Building a better nation
‘The Dream Catchers’ challenges Canadians to develop a better country for all
For aspiring actor/singer Kaitlyn Post, “The Dream Catchers” quickly became much more than simply a vehicle to perform.
The show’s content, which challenges audiences to acknowledge the plight of Canada’s indigenous peoples and to collectively work to improve the country as a whole, has opened Post’s heart and eyes.
“I came in pretty blind to all of the things that we’re talking about (in the show), and it’s completely transformed my way of thinking,’’ the 25-yearold native of Sussex, N.B. says while wiping away tears and struggling for composure. Post is white.
She is clearly a visible minority as a member of the 2017 Confederation Centre Young Company. She shares the stage with black, First Nations, Metis and Inuit performers.
Two casts are both comprised of 13 performers drawn from each province and territory.
Post has not only bonded with her cast members, but she has come to feel great empathy for the hardships that have been endured – and continue to be endured – by so many indigenous people in Canada.
She marvels at how fellow performer, Christopher Mejaki, 31, who has experienced his share of pain as a descendant of a residential school survivor, is such a lovely, upbeat person.
“It’s hard to put into words… it’s just overwhelming love,’’ she says of her connection to Mejaki and other Indigenous performers in “The Dream Catchers”.
Mejaki’s dream is to “share my culture and history so that people are informed.’’
Heading into his final year at the National Theatre School of Canada, Mejaki, who is Anishnaabe (Ojibwa) tribe from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve in northern Ontario, is working on writing a one-man show based on his life.
He hopes to capture what can happen to an indigenous family that lives off reserve – he grew up in Peterborough, Ont. – with a single mother who struggles with alcoholism.
Mejaki looks to explore the impact on his mother and on his own upbringing resulting from his grandmother being a survivor of a residential school.
“It trickled down to me,’’ he says.
“It affected me. It’s basically a show about my life and the realities of what it could be like just dealing with discrimination or racism or lack of opportunity or getting dealt a pretty hard deck of cards.’’
For now, he is embracing his multifaceted role in “The Dream Catchers”, from singing to elaborate hoop dancing.
He takes great pride in the show and its powerful message.
Playwright and arts educator, Mary Francis Moore, was part of a creative team, including Indigenous artists Nick Huard and Watio Splicer, that travelled across the country in February and March to work with young people in each province and territory, exploring their dreams for the future, with a focus toward the environment, inclusion and reconciliation.
Moore was charged with writing a show based on her experiences.
The result is “The Dream Catcher”, an honest, thoughtprovoking and entertaining production being performed by one cast at noon, Monday to Saturday at the Confederation Centre of the Arts amphitheatre, while a second cast tours the show to several parts of the country.
Moore took great care to strike a palatable tone as the performers sing and speak of dreams and truths with drumming, dancing and even a dazzling bit of hoop dancing providing an upbeat pace to the free show.
“I never wanted it to be a guilt trip,’’ she explains.
“I wanted it to be holding the mirror up and saying ‘we’re
amazing’ and if we can just talk to each other we can be so much more amazing.’’
Moore says she felt tremendous responsibility to articulate what she heard in the many workshops from, among others, First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth.
She believes the show – and the message – resonates with audiences, in part, because young adults are delivering it.
“They are our hope for the future and it doesn’t sound like it’s a lecture,’’ she notes.
“Very consciously for me, the last line of the last song is ‘you will get it right this time’ and then we have the drum beat and I just hope that that resonates with people.’’
Moore has been profoundly impacted by “The Dream Catchers”, which is a multi-faceted Canada 150 Signature project that looks at Canada, the past and the future through the lens of the dreams of the next generation of Canadians.
“I feel like I am completely changed,’’ she says.
“I don’t think anybody who has worked on this project…is the same after it. Our eyes have been open in such a big way that we can only move forward, and I think that will be reflective in our programming here (at the Confederation Centre of the Arts), in the kinds of projects we want to keep developing (and) the stories we want to keep telling.’’
She also believes the project has shown the Young Company performers the power art has to transform.
“I think our First Nations, Metis and Inuit performers,’’ she adds, “are realizing that the rest of the world actually does want to hear what they have to offer and see what they have to share – not just as performers but as individuals.’’
The project has left Moore instilled with a laudable dream.
“I dream that this conversation keeps going and it spreads like wildfire,’’ she says.
“I dream that my children will live in a society where everything that we talk about in this play has been solved. It’s a huge dream but I think we are capable.’’
Christopher Mejaki, a performer in The Dream Catchers, dazzles the crowd with an artistic and athletic hoop dance.
The Confederation Young Company was split into two casts of 13 performers drawn from each province and territory to perform The Dream Catchers in the amphitheatre of the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown and across the country.
Emily Meadows beats a drum - an instrument used to powerful effect in The Dream Catchers.