While we hunkered down to ride out the pandemic storm, we used the time to take a long hard look at our place in Montreal’s cultural landscape by creating the Artistic Diversity Discussion @ Centaur, which has generated a number of new initiatives including our inaugural Indigenous Artist Residency. This residency supports the interdisciplinary artist, Ange Loft, and her project Talking Treaties: Tiotià:ke – an in depth theatrical exploration of the history of the land that we are on. Ange is gathering stories from a variety of sources in the area including Kahnawake elders and Catholic Church archives. I look forward to sharing more about this potent production as the work evolves over the year.
The Honorable Murray Sinclair, leader of the original Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says the path to healing the relationship between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of Canada is through respect, education and positive action. In place of a land acknowledgement, I encourage you to visit the website of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. We all have so much to learn from one another.
Montreal is an incredible place in which to have the privilege to make theatre. It has such a rich and unique story of its own.
Long before Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence and encountered a nation of Iroquoian people in a place called Hochelaga, the island which the European settlers chose to call Montreal had been a point of conflict, conference, creativity and exchange since time immemorial for many Indigenous peoples including the Anishinaabe, Huron/Wendat, and Abénaki nations.
The people of the Kanienkéha:ka Nation– known in English as the Mohawk – are now considered the caretakers of the land and water around Montreal. In their language this island bears the name of Tiohtià:ke, which means “broken in two” because of the way the river breaks around it.
I love how this Indigenous language identifies the island as part of the river, because it reminds me that we are all in the flow of a much larger story. This mighty river has for centuries carried people here from all over the world in search of new opportunities and new lives and the Lachine Rapids that sit just off the western tip of this island have given pause to many of those journeys.
The river has made contemporary Montreal into a vibrantly diverse city. I find that diversity inspiring because it is by telling each other our stories that we build bridges between our different cultures and languages. And so I offer you stories at Centaur Theatre that I hope can build a bridge to you along with everyone in the audience no matter where you come from. They are all stories that explore our hearts and hopefully open our minds to affirm our collective humanity.
-Eda Holmes, Artistic and Executive Director