SkirtsAfire Festival – “Ayita” Leadership Workshops
We are so thankful for the generosity of Field Law, and the support SkirtsAfire was given for our 10th Anniversary festival as we brought a powerful Indigenous Woman’s story to life.
Our MainStage production of “Ayita” by Teneil Whiskeyjack told a modern-day creation story through a fusion of theatre and Indigenous contemporary dance. It focused on a matrilineal line of women who transcend their personal pain, and step into healing and liberation. Our goal was to make this story, and its coinciding workshops, as accessible as possible. Thanks to Field Law, we were able to invite Indigenous folks to attend the show at no cost, and our public workshop was offered as pay-what-you-can. This ensured accessibility to Indigenous communities, breaking down financial barriers, enabling them to see and feel their own experiences, cultures and stories onstage. Another important community we wanted to experience the play and workshops without barriers was Indigenous youth. We were able to invite 13 schools to attend “Ayita,” with a total number of 170, mostly Indigenous, students from all walks of life to watch and engage with this production. We also partnered with the Braided Journeys Program, VIDEA Victoria, and Canada Corps to bring 14 young Indigenous women to the workshop run by Lana Whiskeyjack: “A Return to Womanhood, the Transition into the Prophesied Time for Women as Leaders.”
Without the support of Field Law, we would not have been able to make “Ayita” as accessible as it was. We believe that art should be something all folks get to witness and interact with, regardless of financial barriers, especially with a piece that resonates and carries positive impact for communities in need of healing. We can already see the ripple effect among communities it touched and individuals it impacted. Thank you again to Field Law for your generosity, and for helping to make a difference in our community. Below are some examples of how your support affected so many.
I wanted to express my deepest gratitude to Field Law. Your organization has assisted me in fulfilling a story deeply connected to my Indigenous roots as a Cree woman and share it with audiences. It was a story of healing, liberation and revitalized language and personal sovereignty of one’s own truth. The feedback from audiences said that it was the medicine people need in these times. Without the support from Field Law, this profound story wouldn’t have reached and opened people’s minds and hearts like it did. Not only that, but it opened new doors for me as an artist to create land-based and heart led work through the experiences of working on the production of Ayita. It also supported SkirtsAfire Festival to have Indigenous community members and youth witness this story and left the youth with thought-provoking questions to ponder afterwards. The works of theatre are vital to our humanity and where we are going as a community. We couldn’t do the work to full capacity without the assistance of supports like Field Law believing in the arts. The experience of Ayita will never leave my being, it only ignited something much deeper to share with the world through my message and artistry.
– With gratitude and respect, Teneil Whiskeyjack, Playwright/Creator of Ayita
The play moved me to the brink of tears. It triggered the intergenerational wisdom and the blood memory we carry as nêhiyaw iskwêwak. I left feeling emotional, yet empowered. Thank you.
– Youth Engagement Worker, Inner City High School
This experience was a powerful reminder of the Ancestral knowledge and wisdom I carry within. hai hai
– Charis Auger, Teacher, Inner City High School
Last month I was able to go see a play called Ayita by Teneil Whiskeyjack with Inner City. My first theater experience was amazing. I love love loved the most simple use of props and materials, I love how they still had just as much symbolism as whole objects/props would. Teneil has a such strong powerful energy, there was so much emotion. I loved the drums, the Elder speaking at the beginning. I just felt really empowered afterward. My distant friend posted about also seeing and loving the play, and we had a great conversation about it and what we loved, how we wanted to tell other women in our lives about it. It was great, and I hope to see more of Teneil Whiskeyjack’s work in my future!
– Sara, Student, Inner City High School
I liked a lot about the play. What I mostly like is the way of dancing. The way it shows a story even without someone telling the story, you would be able to understand what they are trying to tell us without saying a word. What I also liked was the red silk scarf thing the way it moved with the dancers. I also love the power in the lead’s voice.
– Student, Inner City High School