September 30 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada; a day to recognize the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, and their families and communities. At Place des Arts we acknowledge and are heartbroken by the painful and ongoing impacts of residential schools. We are taking this day to reflect and acknowledge that our story is not the only story to be told.

We want to uplift and celebrate Indigenous artists who we have had the privilege of working with and learning from. Make time today to learn how you can make strides in your daily life to positively impact Indigenous people in our community.

Christine MacKenzie

Christine MacKenzie is a First Nations visual artist, born in Kelowna, BC. Her mother is a descendant of Kwakuitl royalty. Christine is of the Killer Whale and Eagle Clans. She grew up in southwestern British Columbia, in the Coast Salish traditional territories. Christine finds inspiration in the natural world, seeing beauty in nature’s creations.

Christine is self-taught and her creativity and style are unique. She loves to work with pencil crayon, acrylics and charcoal and has been exploring other mediums to grow as an artist. The fact that the Kwakuitl First Nation has been slowly diminishing has been a driving force in Christine’s desire to capture aspects of the culture before it disappears.

Her ties to the First Nations community keeps her fully occupied as she promotes native art through workshops, dramatic on-stage re-enactments and day camps.

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Christine has been a contributor at Place des Arts, working as one of our Artists-In-Residence.

Molly Billows

Molly Billows is a Coast Salish artist from the Homalco Nation. They have been living as a visitor in Vancouver, on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations since 2011.

They are a queer, mixed, urban, Indigenous feminist, a spoken word poet, facilitator and a youth worker. Molly weaves together stories in ways that lifts their communities, and contribute to collective healing, rage, resurgence and love.

Kwhlii Gibaygum Nisga’a Traditional Dancers

The Kwhlii Gibaygum Nisga’a (KGN) are a dynamic, high-energy group of performers who incorporate the stories, songs and dances of their W̓ahlingigat (Ancestors) into contemporary performances. They are from Unceded Lands of the Coast Salish. These dancers bring innovation and creativity to the table and take their cultural and traditional roles to heart.

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Christie Lee Charles

From Musqueam/Tsleil-Waututh Nations, Christie lee Charles, aka Miss Christie Lee, is a direct decedent of the great warrior Capilano. Christie raps in her Indigenous Musqueam dialect with a passion to empower Aboriginal youth to be proud of their roots. She is also a member of Vancouver’s First Ladies Crew, an all-female hip hop crew of strong women with positive voices.

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Dylan Rysstad

Dylan grew up in Prince Rupert, BC, and moved to Vancouver as a teen. By 18 he was playing bars with his band The Badamps, before forming The Jolts with fellow Ramones devotee, Joey Blitzkrieg. Throughout the years, Dylan has shared a stage with a wide array of notable acts. Dylan now resides in Victoria, and has been lucky enough to have played with some of the island’s most accomplished musicians. Dylan’s has a natural ability to shift from punk rock to folk rock.

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Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson is an internationally acclaimed Haisla and Heiltsuk novelist and short story writer. She is a graduate of UBC’s master’s program in Creative Writing, she has received numerous awards, including the 2016 Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award. Her novel, Son of a Trickster, was shortlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

If you are interested in more literature, here is a list of books to read to understand residential schools by Indigenous writers.

Take time today to expand your horizons and learn about the many artists who have been influenced and continue to shape Canada’s culture.

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