September 11 to 29: Mòshkamo Festival Kicks-off Inaugural Season of First Indigenous Theatre of its Kind at National Arts Centre

The inaugural 2019–2020 season of the world’s first national Indigenous Theatre of its kind gets underway in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre (NAC) with Mòshkamo: Indigenous Arts Rising, a unique Indigenous arts and community festival featuring exciting all-Indigenous programming in the NAC’s performance and public spaces September 11-29, 2019

The festival will take over all of the performance and public spaces of the National Arts Centre, located on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabeg territory. Mòshkamo (pronounced moosh-ka-moh) is an Algonquin word, gifted to the NAC by Elders from the nearby community of Kitigan Zibi, meaning the act of appearing out of water, inviting others to bear witness to its arrival.

Mòshkamo will involve all of the existing NAC disciplines: theatre, dance and music. The two-and-a-half week festival includes 12 concerts – including Buffy St-Marie and Susan Aglukark –four theatre productions, two dance performances, as well as artist talkbacks, artist masterclasses and story-building sessions, free noon-hour programming.

The festival will also include workshops, visual arts exhibits, free public programming and family-friendly activities, culinary events, and Indigenous arts programming for national and international artists, producers and presenters. Mòshkamo will also shine the spotlight on the culinary arts during a special gala on September 12 featuring renowned Saskatoon Chef Rich Francis and NAC Executive Chef, Kenton Leier, who will collaborate and curate a menu infused with indigenous ingredients and techniques. 

“In a season focused on themes of cultural reclamation, Mòshkamo proudly claims the Indigenous Theatre’s rightful place at the NAC and on the national stage,” said Indigenous Theatre Artistic Director Kevin Loring. “Mòshkamo sets the tone for our first season, a season filled with strong and authentic Indigenous voices.” 

“The launch of Indigenous Theatre marks the dawning of a new day at the National Arts Centre,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon. “Indigenous Theatre will shine a spotlight on extraordinary Indigenous artists from across this land, and propel Indigenous stories onto the national stage. It starts now, and we couldn’t be happier, or more proud.


Award-winning Métis-Dene playwright Marie Clements’ tender and provocative play The Unnatural and Accidental Women will be first-ever play presented by the NAC’s Indigenous Theatre. (The official premiere takes place on September 13 with previews on September 11 and 12. The production runs until September 21). Directed by the renowned New York City-based director Muriel Miguel, the play courageously demands that we never forget the continuing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada.

Opening night will also include the award-winning play Là où le sang se mêle / Where the Blood Mixes by Indigenous Theatre Artistic Director Kevin Loring (September 13-14 in French, September 16-18 in English). Winner of the 2009 Governor General’s Award for Drama, this emotionally powerful play unflinchingly brings home the pain that the residential school system caused generations of Indigenous communities. 


A sure highlight of the Mòshkamo festival will be Grand Entry ceremony from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 14. This spectacular event will feature an Algonquin-led, 3-km canoe procession along the Rideau Canal. The one-hour procession of paddlers will include members of the local Indigenous arts community and representatives from the Indigenous Theatre department, and will end with a welcome ceremony and feast at the NAC in the presence of elders and other Indigenous leaders.


The development of the first national Indigenous Theatre of its kind in the world has attracted international attention: Mòshkamo will be attended by more than 50 Indigenous and non-Indigenous performing arts from around the world, including Canada, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Sweden. The Global First Nations Network, whose goal is to establish an international touring network for Indigenous artists, will holds its meetings at the NAC on the festival’s opening weekend.


The Unnatural and Accidental Women

  • September 11-21 in the Babs Asper Theatre
  • Written by Marie Clements
  • Directed by Muriel Miguel
  • An NAC Indigenous Theatre / NAC English Theatre Co-production
  • Presented in English, featuring Coast Salish.

Award-winning Métis-Dene playwright Marie Clements’ tender and provocative The Unnatural and Accidental Women courageously demands that we never forget the continuing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada. This powerful production fearlessly walks Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, pushing us ever closer to truth and remembering.

Là où le sang se mêle / Where the Blood Mixes

  • September 13-14 in French (co-presented with Zones Théâtrales) AND September 16-18 in English In the Azrieli Studio          
  • Written by Kevin Loring
  • Translated and directed by Charles Bender
  • A Menuentakuan production in collaboration with Teesri Duniya Theatre
  • In French or English, featuring Nlaka’pamux’stn.

