The Atlantic Presenters Association recognizes the deep importance of the work and actions the organization must take towards Reconciliation with Indigenous people all over Turtle Island/North America.
We understand in our hearts that it is our social responsibility to prioritize and never lose sight of Reconciliation in every aspect of what we do. It is deeply important to the staff and board of APA that we continue to move the membership along in their knowledge too.
What we’re doing
Since 2016, APA has engaged Indigenous artists, presenters, producers, directors and facilitators to deliver education activities to our members on topics under the umbrella of Reconciliation. The performance stages of our members across the Atlantic region have programmed Indigenous artists for many years, but very few. We recognize that this needs to change.
APA has assembled a group of 35 Indigenous community based presenters in the region; general event and powwow, and provides funding for these annual gatherings. These gatherings until now have been organized and administered by APA staff, who do not identify as Indigenous. For the 2022 Gathering, we contracted First Light Centre for Performance and Creativity (an organization that serves the urban and non-urban Indigenous populations and non-Indigenous communities alike with a wide range of programs and services rooted in revitalization, strengthening and celebration of Indigenous cultures and languages) in St. John’s NL, who provided the staff and space to organize and host the gathering. APA assisted as needed and supported the gathering financially, but actively stepped back to make space for Indigenous people to decide how they wanted to gather.
In 2022 funding was made available to support increased autonomy for the Indigenous Presenter Program within APA’s organization – Indigenous program, Indigenous run. We were able to hire Brit Johnson to fully manage the program.
Brit Johnston (she/her) is the Indigenous Presenters Program Coordinator. Brit is an artist, creative producer, and community activator from Genabaajing Anishinaabek/Serpent River First Nation, ON. She specializes in festival/events, production management, and community engagement best practices. She has worked with notable performing arts organizations including CAPACOA, NAC Indigenous Theatre, Prismatic Arts Festival, Indigenous Music Summit, and Ottawa Fringe. Rooted in her Anishinaabe culture, Brit is passionate about uplifting Indigenous voices and facilitating meaningful connections between artists, organizations, and communities.
The Indigenous Presenters Program (IPP) hosts Indigenous arts and culture presenters, event producers, and arts leaders from all across the Atlantic coast. The vision of IPP is to empower regional Indigenous communities to cultivate an Indigenous-led network to uplift Indigenous artists working in dance, music, theatre and creative arts. Indigenous leaders gather throughout the year to connect, exchange, and discuss the challenges and best practices for building touring networks within and between their communities, as well as to envision a future that celebrates Indigenous arts and culture in Atlantic Canada.
The third annual Atlantic Indigenous Presenters Gathering took place at Neptune Theatre in Kjupuktuk/Halifax, Mi’kma’ki/NS, in May 2023. The gathering was hosted by the Atlantic Presenters Association (APA), in partnership with the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance (IPAA), and the Canadian Association for the Performing Arts (CAPACOA).
Brit also hosted a group of Atlantic Indigenous event producers and managers on behalf of APA during the 2023 Contact East conference in Woody Point, Ktaqmkuk (NL).
IPP is graciously supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Province of Nova Scotia.
This is # 57 of the 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action:
We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills- based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
We were honoured to have Brit join the APA team this past Spring when she offered her professional development workshop, Reconciliation in Action: Building Good Relations, to our members in three Atlantic provinces (PE, NL, and NS). This is the description of the session Brit delivered throughout the region in March 2023.
Reconciliation requires action. It’s great to be an ally to your Indigenous friends and peers but it’s even better to be their arm-in-arm accomplice. This workshop is for Canadian performing arts presenters, managers, and other arts workers who are committed to learning better practices for building meaningful and long-lasting good relations with local Indigenous artists, elders, and communities.
What can you expect from this professional development workshop? The full-day activities will include formal presentations as well as collaborative group work. Listen and learn how community connections are being nurtured and sustained; you will come away with new tools and actionable ideals to consider in your personal journey as an ally to the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island.
Contact East 2023
Instead of a standard land acknowledgement at the opening of Contact East 2023, APA engaged Indigenous artists to create an original land based opening performance. Delegates travelled by bus to the Tablelands, in Gros Morne, and witnessed words spoken in Mi’kmaq by Lloyd Prosper, a song in Mi’kmaq and drumming by Jenelle Duval and a movement piece by Sarah Prosper. In the wind and rain, facing a sublime and ageless backdrop of trees, rocks, water and mountains we shared in the connection to the land embodied by these artists.
APA will endeavour to make Indigenous directed and created content an integral part of the beginning of every Contact East conference, in a respectful, impactful way that honours both the people of the land and the land itself.
Our ongoing commitments
APA commits to continuing to prioritize presenter education on Reconciliation with a focus on how to respectfully welcome and work with Indigenous performers.
APA commits to stepping back whenever there is a need to Indigenize a program or event that is a part of our organization and hire an Indigenous person to do that work.
APA commits to continuing to view the way we work and build relationships through a Reconciliation lens.
Learning and moving forward
We invite you to engage in an open dialogue with us, and share your questions and comments, especially if we are doing something that is causing harm. We want to do better. We will continue to prioritize Reconciliation knowledge and action within the APA as an ongoing journey that is everyone’s responsibility.