Jenn Forgie recently returned to her home province of Ontario after many years living on the West Coast, to reconnect with the arts community and to continue her personal journey to deepen her connection with her Métis and French Canadian roots. Her passion, in her work as an artist and personal life, is to explore our collective and individual experiences around the issues of belonging, identity, and community.
She is proud to be one of the 8 women artists in Aluna Theatre’s upcoming production of The Solitudes under the visionary direction of Bea Pizano. While Jenn has been a writer for most of her life, this is her first time bringing her work to the public.
Marsi and Chi Miigwetch to Native Earth’s Animikiig Creators Unit leaders for this incredible opportunity and very special thanks to Marjorie Chan for her mentorship!
Frances Koncan is an Anishinaabe writer and director from Couchiching First Nation. She holds a MFA in Playwrighting from the City University of New York – Brooklyn College. She is the recent winner of 2017 Winnipeg Arts Council RBC On the Rise award. Her play, zahgidiwin/love was developed at Weesageechak 29 and went on to win the 2016 Harry Rintoul Award for Best Play at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Her most recent play Riot Resist Revolt Repeat was developed at Weesageechak 30.
Smith Purdy is a performer and writer from the Kespu’kwitk district of Mi’Kmaq territory. Their artwork reflects their unique perspective as a Two-Spirited person with autism, looking at familiar subjects from unexpected angles. Lately, Smith has been thinking a lot about insects.
Natalie Sappier-Samaqani Cocahq (The Water Spirit) is a Wolastoqiyik Indigenous multidisciplinary artist from Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick. She began her art practice as a painter and designer, painting with style of storytelling that is rooted from Wolastoqiyik motifs. She is inspired by Wabanaki Lands and teachings, a symbolic movement she calls “dancing the four directions” which represent emotions, dance, spirit and song.
Painting and storytelling keeps her close to her Indigenous ways of being, keeping her awake and learning. She realized early in her painting career that she was not painting just for herself, but for her people – I was painting for her ancestors.
Today as she stands in the Wolastoq waters, she is witnessing our language being lost, our lands in pain, and our water crying. She feels that our stories need to be heard louder than a painting can speak. She began her path to open her spirit to learn courage to share her songs, and strength within her voice and words to share stories expressed with Indigenous heart for our people to hear and to others to learn – through our voice, through our movement from our spirit.
Olivia Shortt is a Toronto-based saxophonist (Anishinaabe-Irish) from Nipissing First Nation. She has performed with Polaris Prize winner Tanya Tagaq as a member of the Element Choir, opened for Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld in the Dialectica Saxophone Quartet, and recorded Robert Lemay’s Fragments Noirs with her duo Stereoscope two kilometres underground in a Neutrino Lab (SnoLab).
Ty (Tyler J) Sloane is a mixed race (Ojibwe/East Asian/Irish/Iberian) and Queer (Two-Spirit/Non-Binary) multidisciplinary artist. Ty has a focus in performance art as well as theatre having previously participated in Pride Toronto festival stages for political public performances and the Burlesque stage, in the Paprika Festival as a director (Witness of Obsession and Desire), as an actor at Factory Theatre (Scanner), and is presently working with the Switch Project Residency through Buddies in Bad Times Theatre which focuses on political performance.
As an artist, Ty continues to unpack many intersectionalities within their community and identity, and further develop their own understanding and journey on how identity and live performance intersect and marry. Ty’s grateful for the various support from Native Earth, the community, friends, and most importantly their mum. Miigwetch.
Quelemia Sparrow is an actor, writer, and director from the Musqueam Nation. She graduated from Studio 58’s Acting program and the Langara Film Arts program in Screenwriting.
Some of Quelemia’s acting theatre credits include: The Bakkhai (Stratford Festival); The Komagata Maru Incident (Stratford Festival); The Snow Queen (Globe Theatre); Our Town (Osimous Theatre); The Edward Curtis Project (GCTC/NAC); The Penelopiad (Arts Club); August: Osage County (Arts Club); Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout (Firehall Arts Centre); Where the Blood Mixes (Playhouse/WCT). Various film and television credits include: Clouds of Autumn; Fringe; V; Sanctuary 2; Blackstone; Unnatural and Accidental; Da Vinci’s City Hall; Dead Zone, and Da Vinci’s Inquest for which she won a Leo Award for Best Female Guest Appearance.
Writing credits include: A podplay for Neworld Theatre and Raven Spirit Dance called Ashes on the Water; Salmon Girl (Raven Spirit Dance); Women in Papiyek (Full Circle Theatre); The Pipeline Project (Itsazoo and Savage Society); O’wet/Lost Lagoon (Alley Theatre).
DIANA BELSHAW (PROGRAM DIRECTOR)
Diana Belshaw worked across Canada as a performer, director, dramaturge, and educator for over 40 years; recently Mieko Ouchi’s Burning Mom (fu-GEN) and The Unplugging (Factory Theatre). She spent 18 years developing the intercultural acting program at Humber College, known for development of artist/creators. She has received both a Harold Award and the Maggie Bassett Award from Theatre Ontario.