Saturday, June 21, 2008

Red Lake Woodland Arts Festival: A Tribute to Norval Morrisseau and the Woodland Artists in 13 DAYS!

July 4th-6th, 2008
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* June 21 is National Aboriginal Day, a day for all Canadians to celebrate the cultures and contributions to Canada of First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis peoples *
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De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group
/A participant in the Red Lake Woodland Arts Festival/
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De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group with Daphne Odjig
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The Heritage Centre is thrilled to announce that De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group one of Canada's oldest and most successful Aboriginal theatre companies, will be a major participant in the Red Lake Woodland Arts Festival. Based in Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island, De-ba-jeh-mu-jig, which means "storytellers" in Cree and Ojibway, assists, supports and empowers isolated communities to tell their own stories from their own perspective, primarily through theatre and other art disciplines.

De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group has been delivering outreach and community engagement projects in the First Nations throughout the North since 1997. The partnership with The Red Lake Heritage Centre represents an important advance in cross cultural sharing about Aboriginal people and their distinct world view, with all other Canadians.

The primary goal of the Woodland Arts Festival is to instil pride in Red Lake's Aboriginal culture and history, and to involve and engage our youth in this event. De-ba-jeh-mu-jig, with their experience in working with youth across northern Ontario, will play an important role in accomplishing this by working with local organizations and educators to facilitate the creative vision of emerging youth artists in Red Lake.

Three members of “Debaj”, as the theatre troupe is known to its friends and supporters, recently spent a week in Red Lake researching the roots of Woodland Art in this region. They spent time talking with community members who were present during the sixties and seventies, and who remember Norval Morrisseau and the other artists who were working here at that time. They also toured the area to get a sense of the context that these artists were working out of.

The full company will be returning to Red Lake in the last week of June to spend two weeks working with local youth, both Aboriginal and nonaboriginal. Their goal will be to nurture the artistic talent of the youth, to encourage a sense of pride in the Aboriginal culture and history of this area, and to build bridges between young people of different backgrounds. During the Woodland Arts Festival, Debaj will also be performing a professional theatre presentation about Norval Morrisseau and the Woodland artists, based on their research in Red Lake.

“Norval has inspired and influenced a generation of Aboriginal creators, even within our own company. It is a privilege to be offered the opportunity of animating and explicating the Life of this iconic northern artist who emerged from this remarkable community of Red Lake. I feel it is important to honour where we come from so we can clearly see where we are going, and it is artists like Norval and Daphne Odjig, who have opened the doors for the artists of this generation, to express themselves, and receive acclaim for their innovation and talent.”
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Joe Osawabine, Artistic Director, De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group
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About the Group: De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group was founded by Shirley Cheechoo in the summer of 1984. It was subsequently incorporated under Provincial Charter on September 26, 1986 at West Bay, Manitoulin Island. In 1989, the company moved to the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, also on Manitoulin Island, where it has been located ever since. De-ba-jeh-mu-jig was established in order that Native youth be given the opportunity to see themselves and their lives reflected on the stage, in the characters, in the stories, in the experiences. This mandate dictated that it would be a touring and creation company - nurturing, developing, producing, and disseminating Aboriginal work.
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- For more information go to www.debaj.ca.
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For more information about the Red Lake Woodland Arts Festival go to: www.redlakemuseum.com.
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