A play based on the experiences of the late playwright Larry Guno at a residential school is set to go on tour in British Columbia starting Sept. 28.
Written by Guno, Bunk #7 is 20 years in the making, telling an inspiring true story of his time at the Edmonton Indian Residential School in the 1960s.
“We live in a tumultuous time, in a time where truth is not always as it seems and to bring a little bit of truth to Canadians’ eyes is definitely something that I am passionate about,” said actor Keifer Collison who added that he’s proud to be part of a play that raises awareness of First Nations history.
The troupe is preparing to go on a tour of northern B.C. Tour starting ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
According to director Marianne Brorup Weston, the play was set to be released more than a decade ago but hit major barriers after Guno’s death.
“Larry passed away in 2005 very, very suddenly, so the play was put on hold for a number of years. I did a play tour with at-risk youth and IRS survivors to gather information because the play wasn’t completely finished, “ she said.
Born in the Nisga’a Village Gitlaxt’aamiks, Guno is described as charismatic and driven.
He represented Atlin in the B.C. legislative assembly and was a lawyer who played a large role in the Nisga’a Final Agreement, which was signed with B.C. and federal governments in 1998.
In an interview with APTN News, his sister Kym Guno said their parents always talked about the importance of education and they were pleased when Larry graduated from law school.
“We were just so proud of him, you know, just amazed at what he could do, and this is what he kept putting out to our family and young people,” she said. “You could do anything you want, put your mind to it, focus and be prepared to sacrifice. “
Kym said her brother overcame many barriers, including residential school.
His time there was something he didn’t talk about and she said this play was part of giving voice to himself and his classmates.
“I believe this play was a way for Larry to share with people what happened to them, and it was his voice, and it was the voice of the other young boys that were in that school,” she said.
Kym’s husband, Dale Good, says Bunk #7 was meant to be the first chapter of many.
In his discussions with Larry Guno, he wanted other survivors to add additional chapters by telling their own stories.
“He said there are many chapters that have to be told, and his was only one of them, which Bunk #7 is about, it’s just the one chapter in thousands of what needs to be heard, “ he said.
The play features a scene where the boys riot against the poor conditions at the school.
Brorup-Weston said the play holds a timely message after the recent discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools across Canada.
“They found a way to even form a little government of their own so they could make life better, and to tell that story in the face of all the tragedy, I think is going to be huge,” said Brorup-Weston.
Brought to audiences by The Raven Collective, which includes Guno’s family, Bunk #7 will start it’s tour at the REM Lee Theatre in Terrace, B.C.
IRS support will be in attendance for residential school survivors if needed.
Future dates can be found on social media through The Raven Collective.