This is a repost of Kim Senklip Harvey’s blog post, used with permission. The original can be found at www.kimsenklipharvey.com/blog.
It’s day 1 of the Kamloopa portion of the Indigenous artistic ceremony we’re creating and the power and energy is ancestrally kinetic. We’re going to spend the next 2 days honouring and presencing ourselves to arrive and get in tune. I did some deep work at the end of last week, disconnecting from tech and reconnecting to Indigenous values of love, respect and listening and I’m absolutely going to be embedding that practice into all of my artistic creation journeys.
The creation of the Indigenous ceremony Kamloopa has been a big learning curve for a lot of people including myself. Approaching this with producing partners that are Canadian colonial institution
Kim Senklip Harvey, Fire Igniter, Writer/Director for Kamloopa
We are focusing Kamloopa around the 7 Grandmother teachings of wisdom, love, respect, truth, courage, honesty and humility. In all of our creation work we’re reflecting back on how our engagements intersect with these 7 teachings and with the following Smoke Signal we strongly ask that as you engage the ceremony centring those values as well. s with primarily Settler producers has evoked teachings of humility, understanding and knowledge. I do want to take a moment to honour the producing partners and all their staff for their courage in journeying into the dark with me until we all can arrive at the fire together. Limelet.
Please click here to read the official Smoke Signal that speaks to the protocol for this ceremony. One protocol states that Settlers do no write formal critiques of the ceremony, this request comes from a number of places that I really look forward to speaking about at the Community of Practices (COP) in Vancouver on On Monday, Sept 24, 6-7:30 pm at the Cultch. Dates to be confirmed in Kamloops at WCT and Saskatoon.
I will touch briefly on the main rationale but I hope that the community can respect that myself and the Fire Creation team are headed into a very intense portion of our journey. So I hope we can respond in a way that doesn’t put the labour of explaining settler oppression of Indigenous peoples onto Indigenous peoples participating in creating artistic ceremony. I was once taught that I should be mindful of what I ask of others, contextually in this moment with Indigenous peoples because those questions, that time is time away from us participating in spiritual practice.
So here goes:
First, Indigenous protocol. Period. End of story.
Hahaha but seriously like, we’re stating it’s Indigenous artistic ceremony protocol, that should be enough and that alone should be respected. I’ve had the fortune and privilege of participating in ceremony and in the Indigenous paradigm, questioning that would be extremely disrespectful. It makes me cringe thinking about questioning a knowledge holder of a longhouse or sweat or any ceremony. #Shudder #Barf
For Indigenous sovereignty to occur I understand that Settlers need to understand Indigeneity but I will say this, I have a PHD in Whiteness. I’ve been studying Settler Eurocentricity my entire life, I live under Settler oppression all of the time, so I’ve put my time in doing the work, research, lived experiences and detailed studies of why I’m positioned in society where I am.
So I offer everyone to do a inventory of where their level of understanding is with regards to Indigenous world views, ceremony, historical and pre-colonial paradigms of thoughts and everything beyond. Then I offer, you consider how you make your requests from Indigenous peoples or make potentially oppressive comments towards Indigenous peoples who continue to live under siege of Settler and white supremacy.
After that inventory, I would make another offer that as a Settler, take time, significant time, to listen and listen and listen and experience and experience and experience and before you speak and that maybe you use your Settler power that currently is wielded against us to actually hold space for Indigenous peoples to engage and be given voice instead of you taking more space.
If you feel the need to speak or be given voice before, above and or louder than Indigenous peoples about the ceremony then you are actively continuing to use your Settler power to silence, take space and harm Indigenous peoples and I think you’ve missed the invitation, the offer, the opportunity here.
Settlers have oppressively positioned themselves in this theatrical context to have some presumed kind of academic and or artistic “authority” over Indigenous peoples. Historically and contemporarily that might be permissible protocol in Canadian theatre – but this is not that. This is Indigenous artistic ceremony, so I offer for you to take an inventory again, of why you think you have been given authority, permission or be entitled to speak, critique or position yourselves over Indigenous Matriarchs creating Indigenous artistic ceremony.
Kaitlyn Yott as Mikaya in Kamloopa (Sept 25 – Oct 6); Photo Credit: Emily Cooper
We’re not looking for comparative analysis with Canadian Theatre and we’re not seeking comparative experiential analysis with Canadian Theatre that has told Indigenous stories. We are inviting you to come and bear witness and participate in Indigenous artistic ceremony, to learn what that means and not assert Settler power aggressively over us. At the top of the Kamloopa ceremony we will share with you how to bear witness and we hope you can embody the values of respect, humility, courage, wisdom, trust, love and honesty as we journey through this together in our co-existence.
With all of that being said and with great excitement we’d like to make this our official invitation for Indigenous people’s who see themselves in the work to speak about the show: Mom’s, Sisters, Aunty’s, academics, community members, cuzzins and friends come hang out with us! We’re having talkbacks and talking circles specifically for Indigenous voices to be presenced and celebrated so please check out the websites for more details. We really would love to hear form the Indigenous community. DM us, grab us before or after the ceremony, tweet us, lets meet for tea, walks and chats.
This story, this ceremony is for our Indigenous peoples, it is to give voice and illuminate the power of Indigenous women. It is about our unwielded power and unsuppressed Settler suppremacy for the entire journey of the artistic ceremony. That is the power we are reclaiming over our storytelling ceremony with Kamloopa.
With respect, in love and deep hope we can be vulnerable together to live courageously, we look forward to seeing you in the Long Lodge.
For more information about Kamloopa, and to be a part of the conversation, follow along the Kamloopa journey on Kim Senklip Harvey’s blog; learn about, “the brave women who’ve agreed to bring this ceremony to life,” and read about how Kim is including Indigenous women in all aspects of the process, in Equity in Action: Access to the Fire.
“We’re looking for Indigenous women from all aspects of our community, I want our Grandmas, our teachers, our friends, Aunties—the women who are sometimes not seen or not appreciated enough. Kamloopa is about presenting Indigenous women throughout the entire process and this aspect is super important to me.”
Kamloopa runs Sept 25-Oct 6, at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.