Last Thursday night the long-awaited production of Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way, a play co-written by Renae Morrisear\, Rosemary Georgeson and Savannah Walling and directed by Morriseau opened at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre in East Vancouver/Coast Salish Territories to a circle bursting with friends and guests.
The play cum multi-media performances including storytelling, traditional and personal songs as well as drumming and games–one game in particular Slahal–features some of the finest actors from various parts of British Columbia and across the county.
Stephen Lytton, Sophie Merasty, Jonathan Fisher and Sam Bob join Delhia Nahanee, Latash Maurice Nahanee, Tai Amy Grauman, Tracey Nepinak Vern Bevis and Tania Carter in sharing life experiences and and the stories of how one Indigenous family’s healing process defines reconciliation.
Its not what some might expect if people are looking at the play to shed light on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s proposals about reconciling between First Nations and Canada. Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way (WROW)is deep and its personal. it is more about how one Indigenous family’s healing process defines reconciliation
Morisseau says this about reconciliation “As Indigenous people we have been ‘reconciling’ for a long time within our own communities and in our families. We are living with the impact that Canadian policy and legislation has had on us. It’s generational and continues today.”
And (WROW is funny. As with many communities, sometimes you just had to be part of it to get the humour but the uproar at various parts of the play hit the heart and the funny bone of every single person in the house.
And audiences in every performance since opening night have been raving.
Here are just a few early responses:
Amazing, amazing AMAZING. So SO powerful.
I felt lucky to be in the room.”
Excited to experience indigeneity in this way. Please keep up the amazing work. THIS IS CANADIAN HISTORY.”
Thank you so much for this beautiful, humorous, tragic, hopeful tapestry.
Watching the play, I believed that each story represented the lived experience of each actor. The sharing of the stories, intertwined with other stories, intertwined with past injustices, intertwined with other injustices, give light to the complexities of the process of reconciliation with Indigenous families.
Awesome play. Funny, sad – the actors are great!”
The show continues in Vancouver until May 26 with performances at 7:30 each of May 24 and 25 and one performance at 2:00 pm on May 26.
Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way travels to:
Penticton/Sylix Territory for a performance on Thursday May 31 at 7:00 pm and a Friday matinee at 12:30 pm at the En’owken Centre
Toronto/Treaty 13 on June 6-9 Wednesday through Friday 7:30 pm and Saturday manatee at 2:00 pm Aki Studio Theatre
Winnipeg/Treaty 1 and Metis Homelands June 13 -16 Wednesday through Friday 7:30 pm and Saturday matinee 2:00 pm Theatre Circle Molière
Don’t mss Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way!
Tomorrow i’ll post another piece on Les Filles du Roi (the King’s Daughters) an extraordinary musical/drama about the 800 women famously sent from France to “populate” the New World between 1663 and 1673. Staging, music and story extraordinaire.
Thanks to Rita Wong for permission to publish an early draft of the following piece. The final revised article will be published in an anthology on climate change planned for publication in the fall of 2018.
Rita Wong is a teacher, poet and water and land activist. (@rrwong)
This spring, I’ve spent many hours volunteering and keeping watch at Kwekwecnewtxw, the Coast Salish watch house set up to protect land and water from the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline (https://protecttheinlet.ca/structure/). A place of prayer and ceremony, the watch house was and is also used to watch for enemies.
Accusations of “national interest” fly through the corporate media, and recently the “we love this coast” banner at nearby Camp Cloud was defaced. Despite all the moneyed noise and roughly 200 arrests** of water protectors at the nearby entrance to the Kinder Morgan tank farm, here at this sacred space, I feel the calm and commitment that comes with a community voicing deep love for home, for each other, and even for the relatives who don’t understand or don’t care why humanity needs to stop fossil fuel expansion.
Water protectors come in waves day after day, singing songs like:
People gonna rise like the water, gonna shut this pipeline down I hear the voice of my great granddaughter, saying stop Kinder Morgan Now
Moon after moon, people keep the camps going, with sacred fires, kitchens, workshops, open houses, steady activity both mundane and magical. It’s humbling and uplifting to feel part of a much larger movement asserting connection and responsibility to land and place, remembering the limits of the earth we call home and mother.
I hold immense respect for the Tsleil Waututh community members and allies who are determined to protect mother earth, so courageous and stalwart in their love for this land. They teach us so much through their sacrifice and their honesty, generosity of spirit, and wisdom. I seek to be a good guest on these Coast Salish homelands that I have had the good fortune to live in for the past two and a half decades.
