Archives for 2011
How much do you know about Canada’s residential schools – the government’s forceful removal of Aboriginal children from their families? The Métis Women’s Circle commissioned an original script be written to raise awareness of these unspoken histories. The result was Gookum’s Purse.
In the stage production, Native Arts students worked with Elders to blend traditional storytelling with contemporary urban teen life. New Horizons for Seniors and the Trillium Foundation funded the performance depicting the story of one Anishinaabe girl’s life journey suffering abuse and hardships in these church run facilities.
The audience was enveloped in the sounds of aboriginal drums, rattles, and voices from nature, as the lead character is taken from her family and sent to a prairie residential school. Later, with her own small children in tow, she makes her home in Hamilton where she grows into an old “Gookum”, a grandmother who reclaims her traditional culture and shares her wisdom and teachings with local teenagers in Gage Park.
Along with offering an authentic historical perspective, the play served as a showcase for students’ talents and skills. Youth worked tirelessly to rehearse new drum songs. They not only gained acting experience, but more importantly learned to build community in learning and working together.
Audience members found the play moving and visually beautiful in soundscape and lighting. They expressed gratitude for this insight into Aboriginal history, language and culture. One recurring comment was, “I never learned about this in history classes. I didn’t know about this part of Canadian history.” In the traditional way, performances were followed by all staff, crew and their families sharing in a feast to celebrate their new theatrical experience.