Category Archives: 2017/2018 Season

Aria Evans: What is my generation fighting for or against?

As the 2016-2017 Animikiig Creators Unit slowly nears its final stages, we’re thrilled to host a two-evening special of what some of the participating creators have been busy drafting, practicing and putting together in the last two years.

With the support from Program Director Diana Belshaw, the two evenings introduces the next generation of creators, including emerging contemporary dance artist, Aria Evans and her solo piece, link. “I wanted to challenge myself and do something that I haven’t done before. I wanted to create a work that related specifically to my generation – to ask questions that I knew I had.”

link is a warrior dance about the blockades we come across in life. Focusing on the idea of forging ahead, link asks the question: What is my generation fighting for or against? “I was struggling to find my voice and I wanted to make the discovery part of the creative process”

“[link] is about fighting through things, moving past things, overcoming things. It’s a metaphor for all the things we go through in life, all the barriers, and the all the people we come into contact with and continue to move forward.”

Participating in the Animikiig Creators Unit provided the kind of support and check-in system that helped Aria move the project forward. “I have spent a lot of time being on the outside of the work I create, for this piece I knew that I couldn’t do it alone.”

See an excerpt of Aria Evan’s link on November 22nd at Weesageechak 30. Learn more about the Animikiig Creators Unit here.

More from Aria Evans

What makes Indigenous performing arts important to you?
I remember the first time I saw someone of colour perform on stage, it was the first time I recognized the arts as being a viable career path. I think if we continue to inspire the next generations, our world can become more liberated and expressive.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
If you never ask, the answer will always be no.

Do you have any advice for emerging Indigenous creators?
Tell the people whose work you like that you like it, and that you would love the opportunity to work with them in any capacity.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
My own personal experiences and conversations that I have with other people – my work is usually created from a social and political lens. I follow my interests then invite people to build upon the ideas or images that come forward.

What is coming up next for you?
I am doing a tour with Theatre New Brunswick – it will be touring to Native Earth on March 30 – April 1, 2017.

To me, art is:
Art is a way to have challenging conversations and allow people to question their role in the world. Art is a way to build allies and compassion.

Catch Aria Evans’s link on
Wednesday, November 22nd @ 7:30pm

Celeste Sansregret: The world gives you a story everyday

As part of an Animikiig special, we have Celeste Sansregret and a workshop preview of her work Ursa Majoris. Animikiig Creators Unit is  two-year development program for emerging Indigenous creators to develop their work with professional support and resources.

“I took a meeting with Jessica Lea Fleming and pitched her on two projects. She like Ursa Majoris because it was different from anything else Native Earth had in development. Ursa Majoris is a large ambitious project. I knew I would need support to create something of this scale.”

The inspiration for the play came from her own personal experience. “An old boyfriend asked me to tell him a bedtime story.  I started to write something for him but we broke up before I was able to finish. URSA was the story that resulted from his request.  So our love story didn’t last, but this story remains.”

See an excerpt of Celeste Sansregret’s latest work on November 22nd at Weesageechak 30. And learn more about the Animikiig Creators Unit here.

More from Celeste Sansregret

What makes Indigenous performing arts important to you?
Artists give voice, form and deep expression to the full range of life’s experiences – both good and bad. Indigenous artists need to speak with our own voices about the history and lived experiences of our community. We don’t need other people telling us who we are or what we have lived. We need to freely express ourselves.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“The work is always there when you’re ready to go back to it.”

Do you have any advice for emerging Indigenous creators?
See everything you possibly can. In Toronto, I go to the theatre once a week. Take care of yourself, mentally, physically and emotionally. Don’t judge yourself for needing to have a job other than your art.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
The world gives you a story everyday, if you’re paying attention.

Who is your Indigenous role model? How do they inspire you?
My paternal grandmother:  she had a career as a furrier for Holt’s before she was married and then, she was widowed with three teen-aged sons to raise.  No matter her circumstances, she was elegant, kind and generous, and she instilled that kindness and generosity in her sons

What is coming up next for you?
Weesageechak! Looking very forward to sharing GG and Maggie’s love story with an audience.

To me, art is:
My life: I began performing at 3 1/2 and co-created my first show at 9. When I’m not making art, I’m thinking about art. I can’t imagine my life without art.

