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

The history of Ondinnok has also been marked by the projects of its founders, including “Mesnak” [Original idea from Yves Sioui Durand] Co-written by Robert Morin, Mesnak was shot in Innu and French. This is the first Quebec fiction feature film directed by a member of the First Nations (released in 2012).

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

On May 7, 2005, to celebrate Ondinnok’s 20th anniversary, our company presented the “J’entends crier le ventre de la terre” evening at the Maison de la culture Frontenac.