The story of IPAA & CAPACOA’s collaboration

Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance [IPAA] leader Cole Alvis was invited to participate in a leadership retreat hosted by CAPACOA in May 2015 shortly following the Talking Stick Festival Industry Series in Vancouver where the Indigenous performance community and our partners were galvanized to create an Indigenous Performance Network.

CAPACOA leader Sue Urquhart was inspired by Cole’s work at IPAA and they forged a longterm collaboration with shared leadership and respect for local Indigenous protocols as a framework.

What follows is a release from CAPACOA about this partnership.

It Matters

CAPACOA – September 27, 2016 – The Truth and Reconciliation Commission marked a critical moment in Canadian history with the release of 94 Calls to Action. It prompted each one of us to take action and to establish new relationships. Many initiatives have since taken root in the performing arts sector.

Here’s an overview of key initiatives within the presenting sector, under the leadership of the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance (IPAA) and partner organizations.

Featuring Host Nations

A series of Host Nations Conversations is unfolding at conferences across the country. Their aim is to provide an understanding and help mainstream presenters situate themselves on the traditional territories of this land. These sessions are two-fold. In the first half, members of the Host Nations discuss their relationship with the territory we live on or visit. In the second half, Indigenous artists provide a framework for developing respectful engagement, building relationships and creating equitable collaboration with the Indigenous performing arts community.


Participants at the Host Nations Conversations at Contact East in Saint John, NB.
Participants at the Host Nations Conversations at Contact East in Saint John, NB.


The framework for a Host Nations Conversation began with Indigenous Protocols and Performance PhD graduate Mique’l Dangeli (Tsimsian) collaborating with Margo Kane (Cree-Saulteaux) the Artistic and Managing Director of Full Circle First Nations Performance during the 2015 Talking Stick Festival Industry Series. Indigenous leaders from the Host Nations of what is now called Vancouver were instrumental in the development of this framework, including the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səlíw lwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

(L-R) Mi'kmaq Elder Hubert Francis, Cole Alvis, Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier), Red Suga, Wolastoqiyik Elder Maggie Paul, Nipahtuwet Naka Wespahtuwet Possesson, Sue Urquhart, and Tristan Grant.
(L-R) Mi’kmaq Elder Hubert Francis, Cole Alvis, Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier), Red Suga, Wolastoqiyik Elder Maggie Paul, Nipahtuwet Naka Wespahtuwet Possesson, Sue Urquhart, and Tristan Grant.
In consultation with Mique’l Dangeli and CAPACOA Board Member/IPAA Grand Council member Margo Kane, IPAA and CAPACOA collaborated on a Host Nations Conversation in Ottawa during the 2015 CAPACOA conference at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health on unceded Algonquin territory. It featured Algonquin artists from the Kitigan Zibi First Nations including Albert Dumont, Annie Smith St-Georges and Samantha Tenasco as well as Indigenous performing artists Jaime Koebel (Métis/Cree), JP Longboat (Mohawk) and Melody McKiver (Anishinaabe). This conversation was followed by a showcase from Artic Canada’s first ever Juno Award winning Inuk singer/songwriter Susan Aglukark, and it was deemed a highlight of the conference by all participants.

Another successful Host Nations Conversation took place on September 22, in Saint John, New Brunswick, this time as part of Contact East. It featured Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) and Mi’kmaq Elders and artistic leaders followed by a showcase featuring a hip-hop artist from Pabineau First Nation named Red Suga.

The next Host Nations Conversation will be presented at Ontario Contact, on November 2, 2016, in Peterborough. More Host Nations Conversations will be announced soon.

CAPACOA and IPAA acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada towards the Host Nations Conversations.

Gathering in the Yukon

The Intertribal Gathering is IPAA’s event that travels to different communities each year. On October 1-3, 2016, a CAPACOA lead presenter delegation will attend the 4th Intertribal Gathering in Dakwäkäda (Haines Junction, Yukon), traditional and self-governed territories of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. Local artists will be featured in an Indigenous performance showcase, which will spotlight Indigenous leaders in the region and encourage national artistic leaders to connect about the work emerging across Turtle Island (North America).

CAPACOA and IPAA acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts towards this gathering.

Open-Heart Professional Development

CAPACOA, IPAA and Ontario Presents are currently undertaking an Indigenous Performance Presentation Initiative. Details about this initiative will be announced on November 2, 2016, at Ontario Contact.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is funding this development of pathways for successful relationship building between Indigenous artistic leaders and the performing arts presenters living and working on Indigenous lands and waterways.

Press about the partnership

Indigenous groups matched with other arts group via new partnership