Indigenous woman comes full circle as artistic director of the Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre
Jennifer Dawn Bishop wants to reach out to Indigenous youth
Jennifer Dawn Bishop has come full circle, from a shy 13-year-old girl to one of the youngest artistic directors in Canada, in charge of the theatre program where it all began.
I had no idea about the cultural aspect of my background.- Jennifer Dawn Bishop
In an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning, Bishop recalled that day in 1999 when the manager of what was then the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company came into the classroom.
"This captures my interest and what do I have left to lose? So I thought I would give it a try," Bishop said.
The brand new theatre program Circle of Voices, not only offered a chance for young Indigenous children to perform and find their artistic voice, it also encouraged them to explore get in contact with their roots.
"I had no idea about the cultural aspect of my background," Bishop said.
In fact, when she filled out the application for Circle of Voices she had to ask her mother which box to check, and that's when she discovered her family's Métis heritage.
"I had so many questions and it was just unbelievable that this was something that's always been a part of me and had never been brought forth."
New challenges ahead
Now, 20 years later, Bishop is the artistic director for what is now the Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre, and facing challenges like directing the theatre's production of Vegas Vacation a Rez Christmas Story.
"It's something new that I never thought I would get to experience and it's got so many things about it that makes you scared and also excited," she said.
Bishop is also now just beginning to think about ways to put her own stamp on the theatre program and to look for new ways of reaching out to Indigenous youth.
"We have our social media; we have word of mouth which has always worked great for us."
with files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning