Des Royaux Park, corner of Larivière and De Lorimier, Montreal, Quebec
  • soleil-launiere-cr-lucile-parry-canet
    Featuring Soleil Launière

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Soleil Launière intertwines notions of two-spirit body while drawing inspiration from cosmogony and the Innu world. Working with memory holder Étoile du matin, Napatat honours sacred connections through roots, a performance piece creating a medicine path as a healing process through earth and souls.

Artist’s statement: Soleil Launière

Napatat honours sacred connections through roots. Memory holder Étoile du matin of the Deer Clan shares their relationship to the street, their connection to plants, and the experience of reconnecting with their Cree family. 

Through these sacred plants, they continue to nurture their connection to their late father. 

After meeting in their balcony garden, I wanted to return to the place where they met their father. This was the only time they saw him in their lifetime. I wanted to place potatoes there, to create a medicine path. This performance piece is intended as a healing process through earth and souls.


Story transcript

I spend a lot of time with my plants. And I find it interesting, in the city, to spend so much time with my plants. It’s about my connection to the land, in a way. And also my connection with my father. Because I hardly knew my father. He spent most of his life in Waskaganish, on the Rupert River. He liked to grow things, especially potatoes. And I now realize that they were plants for food, but also sacred plants. And here I am sitting beside my sweetgrass, and it smells good, so…

Maybe I could tell you about the time my father came to Montréal to meet me. That was a long time ago. I was already an adult, and I was going through a tough time: for several months I’d been homeless, I had nowhere to live. And I was hanging out on a particular street corner where I’d built new relationships with some street people. And… for awhile, I was really deeply… with… My relationships were often more toxic than positive with various substances.

I grew up with my mother. My mother is White. I grew up in a White family. And my father, uh… for various reasons, my mother didn’t introduce me to my father until I was an adult. Specifically, until the time I was in so much pain.

And then one day they showed up on a street corner, the corner of De Lorimier and Larivière, in a neighbourhood called Centre-Sud (Centre South). But all the sex workers call it “Centre-Suce” (“Centre Sucks”). It’s a neighbourhood I really like because it’s a working class neighbourhood, it’s the neighbourhood where I raised my eldest child. It’s a neighbourhood where… I went through a lot of stuff, but… uhh… I’ll always be grateful to my mother for bringing my father that time, because it was the first and last time I met him in person. 

And after that meeting, I spent even more time on the streets. I had all kinds of experiences. But years later, at a certain point, uhh… when things had settled down a bit, I started up a correspondence with my father, and through that correspondence—old school, in writing—I learned a lot about my father. 

And after that, in 2013, he died, and his whole family invited me to come to his home territory. So basically it was as if… uhh… That’s it.

After our meeting in the heart of downtown Montréal, after that, it brought me back years later, nearly a decade later, my children and I, we went to Waskaganish.

I was welcomed by a big clan, a very large family. I realized I had a lot, a lot of nephews and nieces, that there was a lot of love. And… there were people there who knew who I was, there were others who didn’t, but ever since then… I’ve gained a really big family, a lot of relatives. 

And in fact, it’s with one of those cousins that many years later, again, in Montréal, but in the southwest part of the city, we plucked together. It was my first time plucking a goose. It was really cool, and… well, I’m just really grateful. It was one of those moments where you’re constantly shifting between maintaining your dignity when you’re often exposed in public, when you have no stable place to live, and between a kind of pride: “I’m surviving, and I’m doing what I have to to survive, so get out of here with your judgments.”

But at the same time, within myself, I definitely also was being a little judgmental, or maybe… Uhh... Meeting my father for the first time in those circumstances, it stayed with me for a very long time. It stayed with me until I attended his [funeral] service. And at the service there was a man who gave a eulogy. It was so beautiful. He had had quite a rough life, uhh... of substance abuse, and my father really supported him and never judged him. He took him along with him on the trap line, he shared his skills and knowledge with him. And that’s when I knew that when my father met me, finally, he never judged me, and… he loved me just as I was; he was just thankful I was there. But at the time, I wasn’t in a great place, and I was a little resentful of my mother for not having asked my permission. But in hindsight—and I’ve told her this—I’m really glad my mother made that move, because after that, the next time, it was to go… with my sister, one of my sisters, to put on the moccasins for the last trip to the Gateway to the West.

Sometimes in life you find yourself in a situation you don’t understand, or you wish things were going differently, and finally: thank goodness that’s over! So I’m very grateful for all that. And I find that now, nearly a decade after my father’s death, in those ten years I’ve grown a lot. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve re-read the letters my father wrote me because... They were given to me—returned to me, actually, they were returned to me when my father’s possessions were distributed. So yeah, that’s it. Uhh... It’s really fascinating.



Production AUEN presents Napatat
A performance piece by Soleil Launière 
Based on a memory from Étoile du matin of the Deer Clan 
Directed and edited by Antoine Amnotte-Dupuis 

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