Spotlight on Indigenous Storytelling and Reconciliation


As the New Year begins, the National Arts Centre is getting ready to showcase Indigenous storytelling and reconciliation on its stages. Here are some highlights:

I Lost My Talk World Premiere

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.

Indigenous Events To Kick Off 2016

A Tribe Called Red – January 9

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.

Rita Joe Song Project – January 13

On January 13 in the NAC Fourth Stage, the NAC is launching 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. 

Jack Charles V The Crown – January 14 to 16

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.

100 Years of Loss – January 14 to 30

From January 14 to 30 in the NAC foyer is the eye- opening exhibition 100 Years of Loss which raises awareness about the legacy of residential schools. Also on January 14, the NAC is hosting 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, which is live streamed at, is being introduced by Joe Clark.

Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation – January 28 to 30

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.

Florent Vollant – January 30

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

Moonlodge – February 12 and 13

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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