Indigenous

Festival of ideas curated by Mohawk/Anishinaabe producer aims to bridge communities

Mohawk/Anishinaabe producer Kim Wheeler has brought together a line-up of acclaimed artists to present panels, plays, music and keynote speeches this week in The Bridge: A Festival of Ideas.

Kim Wheeler launches The Bridge with Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre

Mohawk/Anishinaabe curator Kim Wheeler delivers a welcome message at the opening of The Bridge: A Festival of Ideas. (royalmtc.ca)

Mohawk/Anishinaabe producer Kim Wheeler has brought together a line-up of acclaimed artists to present panels, plays, music and keynote speeches this week in The Bridge: A Festival of Ideas.

The free online event at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre aims to offer Indigenous conversations to Canadian audiences and runs March 18-21.

Wheeler said she wanted to make her production easier for audiences to digest and said the experience The Bridge offers is like "being a fly on the wall between two people who have a real understanding of what it's like to be an Indigenous person in this country."

"It's going to give non-Indigenous audiences a real insight into the kinds of conversations that we have with our own friends and family."

Wheeler, a former CBC producer, brought together a network of Indigenous movers and shakers for the event both in front of and behind the scenes.

Saulteaux/Trinidiadian actor Ryan Black was the production co-ordinator for The Bridge. (Ryan Black)

Saulteaux/Trinidiadian actor Ryan Black, best known for his role in the 1994 movie Dance Me Outside, worked alongside Wheeler to co-ordinate an event he hopes will also create a bridge between young people.

"It's digital, it's online, it's connected," said Black.

"We are entering a phase where we are beginning — as theatre people, as journalists, as film and television people —  to reach out into the venues that young people are actually engaging [with]."

Frances Koncan hosted a panel on Theatre Matriarchs during the The Bridge: A Festival of Ideas. (Submitted by Riva Billows)

Anishinaabe playwright Frances Koncan hosted a panel called Theatre Matriarchs, the first up on the schedule.

In an interview with CBC Radio's Up to Speed, Koncan said her biggest takeaway from it was "we've come really, really far, in theatre especially, but I think it can extend to . . . Canada as a whole."

The Bridge: A Festival of Ideas is available for free in Canada and the productions are captioned for accessibility to the deaf community.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Francine Compton is the Assignment Producer for CBC Indigenous. She is Anishinaabe from the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation in Manitoba. Before joining CBC she was the executive producer of national news at APTN. You can find her on Twitter @FrancineCompton

with files from CBC Radio's Up to Speed

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