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. While Jenn has been a writer for most of her life, this is her first time bringing her work to the public.
2018 Mentors: Marjorie Chan, Heidi Strauss
Frances Koncan is a writer of mixed Anishinaabe and Slovene descent, originally from Couchiching First Nation. She has a MFA in Playwriting from the City University of New York Brooklyn College and a lot of millennial anxiety. Her plays include: zahgidiwin/love, developed at Weesageechak 29; Riot Resist Revolt Repeat, developed at Weesageechak 30; and Women of the Fur Trade, developed with support of Animikiig, which will be premiering at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre as part of their 2019-2020 season. @franceskoncan
2018 Mentors: Jessica Carmichael
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.
2018 Mentors: Dan Watson
Natalie Sappier-Samaqani Cocahq (The Water Spirit) is a Wolastoqiyik Indigenous multi-disciplinary artist from Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick. She began her art practice as a painter and designer, and is an alumnus of the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Her painting style and visual storytelling is rooted in Wolastoqiyik motifs inspired by Wabanaki Lands and teachings. It carries a symbolic movement which she calls “dancing the four directions”, representing our emotions, dance of spirit and song. Painting awakened her and deepened her curiosity of who she was as a Wolastoqiyik. Her storytelling became a healing journey. “I realized early in my painting career that I was painting not just for me, but for my ancestors. Today, as I stand in the Wolastoq waters, I am witnessing our language being lost, our lands hurting and our water crying. I feel our stories need to be heard louder than a painting can speak.”
Her first play Finding Wolastoq Voice was created in residency and with guidance of Thomas Morgan Jones, Artistic Director of Prairie Theatre Exchange and was part of Theatre New Brunswick’s 2017/18 season and Native Earth’s 2017/18 season. It was the first Wolastoqiyik play shown on New Brunswick stage, and will be part of the inaugural season of Indigenous Theatre at National Arts Centre.
This fall, Samaqani will be the first artist-in-residence at the UNB Arts Centre since Bruno Bobak in the 1960’s, where she will continue the development of her second play which will be a large collaboration with Wolastoqiyik storytellers, dancers, musicians and artists.
2018 Mentors: Thomas Morgan Jones, Aria Evans
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).
2018 Mentors: Ross Manson
Ty (Tyler J) Sloane (they/them) is a Two-Spirit Non-Binary Mixed Race (Anishinaabe / Chinese / Greek / Irish) multi-disciplinary theatre/performance artist. They aim to emphasize marginalized voices that intersect: race; fluid sexualities; trans, non-binary, and fluid gender expressions; non-monogamous relationships; and class. They’ve explored the aforementioned themes in various disciplines: photography (Light Our Bodies), visual art (Breath On One Land). Selected theatre credits include: workshop actor in Yolanda Bonnell’s Scanner (Factory Theatre); assistant directing in Lilies; Or, the Revival of a Romantic Drama (Buddies in Bad Times, lemonTree creations, Why Not Theatre). You’ll see them next in Pride Toronto’s Trans March, FSU! Stage, and later this summer at Fierté Montréal / Montréal Pride at place à la relève as a solo artist and later in the fall with The Switch Collective; Switching Queens at Summerworks Theatre Festival.
2018 Mentors: Donna-Michelle St. Bernard
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).
2018 Mentors: Jani Lauzon
DIANA BELSHAW (PROGRAM DIRECTOR)
Diana Belshaw worked across Canada as a performer, director, dramaturg, 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.