October 17, 2017 – OTTAWA (Canada) – The National Arts Centre mourns the loss of Cathy Elliott, a gifted artist and a proud member of the Sipekne'katik Mi'kmaq First Nation. The Dora Mavor Moore Award-nominated actor, playwright and composer recently appeared on the NAC stage last season as Rita in the highly acclaimed production of Children of God by Corey Payette.

“I am completely shocked at Cathy’s sudden and tragic passing,” said Kevin Loring, Artistic Director of NAC Indigenous Theatre. “Cathy was such a joy to work with as an actor on the musical Children of God. She was a bright light in the rehearsal room and a gentle and generous soul who cared deeply about sharing Indigenous stories. Cathy was a gifted and experienced musician, writer and theatre artist. For three decades Cathy had worked her craft, but Children of God marked the first time she had played at the National Arts Centre. I was so looking forward to working with her more as we build this new Indigenous Theatre here at the NAC. Now I’ll never get that chance. I send my deepest condolences to her family and friends, and the many colleagues she encountered over her long career who had the pleasure of working with her.  She will be dearly missed by all who knew her.”

Cathy had a passion for singing and making music, and her belief in the healing power of song was evident in her work.  Red Barn Theatre premiered her musical Fireweeds in 1993. In 2011, she directed her all-Indigenous musical, The Talking Stick, commissioned by the Charlottetown Festival. Its finale was performed for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s PEI visit, and a concert version was presented at the 2011 Halifax Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Gathering. She appeared as Sharon Sharpe in her one-woman musical Moving Day (Talk is Free Theatre), and as Ariel in The Tempest (New World Theatre Project).  Another of her musicals, Lonecloud, was under development with Native Earth Performing Arts for Weesagechak 30, Native Earth’s annual festival of Indigenous works. Lonecloud is about Jerry Lonecloud, a Mi'kmaw medicine man from Nova Scotia who performed in the Wild West Shows, and who preserved a great deal of Mi'kmaw knowledge. In addition, just last week Cathy premiered a workshop production (with music and lyrics by Leslie Arden) for Starlight Tours with Sheridan College and commissioned by the Grand Theatre. Cathy Elliott also wrote the screenplay for a documentary called Fill my Hollow Bones.  

The NAC sends its condolences to her family. The NAC’s flags will be at half-staff for three days in honour of Cathy Elliott.



Mary Gordon
National Editor
National Arts Centre
613-947-7000, ext. 849

Join our email list for the latest updates!