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35 years of Indigenous creation

Monday 20 January 2020

2020 is a special year for the company since we celebrate our 35th anniversary : 35 years of artistic resistance and indigenous creation!

[1/35] Here is our logo for 2020!

[2/35] Yves Sioui Durand

A member of the Huron-Wendat Nation, Yves Sioui Durand is a performer, actor, dramaturge, director and film maker. Since 1984, he has created a body of theatre work unique in Québec. It is founded on the quest for a truly Aboriginal theatre rooted in the myths and history of First Nations here and elsewhere around the world. He is one of the founders of Ondinnok productions and was the artistic director until July 2017. Since then, Yves has focused mainly on his role as an artistic mentor.

[3/35] Catherine Joncas

Actor, author and director trained at the Conservatoire d’Art dramatique de Québec, Catherine Joncas is one of the founding members of Ondinnok. Since 1996, she has also been the Administrative Director thus assuring the feasibility of all the company’s activities. She has written numerous plays produced by Ondinnok. In 2000, she wrote, performed and directed her most autobiographical play The Kiskimew Rendez-vous. In 2006, she directed Tales of an Urban Indian that, in 2009, toured the Maisons de la Culture à Montréal network, nine First Nation communities throughout Québec and La Rochelle France.

[4/35] Notre logo

Ondinnok’s logo as you know it today, comes from this art piece of F.Girard made in 1985 :

[5/35] John Blondin

Coming from a large and respected family from Deline (Fort Franklin) North West Territories, John Blondin (1960-1996) cofounded Ondinnok with Yves and Catherine. “John was an extraordinary man, full of energy, imagination and humour. He believed in art and its power to change things. He was in love with his culture and his territory.” – Yves Sioui Durand

[6/35] Ondinnok’s first creation

Summer 1985, in the heart of Montreal, the drums of “He Who Bears the Grief of the World” are resonating. They announce the birth of a work and thus the creation of Ondinnok, the first French-speaking Indigenous theatre company in Canada. Do you recognize the place?

[7/35] Our anniversary

While the mayor of Montreal announced yesterday (April 7, 2020) the cancellation of all public gatherings until July 2, we would like to make a wish :

During our next season, we wish to be able to celebrate our anniversary with you. We are working hard to organize an event. Take care of yourself and see you soon!

[8/35] Opitowap’s anniversary

Our founder Catherine Joncas wanted to celebrate today the anniversary of the premiere of OPITOWAP which took place on May 27, 1995, with this letter (french only)

[9/35] Ondinnok’s birthday

On June 2, 1985, 35 years ago, Ondinnok was born and the “He Who Bears the Grief of the World” was born at the first FTA, in the heart of Montreal. This creation has been performed on many occasions throughout the world in the ten years following its premiere. Playwright/Director: Yves Sioui Durand

[10/35] Rabinal Achi’s 10th anniversary

On June 18th, 2020 we’ve celebrated XAJOJ TUN RABINAL ACHI ‘s 10th anniversary, coproduced by Présence autochtone (Direction : Yves Sioui-Durand)

[11/35] Ondinnok : artistic creation AND resistance

On May 2017, Ondinnok called Indigenous artists in all disciplines and representatives of the principal Indigenous arts organizations to a summit meeting in Montréal,
a State of Affairs on Indigenous Arts in Québec, before publishing this manifesto for the Advancement of Aboriginal Arts, Artists, and Arts Organizations of Québec written and signed by more than
70 Indigenous artists and artistic organizations in Quebec, and sent to more than 40 Indigenous and non-Indigenous politics and artistic institutions.

[12/35] In 2018, Ondinnok presented its very first creation for children, with VOX THÉÂTRE

“Mokatek is the power of dreams. Children have this faculty to dream freely. Fortunately, this power to invent can still animate us once we become grown-ups… You just have to look above the stars! “- Christine Sioui Wawanoloath artist Abénakise-Wendat, creator of the Mokatek poster

[13/35] Have you ever attended an Aboriginal Art Spring?

