Indigenous Contemporary Scene, produced by Onishka Productions, is bringing a variety of live-arts and discussions to the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Book Festival this August to amplify the voices of Indigenous artists in Canada and highlight the conversation around what it means to be Indigenous today. The programming also serves as an artist led response to the 2019 UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages, of which Onishka is a partner, and International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on the 9th August.
Indigenous Contemporary Scene Scotland takes place over a period of nearly two years running from July 2019 to September 2020, offering unique spaces for creative exchange between artists of different nations, inciting new collaborations with Scottish artists, and contributing to the greater recognition of Indigenous voices internationally. Emilie Monnet, Artistic Director of ICS and Jean Cameron, the programme’s Scottish Creative Producer and a leading cultural producer in Scotland (Project Director for Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture in 2021, International Producer for the Cultural Programme for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow), are working with a range of Scottish and Indigenous Canadian artists, performers and writers to showcase their rich and diverse voices and draw upon Canada and Scotland’s shared history (with 15% of the Canadian population claiming full or partial Scottish decent).
The 2016 Canadian Census estimates over 1.5 million Indigenous peoples in Canada, equating to 5% of the country’s total population. Indigenous Contemporary Scene gives weight to the Indigenous Canadians whose stories and cultures have been hidden for decades and highlights the wider conversations around reconciliation, repatriation and the complexities of indigeneity and shared history.
In the lead up to August, Indigenous Contemporary Scene Scotland (supported by the British Council) is hosting Creators Exchange On The Land, taking place on the Isle of Arran between 23-28 July. The Creators Exchange On The Land will bring together a group of Indigenous creators and language keepers from Turtle Island with their Scottish and Gaelic counterparts. As is customary within Indigenous practice, acknowledging the land is the first step when arriving on a new territory, it is a chance to pay respect to the past and present custodians of the land and state your intentions as a guest. Before arriving in Edinburgh, the creators will engage in creative dialogue about protocols and the interconnections between land, language and song, over a five day exchange on the Isle of Arran.
Émilie Monnet, Artistic Director of Onishka Productions and Indigenous Contemporary Scene, said: “The programme offers a unique creative opportunity for Scottish and Indigenous artists, performers and writers from Turtle Island, the Indigenous name for Canada and North America, to collaborate with one another, t0 share their distinct cultural knowledge and to offer representative perspectives on today’s world and the issues Indigenous peoples are facing.”
Winner of the 2018 Dora Award for Outstanding New Play, Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools is coming to Edinburgh’s International Festival’s The Studio for its European debut. Inuk artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Toronto queer theatre-maker Evalyn Parry share the stage in a dramatic meeting between two extraordinary artists. The concert, conversation and multimedia performance examines Canada’s Indigenous history, colonial legacy, politics, Feminism, and the advancing threat of climate change. The word ‘kiinalik’ translates to mean the knife is sharp, or, ‘it has a face’. In the Inuktitut language, when a knife is dull, it is said to ‘have no face’. Described as ‘a bracing, beautiful, thought-provoking, unsettling, challenging show’ by Intermission Magazine. Running from the 2nd – 5th August at 7:30pm and 3rd & 5th August at 2pm.
Ojii-Cree dancer and artist Lara Kramer is bringing three works to Summerhall, which run as a chronological progression, exploring the past, present and future; highlighting that to care for the next generation we must look at the past and the cyclical nature of everything being interconnected. Opening with Native Girl Syndrome, a dive into street culture which takes the audience on a dynamic journey of addiction, loss and alienation. The piece is inspired by the experience of Kramer’s own grandmother of having migrated from a remote First Nations community into an unfamiliar urban environment as a young woman, from 2nd-4th and 7th-11th August at 4:20pm. This Time Will Be Different, co-created by Emilie Monnet, is a performance-based installation on the present that denounces the Canadian government’s discourse on Indigenous peoples and offers an inter-generational ceremony to celebrate beauty and survival, from 13th-18th August at 4pm. Miijin Ki, a word in the Anishnabemowin language which translates to ‘Eating Land’, is a new work in development where Kramer, along with her collaborators, create non-violent tensions of a future of living and being on the land. Running from 20th-24th August at 4pm.
Songs in The Key of Cree is a compilation of tunes written over the past thirty years by Cree-Canadian playwright/ songwriter/pianist Tomson Highway, named by Canadian news magazine Maclean’s as ‘one of the 100 most important people in Canadian history’. The songs will be sung by extraordinary Peruvian-Canadian cabaret singer, Patricia Cano, accompanied by jazz saxophonist Marcus Ali, and by Tomson Highway himself on the piano. Coming to CanadaHub from 31st July – 18th August at 7pm (except Mondays).
Having recently premiered at Sydney Festival where the show received tremendous acclaim, with The Conversation describing it as “a work of immense power and restraint” and Time Out Australia as a “highlight”, Deer Woman is a one-woman play about a Blackfoot woman seeking vengeance for the murder of her younger sister and the 1,600 other Indigenous women recorded as missing or murdered in Canada in recent decades. Following their time as Artists-in-Residence for the inaugural CanadaHub, ARTICLE 11 return to the venue with this new solo work. Running from 31st July – 25th August at 2:30pm (except Mondays).
ICS’s series will culminate in Kanata Cabaret Hour, ‘Kanata’ the Haudenosaunee word for Canada, a showcase of the many Indigenous artists in Edinburgh over August. The hour will offer up a radical mixture of dance, music and live art from Indigenous and Scottish perspectives, running at CanadaHub from the 21st – 24th August at 7pm.
At the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Indigenous Contemporary Scene is bringing two performances of words and music under the umbrella ‘Songs from the Land’. Songs from the Land: Sometimes I Speak English is born out of indigenous experiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Inuit poet and throat singer Taqralik Partridge performs alongside celebrated Cree cellist Cris Derksen. Scottish musician Inge Thomson, from Fair Isle, presents new works inspired by the landscape there. On the 15th August at 8pm. In Songs from the Land: Calling Home, Inuit poet and throat singer Taqralik Partridge performs with celebrated Cree cellist Cris Derksen. Tara Beagan, one half of ARTICLE 11 and a Ntlakapamux author who has written about the Beothuk human remains at the National Museum of Scotland, and Shetlandic poet Roseanne Watt, read from their latest works. On the 16th August at 5:30pm.
The programme offers collaborations with Scottish producers and Indigenous art practices from Canada, through the intersection of these voices within the context of the most powerful festival coalition in the English-speaking world: Edinburgh Festivals.
Michael Rubenfeld from Selfconscious Productions, the creators and producers of CanadaHub, said: “We are honoured to be a partner on Indigenous Contemporary Scene. Indigenous narratives are essential for Canada’s futures, and we are grateful for the remarkable work Onishka Productions is doing and agreeing to partner with CanadaHub on this superb program of work.”
Indigenous Contemporary Scene Scotland runs from the 1st-24th August 2019 across the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Summerhall and CanadaHub) and Edinburgh Book Festival. Further exciting Book Festival programme details will be revealed in the coming months.