Our commitment to Reconciliation

Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan (SOTS) would like to acknowledge the original peoples of this land and recognize that we are grateful that the site in which we currently reside is on Treaty 6 territory, the traditional territory of several First Nations and the homeland of the Métis Nation. In an era of truth and reconciliation SOTS is engaged in artistic programming and partnerships which bridge cultures and engage in reconciliation.  An important part of this is incorporating and reflecting this in our new development and then sharing that space with the entire community and through our arts and culture initiatives.

SOTS is a member of Reconciliation Saskatoon and a key player in Saskatoon’s Winter City Strategy.  In January 2019, with support from a Winter City YXE grant, we facilitated the production of an artistic project on our site called pimohtewak.

pimohtewak featured the stories of Joseph Naytowhow played to individual audience members on an iPhone app as they explored four locations on our site in the four directions of the Neyhiyaw (Cree) people.  The app programming and dramaturgy was by Torien Cafferata (Not A Box Theatre), artistic installations by Amberlin Hsu and lighting by Byron Hnatuk (supplied by Production Lighting).  The entire project was creatively in the hands of the artists, as such SOTS role in the project was only facilitator and space provider. To this end, SOTS is committed to engaging in partnerships which engage and provide opportunity with the original peoples of this land and recognize Treaty 6 territory.

Indigenous* Engagement in Staging the Future

*Note: it is important to understand that the term “Indigenous” in this sense includes First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

In February 2019, shortly after the completion of this performance project, SOTS engaged Joseph Naytowhow as an Indigenous Cultural Advisor.  SOTS staff, Group 2 (Architects) PCL (Construction Manager), and build committee met with Joseph on February 1st.  Joseph lead the discussion by: introducing the four Sacred Directions (teaching Cree names & purposes); recommending a series of Feasts open to the public, and a ceremony paying respect to the land, animals, and all that came before us; hanging flags in the four sacred directions (appropriate colours in each direction) during construction build, and a sweat SOTS staff. Joseph was an integral part of two 3-hour workshops led by Group 2 (Present: SOTS staff, Artists, City of Saskatoon key consultants, third party partner, landscape architects, volunteers, etc.). These workshops developed core project values, how to serve SOTS & Saskatoon community and design/layout options for amphitheatre & site.

SOTS, Group 2 (our Architects) and PCL (Construction Managers) also consulted with Joseph regarding his idea for a “quiet contemplation area” at the South end of the development that could be a place for smudging or ceremony.  Soon after these early first steps, SOTS began building a relationship with the Saskatoon Tribal Council with an introduction by our partners at Nutrien that included an invitation to a pipe ceremony. A short time later we also invited Gabriel Dumont Institute to our group to add a Metis voice to the conversation.  We have further engaged with Metis Nation of Saskatchewan Western Region 2A, Gabriel Dumont Local 11, CUMFI and Thundrechild First Nation.  Finally, through our ongoing work as a member of Reconciliation Saskatoon, we also consulted a local group of Residential School and 60s Scoop Survivors.  We will continue to listen to all of these voices to help us learn how we can make our redeveloped site more inclusive of all Indigenous perspectives and more welcoming to members of the local Indigenous community. 

Contemplation Circle and
Indigenous Interpretive panels

Contemplation Circle

The quiet contemplation area has been named the Contemplation Circle and was completed in the fall of 2020.  Joseph performed a quiet dedication of the circle with SOTS staff, and a more public celebration of this installation will occur when restrictions allow.  The Contemplation Circle features the words for welcome in the Indigenous languages of Treaty 6 Territory.

Indigenous Interpretive Panels

In September of 2023, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan is planning to unveil the Indigenous Interpretive Panels, which will be located east of the Contemplation Circle. Please check back regularly for further updates.

The Memorandums of Understanding

The MOUs with the Saskatoon Tribal Council and Gabriel Dumont Institute outline the four key areas of collaboration with our Indigenous partners: 

1. Efforts to make the site more welcoming to all Indigenous people in Saskatchewan.  This has included design approaches, artwork, naming, programming, and other strategies.

2. An exploration of Indigenous Art opportunities to feature in our central courtyard. 

3. Consultations regarding interpretive installations and educational elements on the site to educate the public about the original Indigenous peoples of this area before it was known as Saskatchewan.**

**Item 3 and the completed Contemplation Circle are financially supported by Nutrien.

We are responding to and working towards implementing the following Truth and Reconciliation Commision's Call to Action

#79 which addresses Commemoration, and explicitly calls the ‘…arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration.’ As well as clearly stating that the arts community, ‘…integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.’ It’s a priority that our site will reflect a sense of place and history as well as a sharing of space. We are committed to this and we are honoured to have Joseph Naytowhow as our Cultural Advisor to guide us in protocol, honouring the history of the land, & creating a space that incorporates Indigenous ceremony and cultural practices.

#92 which addresses Business and Reconciliation, while SOTS does not fall under the corporate sector, we do feel a responsibility to respond and implement point, ‘i. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.’ SOTS is also committed to meaningful partnerships & consultations through our partnerships with Saskatoon Tribal Council, Gabriel Dumont Institute and Reconciliation Saskatoon led by Gilles Dorval, Director of Aboriginal Relations, City of Saskatoon.

Let's continue the Dialogue

We are all Treaty people. To learn more about Indigenous stories, culture and Reconciliation in our community, please check out the following resources and organizations:

Reconciliation Saskatoon

Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon Public Library

Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre

Office of the Treaty Commissioner

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action

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