Natalie Sappier: Unveiling the Vocabulary of the Land

Following the successful run of her first play, Finding Wolastoq Voice, at the National Arts Centre, which was also in our 2017/18 season, Natalie Sappier-Samaqani Cocahq comes to Toronto to present her latest theatrical creation in development, MAW. Hailing from New Brunswick, this Wolstoqiyik artist shares a story inspired by her family, community and ancestral landscapes.

Aria Evans in Finding Wolastoq Voice. Photo by Andre Reinders

MAW is a two-spirited being who travels in different times, entering different bodies and minds to find answers and understanding of community history, upbringing and the magic of land connection. “I discovered that MAW carried an entity of more then one person and carried a spirit of many. It was more than telling a story of someone who had mixed blood.”

Following her development at the Animikiig Creators Unit, Natalie will bring MAW to Memorial Hall at the UNB Art Centre in December. But before that, catch the workshop performance on November 20th at Weesageechak Begins to Dance!

Learn more about Natalie Sappier

What inspired you to create the piece?
Writing my first play, Finding Wolastoq Voice, brought much healing into my life. I discovered a new way of sharing story. I began seeing stories in everyone and everything. I became fascinated with the magic of traveling into story with imagination and intention as I journeyed on my ancestral landscapes with Indigenous eyes and spirit. The lands hold many stories. The more I connect with it, the more I understand the importance of sharing them. MAW connects us to land, people and sky. With creating stories through MAW, it keeps my spirit open to what I feel needs to be heard and remembered.

What kind of reaction or effect do you want your piece to have to the audience?
I hope the audience will see the magic that lives in our environment and in ourselves.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
On the land. In the water. Harvesting Medicine. Listening to my Wolastoqiyik Language. My Mother’s hair.

Natalie Sappier, Teachings along the River, 2013

Who is your role model and how do they inspire you?
My mother. She is my number 1 teacher. She is my number 1 storyteller. She is my number 1 healer. Many of my stories through songs, painting and writings are inspired by her. When I sit beside her I feel like I am on a canoe floating down a river so calm that you see the sky and the water becoming one.  Her guidance keeps me grounded and her love gives me perseverance.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Take care of yourself, it is your transportation.”

What are you craving right now?

What is coming up next for you?
I am currently the Artist in Residence at the University of New Brunswick’s Arts Centre where I am focusing on creating my stories as well as I headlining the New Brunswick’s College Gala to raise funds for Indigenous Bursaries.

Wednesday November 20, 2019

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