Jess Fleming Heads West

Thanks to Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program Jessica Lea Fleming is spending this winter in Vancouver, British Columbia training in artistic producing & programming at Full Circle: First Nations Performance.

I’m off to a blazing start here at Full Circle: First Nations Performance, working with mentors Margo Kane (Cree-Saulteaux) and Tanja Dixon-Warren. As is usually the case with festival work, there are many pieces to pull together for the 16th annual Talking Stick Festival, February 18 – 28, 2016 here on Coast Salish territory! Luckily, we are on track (phew!) and I look forward to spending 10 days with friends and artists from across Turtle Island.

Jess West 2
Jessica Lea Fleming and the team at Full Circle (counter clockwise top left, Margo Kane, JLF, Kwasuun Sarah-Veden, Dannielle Piper, Duane Grant)

My primary focus as Associate Artistic Producer and Programmer has been on planning, promoting and executing the Iyá7yulh Industry Series with Margo and a fabulous team of curators and advisors. Iyá7yulh (“Ee-ya-chote-yo-lh”), translates to “get aboard our canoe”, and this year includes galas, shows, workshops, conversations and events. It’s an exciting and ambitious program, to say the least, with canoe teachings focused on “pulling together” imbued throughout each day.

Jess West 5
“A little mood lighting… #night #sky #magic #vancouver” @jessflamingo on Instagram

One of the most rewarding parts about my work so far at Full Circle is the inclusion of Indigenous traditions and protocol in the everyday. We recently welcomed friends and colleagues from Australia’s ILBIJERRI Theatre (currently touring Jack Charles V. the Crown). As hosts, we invited the Australian delegation for a gathering and blanketing ceremony to celebrate our guests, and ensure their safe journey home. I was honoured to assist Elder Sahplek Bob Baker (Squamish) in the ceremony and have been carrying the teachings with me.

Jess West 6
On tour with HUFF, Artistic Director Ryan Cunningham catches up with Jess at Full Circle

In just one month I have eaten a delicious array of udon noodles, hiked X̱wáýx̱way (Stanley Park), and dropped in on some next-level yoga sessions. I have also gained new skills and knowledge I look forward to sharing with my NEPA family. I just hope by the time I get back I haven’t forgotten how to hustle the 4-1-6 like a pro, and that my desk hasn’t been ransacked for post-its, “good” pens, and most importantly, my keyboard (I’m looking at you, Mr. Cunningham).

Big hugs from the West Coast,


Jessica Lea Fleming is the Weesageechak Festival Producer for Native Earth Performing Arts.

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline except performance. This program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.