Kevin Loring’s Là où le sang se mêle / Where the Blood Mixes, winner of the 2009 Governor General’s Award for Drama, is an emotionally powerful play that unflinchingly brings home the pain that the residential school system caused generations of Indigenous communities. Irreverently funny and brutally honest, Where the Blood Mixes is a story of loss and redemption set in the heart of the Fraser Canyon.

Mokatek and the Missing Star (Mokatek et l’étoile disparue)

  • September 13-14 in Le Salon
  • By Dave Jenniss
  • Music by Élise Boucher-DeGonzague
  • Directed by Pier Rodier
  • A coproduction by Vox Théâtre (Ottawa) and Productions Ondinnok (Montréal)
  • Co-presented with Zones Théâtrales
  • Presented in French, featuring Anishinaabemowin with chants in Abenaki.

Remembering his mother each night before he sleeps, young Mokatek recounts his day to the brightest star in the sky, the North Star. But one night, under the full moon of the summer solstice, Mokatek realizes that the star has disappeared. So begins a journey that will test his courage and strength with every step. Along the way, Mokatek is guided by the spirits of sounds and animals that move him ever closer to his own origins and the land. Combining puppetry, songs and dance, Mokatek and the Missing Star will awaken you to the beauty and wealth of Indigenous languages.

Buffy Sainte-Marie

  • September 15 in Southam Hall
  • Presented in collaboration with NAC Presents in partnership with BMO Financial Group

Buffy Sainte-Marie continues to create songs that reveal distinct shades of an artist already revered as a pioneer. Winner of countless awards, Buffy’s songs weave the human narratives left out of the history books.

Susan Aglukark and the NAC Orchestra (Conductor Mélanie Léonard)

  • September 20 in Southam Hall
  • Presented in collaboration with the NAC Orchestra and NAC Presents

Discover the vibrant and beautiful culture of the North through storytelling and throat-singing with JUNO

Award-winning Inuk singer-songwriter, activist and recording artist Susan Aglukark and friends.

Finding Wolastoq Voice

  • September 21-23 in the Azrieli Studio
  • By Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier)
  • A Theatre New Brunswick production in association with Prairie Theatre Exchange
  • Presented in English, featuring Wolastoqiyik.

Finding Wolastoq Voice is a powerful debut work from Indigenous artist-turned-playwright Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier) of Tobique First Nation, a leading voice in New Brunswick’s thriving Indigenous art scene. Featuring the evocative choreography of dancer Aria Evans, this beautiful dance-theatre hybrid is the deeply personal coming-of-age story of a young Wolastoqiyik woman who is awakened by the voices of her ancestors. Evans draws on her experiences as a woman of mixed race (Mi’kmaq/Black/British) to beautifully convey feelings of sorrow, grace, and hope. Andy Moro has created an organic, natural world that shifts and moves seamlessly, providing the foundation for this inspiring work.


  • September 26-28 in the Azrieli Studio
  • Created by Dancers of Damelahamid
  • World Premiere co-presented with NAC Indigenous Theatre and NAC Dance and developed with support from the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund
  • Co-producers The CanDance Network Creation Fund, National Arts Centre, The Vancouver East Cultural Centre (The Cultch), DanceWorks, Neighbourhood Dance Works with support from the Canada Council for the Arts
  • The production of this work was supported by Dance Victoria’s Chrystal Dance Prize

The Dancers of Damelahamid are an Indigenous dance company from the Northwest coast of British Columbia. Their rich history of masked dance celebrates the diversity of the many Indigenous cultures of Canada.  Weaving together narrative, song, movement, and new multimedia, Mînowin unites the foundational values of reciprocity of Northwest Coastal cultures with contemporary dance to illuminate the process of finding direction. Inspired by the organic moments that arise when we connect with one another, Mînowin links Northwest coastal landscapes with contemporary views of Indigenous dance, shining a light on the moments of connection and understanding that lead us ultimately to renewal.


Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra are presenting three programs under the Mòshkamo banner, each one celebrating remarkable Indigenous composers and musicians.

