An ensemble of eleven Indigenous and allied musicians performed at the matinee show of TREATY: A Reconciliation Revelry at the Sanderson Centre for Performing Arts on Thursday, March 30, 2023.
The concert focuses on varied experiences that take viewers on a journey of history through a multimedia production.
Producer and director, Tim Johnson (known for Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World) of Six Nations of the Grand River, opened the show by speaking about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and its 94 calls to action.
“This concert was designed around this important Canadian history,” he said. “It’s a reflection and creative expression of the Truth and Reconciliation process and is intended to convey impressions of the Indigenous experience and Canada’s history of Indigenous relations.”
“It takes viewers on a journey of varied experiences that leads Canadians through stories of encounter and conflict, to resolution and landing on uplifting notes of recognition, understanding and respect,” he added.
The performance uses video segments of interviews with Indigenous and Canadian leaders, civil society, and those involved in education, culture and the arts as they discuss the definitions of a group of words.
“What’s interesting about language is that words each have their own particular definitions, but their meanings can take on different forms and connotations when associated with certain subject matter such as Indigenous relations,” said Johnson. “In this context, we asked this esteemed group of people to reflect upon the meanings of the following words: treaty, ally, protocol, prejudice, hate, lie, colonization, greed, Indian Act, residential school, truth, reconciliation, peace, love solidarity and wisdom.”
Co-producer Joshua Arden Miller and the award-winning musicians involved chose songs that correspond with the words and themes discussed, and then layered them in-between the video segments of contemporary issues and historical context.
School children and adults in the audience clapped and cheered as Miller, alongside Alan Duffy, Blaine Bomberry, Miles Evans-Branagh and Oren Doxtator kicked off the show with two songs before handing it back over to Johnson and another video segment.
Next up, Rob Lamothe and The Ollivanders spoke briefly about Indigenous history before playing together and switching off back to Miller and his group.
The two groups took turns playing the chosen songs before joining together at the end for a collaboration.
Resident Betty Chaney, thought the show was a powerful expression of the stark reality of Canada’s history.
“The show was important for these young people to be here, and it was important for me to be here because I’m working towards trying to understand better about reconciliation and how I can be an instrument that is going to move our country forward” she said. “I mean, I’m just one person, however I have to be thinking along those lines of how we treat all people with respect.”