A message from Theatre Projects Manitoba
A demand for change is being heard within our many and diverse communities throughout this land.
Indigenous, Black, and people of colour, along with allies, demand and deserve a dismantling of the racist systems of power that have kept BIPOC artists from positions of leadership, and from contributing equitably to the richness of our communities.
We have been watching the news and the calls for change through #BlackLivesMatter and directly from our community of artists. Theatres and arts organizations are not exempt from institutional racism. We recognize this racism exists.
Theatre Projects Manitoba acknowledges that the majority of our company is white and carries the privilege this gives us as individuals and as an organization. We are in the process of grappling with our own issues of institutional racism, social justice and equity. We are humbled in this process and humbly ask for patience as we break down our system so that we can successfully change. This work will take time –it will be a priority in our upcoming strategic plan and cycle of artistic activities. It must be an ongoing continual process. It will involve all of our organization and must be done with the care and integrity it deserves.
To help us achieve this goal we will begin by forming a community working group to ensure a myriad of voices in these conversations to help us change. We wish to be purposeful and intentional in our job of listening and learning and growing as individuals and as a company. We will be inviting the voices into this conversation who have been missing. The staff and Board are currently reaching out to find a facilitator to lead us all in these discussions. We anticipate naming that facilitator in the coming weeks and to then announce opportunities for greater community engagement and concrete actions in the weeks and months to follow.
We need your voices. You are our voices. We undertake to share our plan and our planning with any of you who want to be part of this process as it unfolds.
Our hope is for inclusion and equity in our practices, resulting in a more just and compassionate community. Theatre Projects Manitoba acknowledges that we work on Treaty One Territory and in the homeland of the Métis Nation. It is on this land that we strive to listen, learn and create in solidarity with our BIPOC artists, friends, colleagues and allies.
Ardith Boxall, Rea Kavanagh, Andraea Sartison, Emily Solstice Tait, staff
Bill Kerr, Justin Deeley, Carolyn Lussier, Ray Singer, Kyle Mason, Anne Bolton, Chris Werstiuk, Clay Purves, board of directors
Hañwakañ Blaikie Whitecloud
Hañwakañ Blaikie Whitecloud with his wife, Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud, and musician Daniel Jordan in front of the sign for the cable Ferry to take them to Matheson Island
Filmmaker and skateboarder, Hañwakañ Blaikie Whitecloud, is one of the talented artists who is working with TPM to explore and connect with the Interlake region. Last week he and his wife Tessa travelled through the Interlake visiting Winnipeg Beach, Arborg, Matheson Island, Gimli, Selkirk, and various sites in between.
Here’s what Hañwakañ had to say about his most recent travels…
What was your main intention during this trip through the Interlake and where is the project leading?
Research, interviews and collecting stories while also exploring the land and being curious about the history of the space. Ultimately I wanted to know how people maintain their health through fun activities including skateboarding, hootenannies (an informal gathering with folk music and sometimes dancing) which we were invited to participate in at a local farm. What an amazing way to pass the time.
You are a documentary filmmaker. How does this play into the project?
I have the equipment! But also am patient with interviewing and have experience with asking the right questions. I am excited to use my favourite filmmaking tools which are the drone and a newly acquired Osmo Pocket. The Osmo is the size of big lipstick and has its own gimbal so I don’t have to carry around my old heavy equipment, it has really changed the game.
“The drone shot is of Riverton, MB. A beached ship to the bottom right, to the bottom left is an old historic cemetery site which had been unmarked for some time. This is also just before the Icelandic river flows into Lake Winnipeg” – Hanwakan
And you’re also a skateboarder and planning to skate the Interlake skate parks along the way. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Originally I was hoping to grab a number of talented skateboarders to provide skateboarding demonstrations across the Interlake, however the ‘rona has put the halt on that plan. So now it’s discovering what our wonderful interviewees have provided as information for a story to latch on to. I am hoping to head back up and skate the parks, we were too busy this time to make it happen but I want to. I am definitely going to be touching base with the Selkirk skatepark community and am itching to tell that story since I had a small hand in designing the skatepark and was there for the grand opening.
“This is the Selkirk skatepark, located in Selkirk Park close to the Red River, this park features an artificial beach with pool, dog park, skate park, fair grounds, and a horse stable. The Selkirk skatepark is my favourite skatepark in Manitoba.”
Anything you’d really like to touch on about the project?
I was interested in learning and that’s what the project is about to me, learning, appreciating, respecting, and having fun along the way. Our trip to Matheson Island was a highlight that was eye-opening because I cannot believe people still live up there, and are able to make a decent living, while also have a cable ferry that is free! We were joking as the ferry operator looked like he was about to hit us up for cash and we started guessing how much it would be but then he waved us on haha.
“This is the Arnheiðarstaðir ‘Eagle Heath Stead’ historic site which was the original homestead of Icelandic settler Johann Magnus Bjarnason. On the back of the monument is a map showing the locations of other homesteads in the Geysir district.”
Hañwakañ Blaikie Whitecloud
Hañwakañ (Hañwakañ = ‘Northern Lights’ in Dakhóta) Blaikie Whitecloud is a mixed media storyteller who has called Winnipeg home since the age of five. Active in the business and skateboarding community as a mentor and leader, Hanwakan even has some skate-sons, as he’s stepped in to be a father figure for youth in need.
As a filmmaker, his work focuses on building identity for urban Indigenous youth. His latest documentary series is about Pow Wows across Canada (Living by the Drum: Canadian Pow Wows), and his current project explores celestial creation stories of Indigenous nations. As a skateboarder Hanwakan supports Indigenous youth to strive for their best selves by shirking the stereotypes and prejudices attributed to Indigenous and skateboarding identities. His most recent creation is an instagram guide to all the skateboard parks in Winnipeg (@wpgskateparks), a resource for skaters he always wished he had access to and has now created for the next generation. Hañwakañ is also an active volunteer, especially with 1JustCity, at their overnight emergency warming center. Hañwakañ and his wife co-facilitate workshops on reconciliation, systems change, and generally just have tons of fun together trying to make the world a little bit better.
The Case of Juanita Sanchez
Retiring in the midst of the pandemic lockdown , a man tries to come to terms with his life’s work, the death of his infant son, and the failure of his marriage. Is he seeking the truth or dodging it?
Written by Steven Ratzlaff,
adapted from his play Last Man in Puntarenas
A film adaptation of the play Last Man in Puntarenas Ratzlaff wrote as part of our 2010 In the Chamber series.
Length: 40 minutes
Hugo: Steven Ratzlaff
Alix: Sarah Constible
Shot and Edited by Sarah Constible
Dramaturgy: Bill Kerr