As Canada marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th, the RCA is reflecting on how we acknowledge our presence on unceded Syilx territory. We advocate every day for an environment that values and supports Indigenous culture and Indigenous artists. From art workshops led by Indigenous painters to contemporary Indigenous dance, we are proud to host events that elevate the voices of Indigenous peoples.
On Saturday, October 8th The Dancers of Damelahamid’s Mînowin comes to the Mary Irwin Theatre, bringing Indigenous Dance to the Kelowna community. Mînowin illuminates the process of finding direction and explores understandings of organic moments that arise when we connect with one another, balancing movement, song, and new multimedia design to reflect on Indigenous identity. The Dancers of Damelahamid performance draws from origin stories, immersing audiences in a narrative that illustrates moments of connection, understanding, and renewal through a contemporary lens. Mînowin has toured with the prestigious Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato, Mexico, and we are excited to welcome the show to our Theatre. Tickets are available now, including at a reduced rate for Indigenous peoples.
Mînowin. Photo by Anna Springate-Floch.
In June, National Indigenous History Month, the RCA hosted the first in-person 94 Calls to Action reading circle since the pandemic. The 94 Calls to Action are policy recommendations written by The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in an effort to acknowledge the full history of the residential school system and outline ways these horrible acts can be prevented in the future. Each participant in the reading circle had the opportunity to pause and reflect throughout the evening, serving as an invitation to everyone to listen to the voices of Indigenous people.
As 2022 Pianos in Parks Ambassadors, the RCA is proud to highlight the piano previously outside our space painted by First Nation artists Coralee Miller of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and Barb Dawson of the Tlinget Nation. Having taught a paint-along workshop on the creation of traditional Pithouise paintings and creating the mural found at the end of our Alex Fong Galleria, Coralee Miller is no stranger to the RCA. Pianos in Parks brought the beauty of music to the streets of downtown Kelowna. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and played us a tune!
In June 2022, we welcomed Body Extended to the Mary Irwin Theatre - a dance performance showcase featuring original interdisciplinary works from performers Emmalena Fredriksson and Jessica McMann. Jessica McMann is an artist based in Cochrane, Alberta. Originally from Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan, she was part of the Sixties Scoop - when Indigenous children in Canada were taken, or "scooped," from their families and placed in foster homes, to then be adopted by white families. Her piece in Body Extended, iihksiisiinatsiistostiimao nipaitapiitsiin (Blackfoot title roughly translating to They Have Made a Mess of My Life), was a piece exploring the challenges of being an adoptee living in a land that isn’t her traditional homelands. The piece presented viewers with a challenging question; because of the cultural suppression of Indigenous language, how do we reconnect, or do we ever reconnect, to the land? A timely question as we reflect on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Jessica McMann in Body Extended.
It is these initiatives and more that make the RCA proud of the work being done to showcase Indigenous arts and culture in our community. The RCA takes pride in bringing diverse programming for everyone, and we cannot thank our community enough for it’s continued support.