I am so grateful to the Artists, Teachers, Mentors, Leaders, Knowledge Keepers & Elders from the Calgary Arts Development Authority, The Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity and Chromatic Theatre Playwrights Unit for an incredible Sabbatical year of Professional Learning, Growth & Creativity through immersion in Indigenous Arts, Leadership, Storytelling & Learning on the Land! After such a remarkable year, I return to my work with Rocky View Schools this Fall with fresh energy and enthusiasm. I'm looking forward to the launch of the new Indigenous Education branch within the Learning Department, and I can't wait to contribute my experiences, connections and learning from this sabbatical year to this new initiative and seeing its potential realized and made visible in the months to come!
This is a remarkable month of creativity and learning as my new play, When It Rains, develops in workshops with Chromatic Theatre Playwrights Unit, culminating in a public reading with professional performers at the Grand Theatre in Calgary in June. The work with the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity project to capture Oral Histories for the 50th Anniversary of their Indigenous Leadership program progresses, as well, and I'm honoured to continue meeting with Leaders, Faculty & Elders for on-camera interviews at their beautiful on-campus facilities. There have also been a few occasions lately to share my presentation, Call Me Liberte, which is about the Sixties-Scoop, Adoption & Reunion, with pre-service teachers at MRU and UofC, and RVS high-school students taking the Indigenous Studies course. Another privilege this month will be to re-connect with Indigenous Artist, Sandra Lamouche, and capture her new Jingle Healing Dance out on the Land beside Johnson Lake near Banff. The days are just packed!
This year celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Indigenous Leadership Program at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity. I am very honoured to join the Indigenous Leadership team this Spring as the Oral Histories Interviewer and Videographer to gather stories about the program from faculty, staff and alumni. It will be amazing to return to the Rocky VIEWS of the Banff Centre as the snow melts and the flowers blossom and listen to the stories of our Indigenous Leaders and Elders and share their stories and perspectives with the World!
This collection of short documentaries chronicles the learning journey of the Making Learning Visible initiative in Rocky View Schools. The RockyDocs series shares what learning has looked like in classrooms and on the Land, as students across the grades and communities experience learning through projects, design, creativity, storytelling, adventure and hands-on, experiential learning. Watch the entire series, now streaming in the RockyDocs Showcase!
It was a privilege at the end of the Summer 2021 to be out on the Land in Southern Alberta with Cree artist, Sandra Lamouche, to capture her brilliant dance & poetry piece entitled, Gather. The video of her performance will be screening on-demand at the Matriarchs Uprising festival this month, from February 14–19, 2022. Click the image to see Sandra's work alongside other "Indigenous women weaving stories of transformation"!
"Gather is a work in progress that uses land based practices and processes. Soniyaw niyipsi (silver willow) is the inspiration, the seeds of the berries were made into necklaces and worn for spiritual protection. They are ripe in late summer and early fall, so they are ready to be used at the time when traditionally people were less mobile. An ideal time to do beadwork."
Here are the Festival details:
Introducing Matriarchs Uprising Festival 2022 artist Sandra Lamouche
Sandra's dance film 'Gather' will be available for viewing on the Matriarchs Uprising website during the festival from Feb 14-19. 'Gather' is a work in progress that uses land based practices and processes. Soniyaw niyipsi (silver willow) is the inspiration, the seeds of the berries were made into necklaces and worn for spiritual protection. They are ripe in late summer and early fall, so they are ready to be used at the time when traditionally people were less mobile. An ideal time to do beadwork. Also catch Sandra in the Online Talking Truths Artist Circle Conversation, alongside artists Nimikii Couchie, Jessica McMann, Samantha Sutherland and Olivia C. Davies on February 16th 8pm-9pm. Find more info and register for all the amazing festival offerings at Matriarchs Uprising.
In November 2021, I was privileged to participate in the Indigenous Playwrights Nest at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity with several other creators from across Canada. One of the projects that I was developing during that residency is a two-act stage play entitled, When It Rains. In the coming months, I will be workshopping the script with the Chromatic Theatre Playwrights Unit. It's an honour and a challenge, but I feel very supported by my fellow playwrights, and the theatre company's dramaturg, producer and artistic director. It is such a fulfilling experience to work in a collaborative environment, with peers and professionals all contributing to encourage one's best work. Learn more about the artists in this season's Playwrights Unit (and stay tuned for details about the upcoming public readings in the Spring!) on the Chromatic Theatre website: https://chromatictheatre.ca
To me, every Winter Solstice feels like the real first day of the new year. The Earth has completed its transit and has tilted its farthest away from the Sun. In our part of the world, the day is brief, and cold. Yet now, the Earth begins to spin closer and tilt in to the sun for warmth. That's the true beginning of a new year, not the arbitrary calendar date decided by a committee. It makes sense to me to listen to the Earth, and look to the Sun for the rhythms and cadences of life. Of course, most people get a day off work on the first of January, which isn't that far away, allowing people a little respite after the frantic holidays before they resolve change their lives and to return to the gym. But for my part, I prefer to take a few moments on the Solstice itself for a little reflection and a little resolution, when the Earth gives me the nudge.
