Resilience performance celebrates Indigenous new year
- Andréa Ledding | March 28, 2016
Saskatoon Public School’s “Indigenous Ensemble” performed their piece “Resilience” for the public and fellow classmates and schools on Monday March 21 at Castle Theatre. The Ensemble was founded by Donny Speidel and the show was written by Chris Scribe.
“Today also marks Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day,” noted Speidel in his opening remarks, noting that the snowfall for the day was also positive as snow means a blessing, that someone’s prayers are being answered. “Today is also a special day that as Indigenous people look forward to, we look at it as Indigenous New Year’s, it’s a brand new year, it’s a brand new time and we’re going to share some of those stories and concepts through song and dance here this morning.”
The forty-five minute production included over thirty Métis and First Nations performers from various Public Schools, including the Westmount Little Prairie Steppers (Lii Pchii Daanseur di la Prayrii) who opened with three traditional numbers, accompanied by Dallas and Phil Boyer.
“Dance is a common bond which ties us all collectively to the past, but also to the future,” noted Chandrelle Micklewright, the school teacher and step caller for the Prairie Steppers, before the dancers began their first number.
Following three traditional Métis group dances which ended with the Red River Jig, the show then told a story through dance and narrative, with multimedia visuals. With a number of traditional dances, and a grandfather figure who was telling the story, the entire production spoke of resilience through traumatic change from colonialism, including the slaughter of the buffaloes, and the imposition of the Indian Residential Schools which meant the removal of children from the communities. Almost every style of dance you would see in a traditional pow-wow was featured throughout the show, accompanied by a live drum group and flautist. At the conclusion, all the dancers gathered for one final dance, before bowing to enthusiastic applause from their young audience of fellow schoolmates.
“Resilience” was performed at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for various schools to packed houses, and then again at 7 p.m. for the wider public. They also performed at the Thursday night banquet for the Think Indigenous Conference, the preceding week. The audience is always invited to join “in sharing our oldest form of education, oral tradition” as they listen to the narrative that weaves the story together to experience the resilience of Indigenous people.