Over the past 2 months, we’ve been talking to the workshop participants, cast members, and production team on a question that foregrounds our 2017 production, šxʷʔam̓ət (home)…”What Does Reconciliation Mean To You”?
šxʷʔam̓ət (home) will be created and performed by a mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous cast, and weaves together stories based on real life and challenges us to make reconciliation real and honourable.
Through this social media campaign, “What Does Reconciliation Mean To You?”, we want to share the stories of some of our awesome team, who are bringing their own journeys into the play creation process. You can view the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – and we will be releasing more stories as we get closer and closer to opening night. We hope you too will engage with us, and bring your thoughts and feelings to šxʷʔam̓ət (home) on March 3 – 11th, 2017 at the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver.
Here is James’ story.
“My name is Kwes Kwestin. My name is a hereditary name, that can only be given and used with my family consent. My English name is James Kew. I was given my name at 6 years old.
The name was previously carried by my grandfather, and the obligation he gave me while I carry his name is to be a bridge between the industrial world and our world as Musqueam people. Over the course of my life, whenever my soul canoe has drifted or wandered, I come back to the spiritual beach that is my people, to rest. My obligation to my grandfather always gives me my sense of identity and purpose.
I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the past from my elders; also, working as an archaeologist, and an artist. One of the actions that seemed appropriate to my obligation was signing the document to bring my Nation into the BC Treaty process, as a member of our elected Council. This has turned out to be a big disappointment, because in the 20 years since then, we’ve only met with resistance from Canada.
The Kinder-Morgan decision was very disappointing to me, and I think the key to this conflict between cultures is the environment. We saw what happened at Port Hardy when a tugboat went down in 2016. The fuel carried by one tugboat couldn’t be contained, and so we are skeptical that millions of tons of bitumen flowing through the pipeline could be contained – it doesn’t sound credible to us. I think the environment is at the heart of Reconciliation for us.
For my grandparents, when the sockeye spawned, the Fraser River would be flashing silver and white from one bank to the other, upstream and downstream, as far as the eye could see. A flock of cranes might fly overhead during the day, block out the sun and turn it dark. The thunder of their wings and calls were deafening. And now, in the salmon run, you’re lucky if you can stand on the bank and see one or two swirling in the water; and there are almost no Sandhill Cranes. When we consider the possible impact of an oil spill, the consequences will last a lot longer than the industrial scientist are willing to credit, so it just boggles the mind that the Kinder-Morgan Line was approved.
The idea of Reconciliation from my perspective requires forgiveness and patience. It requires sharing, and it requires that we teach. For our neighbours, Reconciliation would mean that they understand their own history as Canadians.
Part of the forgiveness that we must exercise is to understand the colonial process, and the motives of the leaders of the colonial process. That’s something that we have in common with most Canadians; because the greatest crimes committed against our people were committed when most Canadians couldn’t vote.
The grossest crimes against humanity were committed under the British imperial system, that had a very limited franchise, and at the same time we were subject to a genocide by the British, ten-year-old children were sent down mines in Great Britain; and so, it’s important for us to understand that it wasn’t race alone that was the basis of those crimes against humanity committed against us. Those crimes against humanity were an incidental by-product of an economic opportunity.
If our community can grow in that understanding of cause and effect, it’s going to be a lot easier for us to forgive our neighbours, and to understand a current pattern of thought, whereby many Canadians don’t feel like they’ve committed any personal acts of oppression against First Nations, so they find it very difficult to accept a sense of group responsibility for crimes against humanity.
Reconciliation to me means forgiving. I think for the industrial culture it means economic opportunities. I don’t think there’s a social or human component to the Canadian idea of Reconciliation.”
šxʷʔam̓ət (home) is an audience interactive play exploring our journeys and struggles towards Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people
šxʷʔam̓ət means home in Hǝn̓q̓ǝmin̓ǝm̓, a local Indigenous dialect. This word has so many different meanings to all of us who are living on this land.
Created and performed by a mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous cast and production team, šxʷʔam̓ət (home) weaves together stories based on real life and challenges us to make reconciliation real and honourable.
True respect can’t be legislated.
There’s a conversation happening in Canada about Reconciliation and how it is manifesting action in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across this country. The City of Vancouver has officially declared that Vancouver sits on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. But what do these initiatives really mean? If we are sincere about the desire for reconciliation, what kinds of shifts in perceptions and behaviours need to take place? What is the pulse of change each of us are shaping? How do we break down the walls of colonization that surround us all? Is Reconciliation possible without respecting promises and guarantees made regarding Indigenous consent for projects on Indigenous land?
šxʷʔam̓ət (home) will invite audiences to change the patterns of behaviour inside characters who are struggling with these issues – patterns that audience members recognize inside themselves – and rehearse true reconciliation.
šxʷʔam̓ət (home) will be workshopped, created and performed by a cast of seven original and relevant voices, from a diverse range of Canadian society.
This production is in collaboration with Journeys Around the Circle Society. Directed by David Diamond, and Associate Director Renae Morriseau
CAST | Asivak Koostachin (Inuk/Cree), Madeline Terbasket (Okanagan, Ho-Cak & Anishnabe), Mutya Macatumpag, Nayden LA Palosaari (Cree), Rev. Meg Roberts*, Sam Bob* (Snaw-Naw-As/Coast Salish) and Tom Scholte*
Click HERE to buy tickets.
or call the Firehall Arts Centre 604.689.0926 — at Unceded Coast Salish Territory.