For the 2021/22 school year, I'm on a sabbatical to work on a few writing and storytelling projects that have been percolating for a while. This fall, I am attending a Playwrights Residency in the Leighton Studios at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The atmosphere is secluded and serene at the Banff Centre. It's inspiring to walk outdoors and then warm up in the studio with some new writing. I've been assigned to the "Davidson" studio, which sits on the edge of a little gully at the end of a secluded pathway, and whose windows are angled just-so for maximum privacy.
Inside, the studio has more than I need, namely the piano in the middle, because I don't play. Instead, I rely on the stereo for my soundtrack. Yet, one can't help but feel creative in this place where so many artists have composed, written and created.
I've put my trusty Smith Corona in the window so I can start my day with some "creative calisthenics" just typing some words manually, like a journal. It gets me going, and makes me spend just a little less time on the computer screen every day. It's become as important to my process as exercise and being outdoors on the Land.
So the goal during this residency is to draft the manuscript for a new stageplay that I'll be workshopping in the coming months with the Chromatic Theatre's Playwrights Unit in Calgary. Having this studio space and dedicated time to write, along with the comraderie and support of the other playwrights in the program, is a wonderful experience! It's inspiring to learn, write and create on the slopes of Sleeping Buffalo Mountain!
Join Elder Saa'kokoto for stories about Na'a, Mother Earth, and Living with the Land, in this series of RockyDocs that feature Indigenous Ways of Knowing:
Enjoy the complete series of animated short films that share what learning looks like in Rocky View Schools!
Create original content with your students for the Page, Stage & Screen by writing to be read, speaking to be heard and representing to be seen. There's a world of difference between creating for an audience and doing assignments for a grade. It's way more joyful to create written, spoken & visual stories with purpose for authentic audiences. So, adopt a Maker Mindset and design learning experiences with students that follow the creative journey from Imagination through Creation to Exhibition!
You can build #VisualLiteracy and #CreativeConfidence by practicing the habits of creators with your students to make print, visual, live, media and physical creations that you are proud of! For a little inspiration, start by listening to first-grader, Brookleyn, as she shares about what it means to be a maker.
Making learning visible means fostering creative confidence in your students through the three acts of the creative process: Imagine, Create & Exhibit. With a purposeful Maker Mindset, create high quality, original text, images and designs with your students and share them with real audiences.
The Creative Process
in Three Acts
Follow Macki in her creative journey with her teacher and peers in the VAM Academy, and see how creative confidence is fostered through opportunity, mentorship and trust.
In this new Rocky View Studio animated film, a student on a school field trip to the Alberta Foothills finds her voice and shares an inspiring story about the Land with her peers. It's amazing what students can create when given the opportunity, mentorship and the support of their peers!
This online celebration of student voice and creativity is arranged on a beautiful rvschools google site and features student speaking, writing & representing through artwork and reflection. Check out the PWE Grade Four Power of Art Portfolio!
This visual essay reflects on life during and after lockdown. This format of storytelling begins in the writing process, in which students are prompted to think about their own experiences. After feedback and revisions, the film is recorded and assembled before sharing publicly on youtube. This film was selected in the top ten at Skills Alberta online in May this year!
This music video was created by the student from the ground up, including the hilarious lyrics & music, performance & recording. The result represents a project submission for Media Arts class, but it also serves as a delightful exemplar of originality and creativity. Given the opportunity to create, students will often surprise us with their capabilities!
The RockyTalks - RVSLA Connect Summit 2020 features the stories, speeches and videos created by the students in the RVS Leadership Academy. This series showcases a variety of themes and styles to communicate the presenters' messages.
As the school year approaches summer, schools are going to be creative in how the celebrate and exhibit the learning from the year, especially learning from home! In order for us to design engaging programmes for our communities, we recommend a workflow that invites home-made videos from the community, such as speeches, presentations, addresses, testimonials & performances, then assembling the content into a video programme, and sharing the virtual celebration on school YouTube Channels and social media.
Check out these Practice Guides to help you create meaningful and purposeful virtual video programmes to share with your audience:
Rocky View Schools