For the past two years, I along with many others have spent much time trying to protect the living Peace River from being choked and killed by the Site C dam, a third dam on this river in Treaty 8 territory (northeast BC) that has already been devastated to provide BC with electricity. Previous dams were effectively attempted genocide on the Indigenous peoples of the river, and Hydro’s recent apology for the violence and trauma rings hollow as it prepares to inflict more violence and turn the sacred, fertile Peace Valley into a sacrifice zone for a capitalist economy that knows no bounds, no humility, no respect.
The past few months in particular have been devastating because of the provincial NDP’s betrayal of its base, the everyday people, but we have continued nonetheless voicing how crucial it is to protect what is left of the free flowing Peace River, a key migration corridor for remaining wildlife and abundant in sacred sites for Treaty 8’s Indigenous people. We hold weekly actions every Friday outside BC Attorney General David Eby’s office to urge him to ensure the province acts honourably on Treaty 8.
The Peace teaches us that those who live down south owe a huge debt to the north. It also offers the possibility of a future economy based in food security (with rich farmland) and respect for land. As places in the US are decommissioning dams, it is not too late to stop the Site C dam debt bomb.
Dams like Site C, Muskrat Falls and Keeyask are examples of ongoing colonization under capitalism, a new wave of hydro colonization, that will run us to the point of mass extinction, if people allow them to be pushed through despite bankrupting and harming us, big governments, and land. They are basically examples of how colonial governments are set up to benefit large corporations at the expense of the land’s health and the well-being of those connected to the land.
The dams greenwash the short term, disconnected greed that misses the bigger picture of what truly matters in life – for example, how the natural cycles like the waxing and waning of the moon teach us a rhythm of coexistence rather than exploitation to the point of destruction.
Many current struggles are connected through valuing the health of the water, respect for land and the land’s Indigenous peoples. There are so many contradictions under capitalism, but the truth remains clear as clean drinkable water: as a species, we cannot afford either the pipeline expansion nor the mega dam if we want to become better relatives with the earth and each other.
What links mega dams and pipelines are the growing inequities that arise with mega projects at a time when community economic development models provide more participatory and just possibilities for economies that fulfill the practical needs (not fleeing desires) of our loved ones.
At the end of the day, the night teaches us that we need to rest and respect our bodies as well as the earth. When the time is right, the moon gives us just enough light to navigate the paths to the watch house and the river. Each river, each place, is special and specific. But under capitalism, everything is reduced to profit and contracts that enforce submission to the banality of evil. I’m struck by Aaron Mills/ Waabishki Ma’iingan’s essay, “What is a Treaty? On Contract and Mutual Aid,” where he states “life under contract is a zombie horror” (215)… “beneath contract’s fiction…is carefully contained violence, always threatening to irrupt the artificial peace…”
Contracts attempt to replace the intimacy of trust built through relationships, through the processes of helping one another. They turn the natural cycles of place and time into endless business 24-7, restless to the point of collapse.
So the capitalist machinery needs to wane, like the moon. It needs to follow and respect existing natural cycles instead of wrecking them.
When we have a fever, we need to rest and sleep, drink lots of liquids and slow down. That is where we are today, from a planetary perspective. Whether we can achieve such a reprieve will depend on the people on the ground, working for their ancestors and the ones yet to come, in each of the places I’ve mentioned, and many more than I can name here.
**To donate to support the legal fund, go to https://stopkmlegalfund.org/ – I am also serving on the Board of this fund with the aim of ensuring that those who are poor can equitably access legal support.
It’s finally happening!! After many years of listening, writing, visiting partnering communities and fundraising Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way is now ready to tour across Turtle Island/Canada.
And it’s starting here on Coast Salish territory at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre May 17-27, 2018.
Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way is a new play and cultural encounter that brings to life the story of Old One and his journey to reconcile with himself, his family and his community.
Woven around indigenous storytelling and cultural teachings, Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way is co-written by award-winning artists Renae Morriseau (Saulteaux Cree) with Rosemary Georgeson (Coast Salish/Sahtu Dene) and Savannah Walling (American Canadian). It is also enriched by contributions from the cast, knowledge-keepers and partnering communities.
Vancouver Moving Theatre is also so thrilled to announce the cast of Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way:
Sam Bob (Snaw-Naw-As/Coast Salish)
Stephen Lytton (Nicomen Indian Band, Nlaka’pamux First Nation)
Marge White (Huu-ay-aht First Nation)
Tai Amy Grauman (Metis/Iroquois Cree)
Jonathan Fisher (Pottawattami, Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve)
Sophie Merasty (Dene/Woodlands Cree Nations)
Latash Maurice Nahanee (Squamish Nation)
Tracey Nepinak (Cree/Peguis First Nation)
Tania Carter (Salish)
Vern Bevis (Okanagan Nation)
The cast will be joined on stage by local youth and cultural knowledge keepers from each host community on the tour. Please follow us on facebook and visit www.weaving-reconciliation-our-way.ca to find out more.