All posts by Native Earth

Mimi O’Bonsawin: An intimate and honest place

“I often encourage people who want to walk the path of the artist, to look at the world through creative lenses, to use every sound, story, smell, feeling…they surround us as inspiration for art.”

After her summer tour around Turtle Island, Mimi comes to Toronto for the opening of the 32nd annual Weesageechak festival! A contemporary roots songwriter, Mimi is strongly influenced by her Indigenous and Francophone heritage. Infused with her positive energy, her music embodies the powerful scenery of Northern Ontario and the beauty of its waters.

Mimi was recently awarded the 2019 Best Pop Album at the Indigenous Music Awards for her 2017 album Connected. Some of Mimi’s career highlights include opening for Buffy Sainte-Marie, performing at Cannes, and sharing the stage with Crystal Shawanda, Francesco Yates, Tom Wilson and more. Her newest release, TRILLIUM, is a collection of acoustic songs and a compelling, intimate follow-up to her two previous works. We’re very delighted to have her join us for Weesageechak’s opening stage on November 13th!

Learn more about Mimi O’Bonsawin

Why is Weesageechak the right place to present your work?
For the past 7 years, I have been cutting my teeth and expanding my craft as a songwriter. Putting together A SHOW is something that I have always loved to do and I’m excited to share my art at Weesageechak 2019. While studying performing arts, I realized that performing as a songwriter has many similarities to acting or dance.

What kind of reaction or effect do you want your piece to have to the audience?
If someone can find a reflection in a moment of a song, I will feel fulfilled. My songs are deeply rooted in story and come from an intimate and honest place – a place of Love.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
My surroundings, my heritage, my family, my passion and my love for the earth. I often encourage people who want to walk the path of the artist, to look at the world through creative lenses to use every sound, story, smell, feeling … they surround us as inspiration for art.

Who is your role model? How do they inspire you?
Musically, many people inspire my craft. My band mates, my teachers/elders, the people I meet and share moments with – those are my true inspiration.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

What are you craving right now?
Peace, tranquility, quiet.

What is coming up next for you?
Growing, learning, and creating. I am going to be recording and composing new material, setting up more touring and continuing to find my way through art.

Wednesday November 13, 2019

< Artist Feature ListWeesageechak 32 Festival Line-Up >

2-Spirit Cabaret Call for Submissions

in partnership with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Native Earth and Buddies partner once again to bring back another exciting evening of the 2-Spirit Cabaret as part of Weesageechak Begins to Dance 32. A celebration of the strength, beauty, and talent of queer and 2-Spirit Indigenous people, the Cabaret features music, dance, drag, performance art, spoken word, poetry and comedy curated by award-winning 2-Spirit theatre artist Michaela Washburn.

Sold-out for three years in a row, the fourth edition of the Cabaret will be held on Saturday November 16, 2019 at The Chamber, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Please submit a one-page Letter of Interest describing your proposed performance piece (5-10 minutes in length) and connection to 2-Spirit and/or queer / trans experience or identity.

Please also include with your submission:

  • Name, Address, Phone number, Email address;
  • High resolution headshot in JPG, PNG or EPS format;
  • 100 word bio;
  • Your Indigenous identity and/or Nation;
  • A writing sample (up to 5 pages) or video (up to 5 minutes) for the proposed piece.

About: The 32nd annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance festival is a celebration of new works and works in development produced by Native Earth Performing Arts, Canada’s oldest professional Indigenous theatre company. Each November, Native Earth selects dance, theatre and interdisciplinary works reflecting Indigenous performing arts in Canada and internationally, and provide development support and a workshop production during the two-week festival. In order for a submission to be eligible, the primary artist(s) must identify as Indigenous.

Learn more about the 2-Spirit Cabaret here, and Weesageechak festival here.

Please submit your Letter of Interest and the required support material by mail or email:

Native Earth Performing Arts
#250 – 585 Dundas Street East
Toronto, ON
M5A 2B7

For questions related to the 2-Spirit Cabaret submission process, please call 416-531-1402.

Click here to download the PDF.

See 2-Spirit Cabaret 2018 Line-Up

Photos by Dahlia Katz

See 2-Spirit Cabaret 2017 Line-Up

Photos by Jake Jamieson

See 2-Spirit Cabaret 2016 Line-Up

Photos by Connie Tsang

Native Earth and Buddies

Header image features Michaela Washburn, photo by Tanja Tiziana

Jeanette Kotowich: How do we give thanks?

Vancouver-based Cree/Métis choreographer and dance artist Jeanette Kotowich shares her character-derived performance Eloise for the closing night of Weesageechak 31. Bringing insight to the practice of honouring traditional territory, Eloise honours the inner terrain of the body, our ties to land, and the experiences that we carry from the land we have come and the land on which we currently stand.

“It was inspired by my personal reflection of territorial acknowledgement – a self-reflection of my identity as a mixed blood person and my relationship with the two distinct landscapes I call home (Treaty 4 territory of Saskatchewan, and the Coast of British Columbia). Eloise references the many different languages of dance and the cultural practices which I have chosen to steward through my artistic career.”

The performance experience is a provocation, asking the question “How do we give thanks?” Jeanette invites the audiences to think about our personal relationship with the land and the act of territorial acknowledgement as a humble and daily practice.

The last time Jeanette attended the festival was in 2016 with her solo work Steppin’, a contemporary expression of Métis jigging, and she will return to Native Earth in February 2019 with Raven Spirit Dance’s Gathering Light.

Catch Jeanette Kotowich’s Eloise in her Turtle Island Persona Tour tonight!

More about Jeanette Kotowich

What piece are you looking forward to seeing at W31?
As much as I can! This is always my festie approach.

Who is your Indigenous role model? How do they inspire you?
Oh gosh, there are so many people who have supported my growth and development over the years, who have come into my life to mentor me in unique and invaluable ways.

To name the top few…Yvonne Chartrand, Margaret Grenier, Charles Koroneho, Starr Muranko, Michelle Olson, and Carlos Rivera. Each is steadfast in their strength, generosity, grace, and determination.

Where do you find inspiration for your creative work?
I find inspiration from looking deep inside my questions and curiosities about identity and reflecting on contemporary modes of expression that honour my ancestors.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Those who are ready to receive you, will.”

Do you have any advice for young Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Listen to your inner voice. Create from that place. Be true to that voice, and the rest will follow.

What does art mean to you?
My artistic practice is everything to me. It is not just a career choice or a way to pay rent. It is a life vocation.

What’s coming up next for you?
I am currently developing a full-length, innovative, solo performance called Valley, with the generous support of Canada Council. Collaboratively directed by Charles Koroneho and I, alongside artistic collaborators Jonathan Kim, Wayne Lavellee, and Brady Marks, Valley is an interdisciplinary expression of the journey to one’s self. It is deeply tied to kisiskâciwan, the “fast flowing” landscape of Saskatchewan. A creative returning to land, body and identity, the work unfolds out of the robust and undulating land of my grandmothers’ mothers and great-great grandfathers.

Development is taking place throughout 2018/19:

All photos by Daniel Paquet