Catch Celeste Sansregret’s Ursa Majoris on
Wednesday, November 22nd @ 7:30pm

Weesageechak 30

Our Annual Festival of Indigenous Work

November 15-25, 2017
7:30pm | Aki Studio

Tickets $15
Festival Passes $60 by phone


Celebrating our 30th year, Native Earth welcomes artists representing the span of the festival and the company’s history through an array of works-in-development and presentations in dance, theatre and interdisciplinary styles.  We welcome back familiar faces and introduce audiences to emerging creators just coming onto the scene.

This year’s festival opens with a workshop preview of Vancouver Moving Theatre’s Weaving Reconciliation, in partnership with Jumblies Theatre, which will return to Aki Studio for its premiere in June 2018. We once again partner with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre to present the 2-Spirit Cabaret, and bring back the Professional Development Series.

Taking place over two weeks in Aki Studio, this festival offers audiences access to the rich and diverse Indigenous experiences as expressed through the arts. Join us in the celebration!


Weaving Reconciliation
presented by Vancouver Moving Theatre

Bury by Alanis King
White Noise by Taran Kootenhayoo
The Weekend presented by Moogahlin Performing Arts

Riot Resist Revolt Repeat by Frances Koncan
Whale Killer by Kenneth Williams

The Last Dance by Yvonne Wallace
Starlight Journey by Josh Languedoc
Hate Mail by Spy Denomme-Welch

link by Aria Evans
Ruby Comfort by Ian Cusson
Survivance by Sarah Gartshore

Ursa Majoris by Celeste Sansregret
Lonecloud by Cathy Elliott

Bad Indian by Brefny Caribou
Echoes by Olivia Shortt
Forest Floor by Kristy Janvier

Curated & Hosted by Michaela Washburn
in partnership with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Deer Woman by Tara Beagan
The Seventh Fire by Lisa Ravensbergen

TICKETS Available soon.

Single Tickets $15.
$60 Festival Passes available by telephone.
Purchases made online or by telephone are by credit card only.
At the door payments accepted by cash, debit, VISA and Mastercard.
For information on group rates, call the box office at 416-531-1402 x 34.

Box Office Telephone: 416-531-1402 x 34 

Alanis King: “Illuminating and Invigorating”

Weesageechak 30 welcomes many familiar faces, including former Artistic Director Alanis King. The Odawa playwright brings her latest work, Bury which is an ode to the reclamation of the Anishinaabe language and a celebration of the resilience of those who have lived through the residential school system.

Inspired by her mother, her aunties and their friends, Bury brings their experiences at residential schools in the 40’s to the forefront, and highlights their resilience as children during that time. The play contributes to the theme of reconciliation through King’s Anishinaabe background.

Returning to Weesageechak, King is excited to be part of the festival – to be part of the milieu of sharing new work and seeing what others are up to, but most importantly, participating in a festival which focuses on feedback, exploration and public response. “To me, that’s an amazing treat after the playwriting isolation stage.”

We’re also excited to host King again and to share a workshop preview of her latest work – Make sure to catch Bury on Thursday, November 16th!

More from Alanis King

Who is your Indigenous role model? How do they inspire you?
Pam Palmateer and Cindy Blackstock – because they both fight endlessly against government’s historic and systemic racism within Canada’s institutions, they are crusaders and champions with big bullhorns.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
From my life and Anishinaabe heroes, language and culture.

Do you have any advice for Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Take it one play at a time.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
Since the Indian Act, we are walking through political topics. Scriptwriting allows you to be political without having to practice law or run for public office. Our voices matter, no matter how it is expressed.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
Everything. It’s illuminating and invigorating.

See Alanis King’s Bury on
Thursday, November 16th @ 7:30pm

Josh Languedoc:

“Honour Our Storytelling”

Josh Languedoc returns for his second consecutive Weesageechak Begins to Dance with Starlight Journey. Languedoc believes the festival will help move the piece towards production by sharing the story and receiving feedback from the audience and the Indigenous community.

Starlight Journey takes us on a family’s journey in search of answers to their young son’s mysterious death.

“…how can we as a society move past hatred and inequality towards one another?”

“What inspired me to write this piece was learning about Starlight Toursfrom the practice of police officers picking up Indigenous folk, driving them to remote locations and forcing them to walk home. This has led to many controversies around race and the use of power by law enforcement.”

Through Starlight Journey, Languedoc wishes to shine a light on voices which have been lost, and to ignite discussions around the lives lost. “I want my play to have audiences question their own sense of humanity – how would they feel if they lost a family member to a Starlight Tour? How would this act affect their community? How would they deal with loss and grief? And most importantly, how can we as a society move past hatred towards one another?”

