to society to examine ourselves. We, as artists, are supposed to tackle uncomfortable ideas that articulate difficult truths or concepts. It’s one of the fundamental reasons good art endures. It challenges us and makes us ask hard questions so we can try to better ourselves.

Who is your Indigenous role model? How do they inspire you?
Jay Silverheels. A pioneer who championed our right to tell our own stories.

What are you reading/listening/watching right now?
Reading: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer.
Listening: U2 [Songs of Experience]
Watching: X-Files

Where is your favourite place to be?
At home with pizza.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
The distilling of a complex, difficult and spiritually rich history into a single moment.

From AD Keith Barker

Nothing beats a good story. The best storytellers can make 8 hours of data-entry riveting. As a theatre maker I am always striving to be a better storyteller. When I am in a room full of talented storytellers, it is the best kind of alchemy. I laugh more, cry more, argue more, think more, but most of all, I remain present. This is the gift of good storytelling and live theatre.

This is why I feel our Weesageechak Festival is so important in the work we do. It allows artists to bring work in its rawest form to the stage; sharing the guts of it whiles the blood and sweat of creation is still wet on the floor. It is a culmination of playwrights madly writing, dancers and choreographers building physical language, dramaturges finely tuning words to the action, while actors put action to words. This is the energy that fills the Aki Studio on any given night of the festival, and is what makes Weesageechak so special.

That energy of creation and the excitement in finding new ways of approaching the work is why we programmed Ipperwash this season. The play comes to us fresh from its success at the Blyth Festival this past season. The collaboration with the communities of Stony and Kettle Point First Nation is unlike anything I have seen before. Falen Johnson and Jessica Carmichael have done a lot of work to honour the story of resistance, resilience and reclamation.  We along with Blyth Artistic Director Gil Garratt are excited to give Ipperwash a second production in Toronto. Falen and Jessica are talented creators who have played a huge part in the success of Native Earth and we are honoured to have them in our 2017/18 season.

Finding Wolastoq Voice is a piece I have been excited about since I first heard about it. Five minutes on the phone with its creator Samaquani Cocahq (The Water Spirit) Natalie Sappier, and I was sold. Her passion for the work is impressive. Her clarity and vision infectious. She has partnered with the equally talented Artistic Director of Theatre New Brunswick, Thomas Morgan Jones to create this stunning work. Rarely have we had the opportunity to partner with an East Coast company, so we jumped at the chance to partner with Theatre New Brunswick to showcase the hugely talented Natalie Sappier, Aria Evans, and the gifted design team of Andy Moro and Michael Doherty, directed by Thomas Jones. This is a piece not to be missed.

In closing, this year I will work on trying to connect more with artists, to be more generous with people, to lead with empathy not judgement, and to celebrate this life through art (and hockey). I look forward to seeing many of you at the theatre. What a gift. All my relations, K.