Produced by Ondinnok in 2013, this event invited the general public to engage in a dialogue through art, with today indigenous world of today. A first that was so successful that an Aboriginal Spring of Art TWO and THREE followed in 2015 and 2017!

[14/35] Beyond his creations, Ondinnok’s particular theatrical approach intrigues and fascinates!

His approach borrows certain codes from ceremonies and rituals from the indigenous cultures of the Americas. It aims to reconnect with ancestors and the sacred bond that unites man and nature. Stones, various objects, masks, are used to remind us of a past, an emotion or an omen. Over the years, Ondinnok has given several mythological theater workshops …

[15/35] The Conquest of Mexico was a unique theatrical experience within the dramaturgy of Quebec

The play was premiered in 1991 at Espace Libre in co-production with Le Nouveau Théâtre Experimental. It remains, to this day, one of Ondinnok’s founding pieces.”How a mighty empire, a solidly established social structure, a civilization of great refinement, a large and well-trained army, how could that, in a few months, collapse under the blows of a handful adventurers, more or less at odds with their own nation? “- Jean-Pierre Ronfard, director of the play

[16/35] Our founder Yves Sioui Durand

Did you know that our founder Yves Sioui Durand won the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 2017 in the “Artistic Achievement in Theater” category AND received his Compagnon des arts et des lettres du Québec badge in 2018?

[17/35] Hamlet the Maliseet

Hamlet the Maliseet is Ondinnok’s first creation in which our current artistic director Dave Jenniss performed! Ondinnok has appropriated Shakespeare’s Hamlet argument by diverting it within Indigenous identity and spiritual codes. Dave, a young urban Native American is looking for himself. He is also looking for who his father is. Young actor, he wants to present Hamlet in his Maliseet reserve of Kinogamish … Directed by: Jean-Frédéric Messier

[18/35] Femmes Rhizome

Femmes Rhizome, is a cultural mediation project imagined by Ondinnok and La Marie Debout women’s center in 2015. He proposed a trip to Aboriginal territory to discover oneself, one’s ancestors and that other.

[19/35] Do you know America’s best kept secret

A theatrical hoax played for the full month of January at minus 25 degrees, under the stars and under a large ceremonial tent (shaputuan) on the grounds of the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve market. This fable scrambles reality, archeology, history and fiction and twists together history with a practical joke. A moment of madness presented in coproduction with Momentum Theatre within the project called: Twelve masses for the beginning of the end of time made up of a different show presented four times each month in 1999.

[20/35] Wampum-Kaionn’i

When Yves Sioui-Durand’s poetry meshes with the musical quartet Kawandak, rivers of words stream forth like modern wampum. The audience will experience a musical odyssey with accents of blues, rock and jazz, and hear songs of condolence and of atonement to appease the suffering endured from one generation to the other. A vibrant homage to the ancestral memory orchestrated in a large poetic oratorio that renders to the present the voices of the past and engages in the future.

[21/35] A World that Comes to an End – Lola

Here name was Lola Kiepia. She was the last surviving Selk’nams, the Aboriginal people of the Tierra del fuego, exterminated by the colonisation at the end of the 19th century. Her world was destined to be forgotten when one woman, Anne Chapmen, took an interest. Fifty years later, eleven dancers and actors from across the Americas have given life to the mythological imagination of these ancestors from the far south in a work directed by Yves Sioui Durand and by Mexican choreographer Leticia Vera.

[22/35] Mesnak

Mesnak is a Canadian drama film, directed by our founder Yves Sioui Durand and released in 2011. The first feature film written and directed by an indigenous filmmaker from Quebec, the film stars Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon as Dave, a young man of Innu origin who was adopted by parents who raised him with no connection to his First Nations heritage.

[23/35] J’entends crier le ventre de la terre

On May 7, 2005, to celebrate Ondinnok’s 20th anniversary, our company organized a special event called : “I hear the earth crying from its core” at the Maison de la culture Frontenac.