Make sure to catch Languedoc’s new work on Saturday, November 18th.

More from Josh Languedoc

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
The land. As I reconnect to my Indigenous roots, I rely less on people for inspiration, and turn to nature. It is full of wonder and wisdom. My art features a balance of nature and humanity trying to co-exist together.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Trust the universe. It bestows gifts upon us if we are willing to listen.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
I think it’s very beneficial, but doesn’t have to be a part of every project. Some projects can absolutely take a stand and address the political tensions associated with the Indigenous peoples. However, I see extreme value in honouring our storytelling for the purpose of community engagement.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
Reclamation. Thanks to the wonderful movement across Canada, Indigenous Art is bringing back what was long forgotten. I see Indigenous Art as a way to celebrate and honour those who are marginalized. I see it as a way to honour traditions, storytelling and language that has survived near-genocide.

What is coming up next for you?
I will be continuing to write my play with the support of Workshop West Playwrights Theatre. I am also developing four Indigenous theatre projects as part of my residency with Workshop West.

Catch Josh Languedoc’s Starlight Journey on
Friday, November 18th @ 7:30pm

Yvonne Wallace:

Art is active. It moves. And it’s political.

We’re excited to welcome back Yvonne Wallace with The Last Dance which tells a story of a young expecting mother who struggles to not become another statistic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. She must be brave for both herself and her unborn baby.

“It isn’t going away without a fight. We need to make big changes to empower our loved ones.”

Domestic violence is a topic that has been pushed to the sidelines, with vulnerable women and children being forgotten and silenced. “I feel that there is a deep-rooted systemic failure in protecting our women. There is also a connection between domestic violence, victim blaming, isolation, and our missing and murdered woman crisis. Many lives are still afflicted today.”

“I want people to walk away contemplative. Questioning how we can all make a positive change to this ongoing problem of domestic violence. It isn’t going away without a fight. We need to make big changes to empower our loved ones.”

Wallace hopes to raise awareness on the issue, and believes Weesageechak is the perfect place to share this story. “Who better to work through these difficult issues than a collective of compassionate Indigenous artists?”

An excerpt of The Last Dance will showcase on Saturday, November 18th.

More from Yvonne Wallace

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Listening to live music. Eavesdropping on public transit. Mostly, I draw on my life experience. Identifying as First Nations, Ucwalmicw, and living in contemporary society gives me inspiration.

What is your most memorable performance?
1995 Native Theatre School (CIT) toured to Pine Ridge South Dakota. We performed a collective piece Blood Memory. It was a during a Pow Wow and we had “the show must go on” mentality. Our set was in the middle of a run-down football field with glass and gravel. We finished the show for our half-dozen audience of children and puppies. Even though horses and motorcycles whizzed by, we were invincible.

Who is your Indigenous role model? How do they inspire you?
My Grandmother Lah. She gave me her time, lived modestly, fed many, and loved everyone. She was born in 1905, a residential school survivor, and mother of 10 children. Her security during her lifetime was minimal. When I think about her limitations and all the children she raised by living off the land with hard work and patience, her memory is awe inspiring.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t ever let your chin hit your chest.

Do you have any advice for new Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Keep at it and surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. I know that there are many obstacles, but if you just keep doing the work, the work will find you. I promise. I’ve seen so many of my peers who started out with me do some incredible work.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
Art is active, it moves, and it’s political. Life was already political before I was born. Salmon numbers were on the decline; My siblings were sent to residential school by the court or my mother would’ve been sent to jail. Most of my community lived in poverty and my non-Indigenous father fell in love with my widowed mother of 6. My whole life has been subjected to limitations, but I’ve never accepted those limitations. In unity, we all need to convey our truth.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
I’ve been inspired by my peers and the bravery and intellect that they’ve shown in film, music, writing, theatre, visual art, photography, and performance art. Indigenous art has kept me grounded because we’re still here representing our Ancestors.

What is coming up next for you?
I’m working on a one-woman performance, Transformation. It deals with language revitalization. I’ve been working on my own fluency all my life. Capilano University has been supportive in making my dream, a reality.

You can catch Yvonne Wallace’s The Last Dance on
Saturday, November 18th @ 7:30pm

Taran Kootenhayoo: “Don’t Be Afraid to be Fully Indigenous”

We are excited to welcome new and emerging playwrights to Weesageechak 30, including Taran Kootenhayoo, the Denesuline and Nakoda Sioux actor and playwright who currently resides in Vancouver, BC. Kootenhayoo will share the first piece he has been able to develop as a playwright, which he describes it as “[his] offering to the conversation being had in this country.”

