National Arts Centre to Shine the Spotlight on Indigenous Storytelling and Reconciliation

The National Arts Centre (NAC) will showcase Indigenous storytelling and reconciliation on its stages in the New Year. In the context of recent news events –  from the recent publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report, to the Government of Canada’s renewed focus on Indigenous issues – the NAC is presenting a series of multidisciplinary events that will inspire, entertain and inform audiences.

The story of Indigenous People in Canada is the longest, most dramatic saga in our history, and it continues today. The NAC has been sharing this story with audiences since it opened in 1969. And through its artistic co-productions, presentations and youth programs, the NAC strives to support Indigenous artists and young people to find their voices, share their stories, and showcase their talents.


One of the highlights of the NAC’s Indigenous showcase will be the January 14-15 world premiere of I Lost My Talk, composed by John Estacio and performed in Southam Hall by the NAC Orchestra under the direction of NAC Music Director Alexander Shelley. This immersive, multidisciplinary work – based on the poem by Mi'kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe – was commissioned for the NAC Orchestra to commemorate the 75th birthday of The Right Honourable Joe Clark by his family.

Rita Joe penned her poem to express not only the pain and suffering of her experience at Schubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia, but also her hope and conviction that her voice could guide and inspire indigenous and non-indigenous peoples across Canada to journey to a place of strength and healing. Moved by Rita Joe’s message of peaceful reconciliation, Alexander Shelley and Creative Producer and Director Donna Feore conceived of the idea to share Joe’s powerful message in a unique symphonic experience that combines music, motion and film.

The performance will include a film by world-renowned director Barbara Willis Sweete, featuring 10 First Nations dancers moving to choreography created by Santee Smith of the Kahnyen’kehàka Nation, Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario.

Shot on the majestic shores of Georgian Bay, Ontario, this beautifully rendered film will be projected on to screens surrounding the orchestra, designed and operated by the exceptionally talented visual design team of Turbine Studios from Montreal. The poem will be narrated by Guna and Rappahannock actor Monique Mojica as the NAC Orchestra performs Estacio’s lush and moving score.


Kicking off the New Year on January 9 in the NAC foyer, NAC Presents will showcase the incredible A Tribe Called Red as part of its fifth anniversary bash. The band – whose music is the soundtrack to a contemporary evolution of the pow wow – has become the face of an urban Indigenous youth renaissance, championing their heritage and speaking out on Indigenous issues, while being on top of popular music, fashion and art.

On January 13 in the NAC Fourth Stage, the NAC will launch the Rita Joe Song Project, a dynamic music initiative featuring young Indigenous youth from across Canada recording and performing unique songs inspired by Rita Joe poems. 

Opening on January 14 and running until January 16 in the NAC Studio is English Theatre’s presentation of Jack Charles V The Crown, a highly entertaining autobiographical presentation from Australian living legend Jack Charles, whose experience as a stolen child echoes the plight of Canada’s own Indigenous people.

From January 14 to 30 in the NAC foyer will be the eye- opening exhibition 100 Years of Loss which raises awareness about the legacy of residential schools. Also on January 14, the NAC will host a timely panel discussion in the Panorama Room on art in the context of reconciliation moderated by Dr. Marie Wilson, Commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and featuring panelists Rachael Maza, acclaimed Australian theatre director of Jack Charles V The Crown, Joseph Boyden, author of the award-winning novels Three Day Road and The Orenda, and composer John Estacio. The panel discussion will be introduced by Joe Clark. The event will be live streamed at

From January 28 to 30 in Southam Hall, NAC Dance presents Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation, a new commission by Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet choreographed by Mark Godden in a story written by author Joseph Boyden. This powerfully emotional ballet tells the love story of Annie and Gordon, a pair of contemporary Aboriginal young people coming to terms with a soul-destroying past.

On January 30, NAC Presents will bring to the Fourth Stage Innu author, composer and singer Florent Vollant, formely of Kashtin, the beloved musical duo which performed all over the world.

Finally, on February 12 and 13, NAC English Theatre brings to the Fourth Stage Moonlodge, a classic of Indigenous Canadian theatre by playwright Margo Kane, in preparation for a major revival. This presentation is directed by 2014/15 NAC Artist in residence Corey Payette and features 2015/16 NAC Ensemble member Paula-Jean Prudat.

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Rosemary Thompson,
Director, Communications and Public Affairs
National Arts Centre
613 947-7000 x260

Carl Martin
Senior Advisor, Communications
National Arts Centre
613 947-7000 x560

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