Three Indigenous women have joined together to create and perform Journey the Canoe, a play that reclaims traditional birthing practices and explores the performers’ own birth stories. It premieres at Nozhem First Peoples Performance Space at Trent University at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (January 27 and 28).
Urpi Pine (Mi’kmaq/Quechua), Kerry Bebee (Michi-Sagiig Anishinaabe), and Mapu Graner (Mapuche/Quechua) are performers, artists, mothers, aunts, midwives, or maternal/child health workers. They are members of the Beautiful Canoe Collective.
“The Beautiful Canoe Collective’s name is inspired by Mohawk midwife, Elder, and community activist Katsi Cook who speaks about how, in the Mohawk culture, there is a way of talking about the vulva as the ‘nice canoe’,” reads a media release. “The Collective explores this metaphorical ‘canoe’ as carrying seeds of creation (physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental) and as a ‘vessel’ that allows for the journey of a new life (birth).
In Journey the Canoe, the Beautiful Canoe Collective uses Indigenous storytelling methods to reclaim birthing narratives, rediscover traditional birthing stories, practices, and ceremonies, and to educate Indigenous peoples and communities about reconnecting to traditional birthing practices. The 45-minute play includes themes of loss, colonization, trauma, adoption, medicalization, personal and spiritual power, motherhood, and radical love and healing.
Completed in 2021, Journey the Canoe was co-authored by Lena Recollet (Anishinaabe) with professional guidance from Ange Loft (Mohawk). For the Nozhem First Peoples Performance Space production, Jenn Cole (mixed ancestry Algonquin Anishinaabe) is artistic director and producer and William Kingfisher (Anishinaabe) is associate artistic producer.
The Beautiful Canoe Collective will perform Journey the Canoe at 7 p.m. on January 27 and 28 at Nozhem First Peoples Performance Space (Room 101, Enwayaang Building, 1 Gzowski Way, Peterborough). Admission is pay what you can (cash only) at the door.
To reserve a seat, visit eventbrite.ca/e/510879041967. Note that audience members are required to wear masks for each performance.