White Noise is a comedy on racial commentary – an effort to dissect the micro and macro nuance of racism that exists within Canada, particularly between Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks. “Through comedy, I hope to explore the layered racism that exist within ourselves and to witness it in others”.

“I’m hoping the effect of this piece will give room for people to have conversations that are usually awkward and ugly.”

“I want to learn from other people on this experience because I don’t have the answers myself. I’m curious to see exactly where we’re all at…we have a long way to go as a country in providing a safe space for different races to co-exist. It’s got to start somewhere and we’ll only know how to do that if we can sit inside of it together.”

Kootenhayoo hopes to witness and learn from like-minded creatives to better grow his work as an artist at the festival. “I also figured Weesageechak was the right place to present this work because Weesageechak is a trickster by nature, and I’d like to think of this work as a crafty teaching”.

Catch Kootenhayoo‘s White Noise on Thursday, November 16th!

More from Taran Kootenhayoo

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Protests, plays, books, graffiti/street art, spoken word poets, skateboarding, black and white film photography, the land, being in and out of love, hip-hop, cello, piano and still being alive.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t let the bastards get you down – Elaine Bomberry

Do you have any advice for new Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Don’t be afraid to be fully Indigenous. It may seem terrifying because we’ve been conditioned to not want to be who we are, but do it anyways.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
“Our existence is resistance.” I think it was Leanne Simpson who said this, although I could be terribly wrong. She’s amazing and I’m sure she did say this or something along the lines in some capacity.

In any case, what that statement tells me is that anything we do as Indigenous artists is in a way a resistance to the Western World. I believe that Indigenous art says, “I’m here. I’ve been here. And I’m not going anywhere anytime soon”. Of course, I cannot speak for everyone else. There’s something so beautiful about Indigenous art being present in any capacity. When I witness it, I feel a sense of home…which is hard to feel most times. Anyways, this is what I think, and I’m still trying to figure it out for myself.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
History. Love. Land. Roots. The Four directions. Family. All my relations.

See Taran Kootenhayoo’s White Noise on
Thursday, November 16th @ 7:30pm

Frances Koncan:

“Art Isn’t Limited to Traditional Practices”

Following a successful production of zahgidiwin/love featured in last year’s Weesageechak, Frances Koncan returns once again for her second year. “Weesageechak is one of the few places dedicated to amplifying Indigenous voices and perspectives and that allows artists to explore issues directly relevant to our communities and experience.”

The Anishinaabe writer and director, and the recent winner of 2017 Winnipeg Arts Council RBC On the Rise award, Koncan brings her latest work Riot Resist Revolt Repeat to Aki Studio.

Photo credit:

Inspired by recent events concerning pipelines and their environmental impact, Koncan aims to highlight the relationship between mental health and environmental health. Riot Resist Revolt Repeat follows a young Indigenous woman struggling with mental illness in her search for her missing sister in a world of scarcity and borders. With a similar dystopian tone and a sense of humour as zahgidiwin/love, the play questions established colonial ideas and concepts, including colonial treatments of mental illness of Indigenous peoples that perpetuate cycles of trauma. 

Catch Frances Koncan’s riveting new work Riot Resist Revolt Repeat on Friday, November 17th.

More from Frances Koncan

What is your most memorable performance?
I recently read a 5-minute erotic fanfiction piece inspired by “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?”. I honestly thought it went a little too well.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Everywhere! Usually in people and places that make me angry. Often in unexpected places, like 3 AM YouTube searches for “Brad Renfro Conspiracy Theory” that leads to something magical.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Fail big. Fail up.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
I believe Indigenous art isn’t limited to traditional practices, but rather encompasses any medium and form that includes in some capacity an intersectional perspective provided by an artist that lives the Indigenous experience, whatever that experience encapsulates.

What is coming up next for you?
I’ll be in Montreal for infinitetheatre’s playwrights Unit, then Vancouver for Playwright Theatre Centre’s WrightSpace.

See France Koncan’s Riot Resist Revolt Repeat on
Friday, November 17th @ 7:30pm

Kenneth T. Williams: “Challenge Your Mythology”

Weesageechak 30 is excited to have award-winning Cree playwright and former Native Earth Playwright-in-Residence, Kenneth T. Williams for this year’s festival. Following his 2014 reading of In Care at W27,  Williams returns with his latest work-in-progress, The Whale Killer.

