Performance makes Truth & Reconciliation local

Vera Wabegijig’s poetry celebrated by Cantabile Choir 

North Star will be performed at The Spire on Nov. 3.

Reconciliation will be taking center stage at the Cantabile Choir performance this weekend. 

The choir will be hosting the North Star performance at The Spire on Nov. 3, 2018 to address truth and reconciliation in Canada. 

Featuring The Children’s Choir, Young Women, Young Men, Men’s Choir and Women’s Chorus accompanied by an ensemble of flute, oboe, violin, cello, bass, percussion and pianists Michel Szczesniak and Clare Miller, The Cantabile Choirs will transform the poetry of Vera Wabegijig into song.  

North Star was created to pay homage to Indigenous peoples in Canada. First commissioned as part of the Canada 150 celebration, it recently won Choral Canada’s Outstanding Choral Composition of 2018. 

The evening will focus heavily on the topic of Indigenous history through music and poetry, demonstrating the power of art as a healing tool. It’s meant to bring community attention to the ways Canadian people can work towards reconciliation in small ways. 

On a local scale, community organizations and art-lovers can support events—like the North Star Choir’s performance—that showcase Indigenous artists and their work. They can do this by sharing their own platforms with Indigenous artists in the way Cantabile Choir working with the North Star Choir. 

“North Star evokes truth and reconciliation as it represents the beauty and evocation of the Indigenous peoples through music and poetry,” Sirett said.

The works of Vera Wabegijig are expected to be a highlight of the evening. 

Wabejig is an Indigenous artist and poet from the Mississauga First Nation and Wikwemikong 

Unceded Reserve. She was the recipient of the Louis Armstrong Literary Award and has received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, and the First Peoples Cultural Foundation. 

Wabegijig’s poetry explores themes of land, resistance, and identity. Her commitment to reconciliation is clear in her words.  In her poem “Words of my ancestors,” she writes “they passed on knowledge/and the strength in knowledge/knowledge that digs into the earth taking root.”

Alongside the works of Wabegijig will be other contemporary Canadian artists in both music and poetry. The poetry of Mohawk author Pauline Johnson and Inuit poet Rae Witvoet will be set to music composed by Sarah Quartel, Mishaai Surti, and Kelly-Marie Murphy.  

“North Star reinforces the statement and intention behind reconciliation by paying tribute to Indigenous friends … through music,” Director of North Star Mark Sirett told The Journal in a phone interview. 

The performance in Kingston is a meaningful step towards reconciliation. North Star brings together artistic expression of Indigenous culture for the Kingston community. 

With over 250 people involved, both young and old, North Star is a hopeful sign for reconciliation as more and more people become committed to meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples.  

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