[24/35] Tales of an Urban Indian

Ondinnok, by translating into French Tales of an Urban Indian by Simon Douglas, turned for the first time to the contemporary Aboriginal Anglophone repertoire since Aboriginal Francophone playwrights are so rare. Tales of an Urban Indian also gives concrete expression to a new orientation for the company: to make room for a new generation of Aboriginal artists and to support their development.

[25/35] State of Affairs on Indigenous Arts in Québec,

“Sometimes I tell myself that I will not see these changes in my lifetime, the day we will be treated as equals…” – Innu artist Marly Fontaine, in 2017, during the State of Affairs on Indigenous Arts in Quebec (in french only)

[26/35] Ktahkomiq

Ktahkomiq is a creation of Dave Jenniss mixing theater and dance, it was presented for the first time in 2017 in Montreal. Driven by the desire to reconnect with the Wolastoq language, Dave Jenniss and Ivanie Aubin-Malo tackle in this piece the difficulty of developing a strong affirmation of identity in a community undergoing reconstruction. Ktahkomiq means “territory” in Wolastoqey.

[27/35] Queen XOC’s Desire

This theatrical event escapes description but is punctuated with revolution, massacres, betrayals and ritual sacrifices. For this production, Ondinnok draws its inspiration from the Zinacantan carnaval in Chiapas and from extracts of sacred books from Chumayel, the Books of Chilam Balam containing the prophesies that have inspired the Mayan cultural resistance ever since the Spanish conquest.

[28/35] Wulustek

In 2006, Ondinnok continues its support for the new generation. David Jenniss, in residence with Ondinnok, takes on writing his first play A River of Lies presented in a reading in 2007 and then reworked with the actors as Wulustek. This was done under the direction of Peter Batagliev, a man of the Bulgarian theatre who since 2005 had taught in the intensive Aboriginals theatre-training program given by Ondinnok.

[29/35] Constrained body, Dancing body

The event Constrained body, Dancing body, Conversations and performances on Indigenous dance in Quebec today organized by Ondinnok and Tangente took place from May 2 to 4, 2018 at Tangente. The first discussion circle “The body’s role in activating ancestral memory and decolonizing the territory of the Great Turtle” is now available online thanks to La Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault.

[30/35] Kmùkamch, The Asiaindian

At the Montreal Botanical Garden on the symbolic space of the Chinese Garden and the First Nations Garden, Ondinnok superimposed an imaginary space that seeks to break down the ghettoized limits in which Aboriginals are locked. To escape the predetermined, folkloric role, they have chosen to not be Amerindians but be Asiaindians.

[31/35] L’Écorce de nos silences

L’Écorce de nos silences was presented during the first Aboriginal Spring of Art in 2013. Three Indigenous writers from the new generation presented their work : Jacinthe Connolly innue from Mashteuiatsh (Les Bougalous), Dave Jenniss, Wolastoqey (Le Tambour du temps) and Véronique Hébert attikamek from Wemotaci (Métusse).

[32/35] The Meeting – Kiskimew

After fifteen years of plunging body and soul into Aboriginal culture, Catherine Joncas was ready to hand on her experience. An old Cree dictionary that the playwright had received from her grandfather became the catalyst of this story. The Meeting deals with all those little encounters, sometimes successful sometimes not, between Whites and Aboriginals.

[33/35] Ondinnok in the media

Here are some interview’s excerpts of Yves and Catherine (in french only)

[34/35] Teaching theatre

We talk about the process of teaching and learning theatre through Ondinnok’s approach : “Faire Ondinnok” in Jeu, la revue #176. Thank you to Clément Cazelais, Kathia Rock and Charles Buckell who have shared their precious memories with us!

[35/35] Mawessine : Unified FOR and BY Indigenous Art

We are glad to announce that we will hold an event on April 10 and 11, 2021 at l’Agora du Cœur des sciences de l’UQAM ⥤ Mawessine : Unified FOR and BY Indigenous Art. Mawessine means « union » in wolastoqey. More info coming soon! (Visual by the Atikamekw artist : Catherine Boivin, inspired by « Le porteur des peines du monde », written and directed by Yves Sioui-Durand)