The Whale Killer is inspired by a 2001 shooting of an RCMP officer in Cape Dorset during Williams’ time as a reporter for APTN National News. “There were a lot of unanswered questions about the murder. However, [The Whale Killer] is not my version of the events. It was a starting point and now doesn’t resemble anything that happened in the real event.”

“Because first and foremost, Indigenous people are my audience…I need to hear their responses first, they are who ground my work.”

Working with Artistic Director of Theatre Network (Edmonton, Alberta), Bradley Moss as dramaturge, Williams believes Weesageechak is the next step for The Whale Killer‘s evolution.

“First and foremost, Indigenous people are my audience. There is no other opportunity out there that allows me to present a play in progress to Indigenous theatre professionals. I need to hear their responses first, they are who ground my work.”

Williams hopes the workshop preview will capture everyone’s anticipation for The Whale Killer‘s full production. He also hopes to continue provoking discussions around issues that are important to the Indigenous community while doing quality work of which we can all be proud.

You can follow Williams on Twitter @feralplaywright for tweets about drama, Indigenous peoples and climate change. Make sure to catch The Whale Killer on Friday, November 17th!

More from Kenneth T. Williams

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Right now, a lot of my work comes from my years as a journalist. There were a lot of stories that I couldn’t tell, or I couldn’t tell as completely as I could, so now I re-examine them through the lens of a playwright.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
All plays can be shorter.

Do you have any advice for Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Challenge your own mythology.

Who is your role model? How do they inspire you?
My great-grandparents, John and Ethel Blind. They were hard working, tough and very loving people. They are my roots. They are my way forward.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
All Indigenous art is political. The history of this country trying to erase us means that all art and Indigenous expression is an act of resistance.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
Art created by Indigenous peoples is Indigenous art.

What is coming up next for you?
Café Daughter will be presented in Victoria in the spring. I was just hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Drama at the University of Alberta, so that’s keeping me extremely busy.

See Kenneth T. William’s Whale Killer on
Friday, November 17th @ 7:30pm

Henrietta Baird: “Without Our Art, We have nothing”

We’re thrilled to host Australia’s Moogahlin Performing Arts for a second year at Weesageechak Begins to Dance, this year featuring Kuku Yalanji/Yidinji playwright Henrietta Baird‘s work The Weekend. 

“Being an Aboriginal woman from a different country, I think [Weesageechak] is a great opportunity to present my script. It’s a festival where all Indigenous artists can be inspired and share our culture and our stories. A place to learn to be strong in our views as artists and what we believe in.”

The Weekend shares an intimate story of Baird and her experiences as a young mother trekking through a world of public housing, drug dealing, and threats of losing her children.

“I want the audience to walk away with a strong emotional effect, to know where you come from and what you believe in.”

“I want the audience to walk away with a strong emotional effect, to know where you come from and what you believe in.” Through this piece, Baird reminds us that whatever life throws at you, however complicated it may be, just hang in there. “Your situation will change, so keep going and never give up. You can be the inspiration.”

Taking inspiration from her mother, grandmothers, aunties and other strong women, powerful resilient women are main characters to Baird’s stories. “Telling me stories, showing my places, and teaching me about my culture, without these women, I probably wouldn’t be who I am today.”

Make sure to catch The Weekend on Thursday, November 16th!

More from Henrietta Baird

What piece are you looking forward to seeing at W30?
I’m not sure at the moment but I want to see as much possible.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Myself I believe that I have a certain way of telling stories and this is just the start so I would love to be a part of this festival so that I can be inspired from other Indigenous artists and storytellers.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Keep writing.

Do you have any advice for Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Yes, keep following your dreams. Never give up. Try to be a part of many performances. See as many shows as possible. Everyone is an inspiration to be sponge. Look at what you can bring to the table as you are also the inspiration for others.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
Political topics being addressed through Indigenous art is a great way to get people to understand our views.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
A way to connect to others and tell show them who we are and tell our stories. Without our Art, we have nothing. If we lose our Art – stories, songs, art works, dances, we lost who we are. That’s why it’s important to keep it going.

What is coming up next for you?
I will be performing with a group in Cairns in December. I will be working with kids and choreographing a work looking at using fire and hopefully collaborating with other Indigenous artists from Canada.

See Henrietta Baird’s The Weekend on
Friday, November 16th @ 7:30pm