Q & A: Algonquin Elder Annie Smith St-Georges and Metis André-Robert St-Georges

Prelude thepeople winter2016
Annie Smith St-Georges and André-Robert St-Georges © Luther Caverly – lutherphoto.com

Q. You’ve been welcoming NAC English Theatre audiences to traditional Algonquin Nation Territory since last season. How do you go about this?

A. On opening nights, before the play begins, we greet people with a message of peace in a way that acknowledges our presence together on Indigenous land.

Q. Few Canadians realize that Canada’s capital is on Algonquin Territory.

A. Throughout history, even before Europeans came here, this area was where Indigenous people would gather in the summer to feast, exchange goods, create arts and crafts, and dance in pow-wows.

Q. So this has always been an artistic place?

A. Absolutely.

Q. How did you fi rst get involved in the arts?

A. One day, in 1990 after our teenage son Yanik ended his life, (Annie) had a vision of a glass teepee, 10 storeys high, in Ottawa. It was to be the home for a National Aboriginal Arts and Performance Centre. For 10 years we promoted this project in memory of our son and for all the young Indigenous men and women struggling to find meaning in life.

Q. What happened to the project?

A. It never materialized, but our journey raised much positive awareness about Indigenous culture.

Q. And now Annie is an elder at the NAC. How does it feel?

A. It’s an honour because the NAC is at the core of Canadian culture.

Prélude magazine – The People
Winter issue, 2016

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