Tekaronhiáhkhwa Santee Smith’s
Sewatonhna ren – May Your Spirit be Well
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Afternoon Performance: 2pm
Evening Performance: 7pm
Suggested admission: $10 per person
The Art Gallery of Guelph is honoured to present two performances of Sewatonhna ren – May Your Spirit be Well by choreographer and dancer Tekaronhiáhkhwa Santee Smith with feature artists Semiah Smith, Julianne Blackbird and Montana Summers. This powerful production acknowledges the lives of Mohawk Institute Residential School students by symbolically offering past students what they did not receive: love, caring, tenderness, nourishment, cultural knowledge and language. It is a response to the residential school experience, an embodied way to feed the hunger of their spirits and to say: “kwè:iahre – we remember you, kwanorónhkhwa – we love you and tenkwáhsnie – we will care for you”.
Tekaronhiáhkhwa Santee Smith is from Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario. She is a mother, multi-disciplinary artist, and award-winning producer, choreographer and Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director. She holds performance in a sacred space, as all life is sacred. Santee maintains an Onkwehon:we understanding of performance, the body and role of artist: music and dance are celebrations of life; the body is a vessel to house our spirit during our earth walk and the artist as a storyteller, transformer and medicine person. From this perspective her work speaks about identity and humanity in relation to the creative universe.
The Mohawk Institute was built in Brantford in 1904, in the same year as the Macdonald Consolidated School (the building that is now home to the AGG). These two buildings have an identical red brick construction, a columned front porch facade, and architectural footprint; however, each was built with a distinct and separate educational, political, and cultural agenda. The Mohawk Institute had a mandate for the “aggressive civilization” of Indigenous peoples, including forced segregation and assimilation, the eradication of Native languages, and indoctrination to colonial culture and religion, achieved through an abusive “educational” system. The Macdonald Consolidated School was established as Ontario’s first public school, a day school for rural children.
Sewatonhna ren – May Your Spirit be Well is presented as the closing program of 150 Acts: Arts, Activism, Impact