The kick-off for the National Arts Centre’s new Indigenous Theatre is the high point of a years-long transformation of the NAC into a welcoming space for Indigenous peoples, particularly the Algonquin Anishnabeg on whose unceded territory the NAC is located.
In 2016, the NAC reached out to the leaders representing members of the 11 Algonquin communities to create an Advisory Council. The 12-member Council, which meets four times a year, is comprised of Algonquin community members and NAC employees. The group’s goals are to better communicate with the Anishnabeg and ensure they can fully participate in the life of the NAC, and to make it a place where all Indigenous peoples feel at home. The Council also guides the NAC on important Indigenous conventions and ceremony, as well as the proper use of language.
Sarah Garton Stanley, the Associate Director of NAC English Theatre who helped create the Council, says the initiative reflects the NAC’s commitment to be “a diplomatic art house, a meeting place between nations.”