What are the kids saying about reconciliation? This Winnipeg play spent two years finding out

Play had to scale down, move online due to the COVID-19 pandemic

A new play examining what reconciliation looks like through the eyes of Indigenous youth debuted in Winnipeg this week.

The voices of more than 70 Indigenous youth in the city make up a new theatre production called Songide’ewin.

The final piece is the result of two years of interviews with youth on what reconciliation looks like to them.

“This play I think gives non-Indigenous people an insight into what it’s really like to be an Indigenous youth today, especially in Winnipeg,” said director Tracey Nepinak.

Nepinak’s play was supposed to hit the stage in May but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local theatre company Sarasvàti produced the piece, partnering with seven organizations and guest artists to host workshops for Indigenous youth.

Through this the youth created stories of how they interact with the world around them.

“There’s a lot of strength to their voices and really eye-opening, and I think in light of the pandemic and the riots, all of these things hit the ears in a different way than maybe before all of it happened,” Nepinak said.

Braiden Houle, one of the actors tasked with bringing the stories to life, says it’s been an honour to be a part of this storytelling.

“Truth and reconciliation has been talked about for a number of years but now it’s finally starting to become something that everyone is trying to understand now, and it’s nice to talk about reconciliation through acting,” said Houle.

The original production was supposed to have a crew of elders, dancers and singers but had to be scaled down to six performers because of physical distancing.

Performances were open to a small group of ticket-holders but were also being streamed online for a small price.

“I think everyone is happy that we’re being on stage again because we’ve all been quarantined for a number of months,” said Houle.

The last performance is taking place Thursday evening.

Reporter / Winnipeg

Brittany joined the APTN news team in October 2016. She is Ojibway and a member of the Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba. Before coming to APTN, she graduated with a joint degree in communications from the University of Winnipeg and Red River College.