Croall’s Zasakwaa features works by three Indigenous composers – Andrew Balfour, Ian Cusson and Barbara Croall (September 19). The concert will mark the world premiere of Ian Cusson’s Dodo, mon tout petit for soprano and orchestra, co-commissioned by the NAC and the Canadian Opera Company, the piece. Iconic Indigenous actor Tom Jackson, recipient of the 2018 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, takes the stage on this concert to narrate the tale of Peer Gynt, with Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra performing Grieg’s sweeping, beautiful incidental music to the Ibsen play.

Ian Cusson has a major orchestral work slated for a world premiere in the festival (September 27). Co-commissioned by the NAC and the Canada Council for the Arts as part of the Carrefour Composer Program, Le loup de Lafontaine is a multi-movement tone poem for orchestra, based on a story – part legend, part history from Cusson’s own family Metis background – of a menacing wolf that terrorized the Great Lakes community of Lafontaine at the turn of the 20th century.

JUNO Award-Winning Inuk recording artist Susan Aglukark and the NAC Orchestra will take the audience on an epic musical journey through the North with a concert that blends storytelling, throat singing and orchestral music (September 20).

And Singer-songwriters Twin Flames join the Orchestra in a subsequent weekend performance tailored to children and families – Northern Adventures with Susan Aglukark (September 21-22).


Visit for complete listing of performances for the National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Theatre and the Mòshkamo festival. 

Tickets for Indigenous Theatre are on sale now. Select four or more performances and save 15%.

For additional information, visit the NAC website at Follow our journey at and celebrate with us by tagging #NACIndigenous/#CNAutochtone


The inaugural season of Indigenous Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre is made possible through

the support of many generous individuals and organizations from across the country. The National Arts Centre Foundation wishes to acknowledge the leadership support of Shirley Greenberg, C.M., OOnt, the late Dr. Paul and Mrs. Elsje Mandl, Frank and Debbi Sobey, and an Anonymous Donor. Thank you to Season Sponsor BMO Financial Group, Major Partner The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Supporting Partner, Bell Let’s Talk, Hotel Partner The Embassy Hotel and Suites, Official Rail Partner VIA Rail, and The Printing House. We are also very thankful to Mòshkamo Presenting Sponsor Facebook Canada. We also express our sincere gratitude to the Government of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts for their longstanding support of the NAC and the arts in Canada.


Since opening its doors on June 2 1969, the National Arts Centre has acted as a national, bilingual and multidisciplinary performing arts centre, located in the nation’s capital, on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Nation. In its first year, the NAC presented The Ecstasy of Rita Joe by George Ryga, a play that was groundbreaking because it reflected an Indigenous experience. Since then, the NAC has continued to feature Indigenous artists and productions on its stages.

The idea of establishing a national Indigenous Theatre department arose in recent years. The need has become ever more urgent, as the Indigenous community has asserted that creating Indigenous works without the full involvement of Indigenous voices and actors, playwrights and directors is no longer acceptable. Consultations with Indigenous artists and leaders led to establishing an advisory committee involving recognized Indigenous artists, youth and Elders and NAC representatives. Stakeholders identified the need to create a permanent national stage for Indigenous stories at the NAC on an equal level with the already-existing English and French Theatres.

As part of the celebrations of its 50th anniversary in 2019, the NAC is acknowledging its longstanding commitment to Indigenous artists and their work with the launch of the first national Indigenous Theatre in the world. The first season will commence in September 2019, bringing the artistic stories, vision and experience of Indigenous Peoples to the forefront.


The National Arts Centre raised its curtains for the first time in 1969. A bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for Canada’s most creative artists, the NAC strives to be artistically adventurous in each of its programming streams — the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre and NAC Presents. Accessible and welcoming to all, the NAC offers a variety of free programming and events. The NAC’s national role is reflected in its motto: “Canada is our Stage.” The Centre collaborates with artists and arts organizations across the country, acts as a catalyst for performance excellence; invests in ambitious new works by artists and arts organizations nation-wide; and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada.





Carl Martin  
Senior Advisor, Communications
National Arts Centre  
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Amy Ede
Marketing/Communications Officer
NAC Indigenous Theatre
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Annabelle Cloutier
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
National Arts Centre 
613 947-7000 x260                                

Andrea Ruttan
Communications Officer
National Arts Centre
613-947-7000 x396                            


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