This powerful performance is set to take place Sept. 5 as part this year’s Spotlight Special Presentation Series. (Photo contributed)

Vernon’s 2018 Spotlight Series presents Words of Our Chiefs

“A lot of the statements still ring very true today, and it’s also great to understand that perspective in a historical sense but it’s very powerful and raw and important.”

History meets art next week in Vernon when the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society.

Among the performances will be a reading of the Savage Society’s Words of Our Chiefs. The reading is set for Wednesday, Sept. 5 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre as part of this year’s Spotlight Special Presentation Series.

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The Savage Society is set to perform a staged reading of Words of Our Chiefs; a dramatic enactment of the Laurier Memorial, an historical document petitioning Sir Wilfred Laurier by the Allied Chiefs of the Interior Tribes of British Columbia in attempt to recognize and help them fight for aboriginal rights. The document outlines the Aboriginal experience in the B.C. interior since the first contact.

The document, signed by the Secwepemc, Syilx and Nlaka’pamux peoples at Spences Bridge, British Columbia in 1910, has been adapted from community members of Lytton and the Nlaka’pamux Nation. Contributing artists in Words of Our Chiefs include Kevin Loring, Aaron Wells, Kim Harvey, Ron Dean Harris, Sandy Scofield and N’laka’pamux community members.

“It’s basically an assertion of Indigenous sovereignty and they were demanding that their rights be recognized and acknowledged and it’s a very eloquent and beautifully written document about the Indigenous experience,” said Loring. “It utilizes sources like creation stories that talk about hospitality and protocol for visiting people’s territories and they used that to sort of describe the experience of settlers coming into Indigenous territory and slowly taking it over and how that was seen. So I turned that into a play.”

Loring, who is now the Artistic Director of the theatre at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, is also an artist who took this document and made it into a play. Although the play won’t be performed in Vernon this time around — due to resources and time available — Loring said that even just the reading is powerful and moving to many audiences. He asserts that it’s still relevant and something that people should hear today as part of Canadian history.

“The most important part that people need to know is that it’s a piece that it’s the Indigenous perspective of contact and it’s over 100-years-old and it’s still relevant now,” he said. “A lot of the statements still ring very true today, and it’s also great to understand that perspective in a historical sense but it’s very powerful and raw and important.”

The show will be opened by a performance by Mariel Belanger, a Vernon-based multi-disciplinary artist of the Okanagan Nation, Okanagan Indian Band, Vernon. Beginning at 7 p.m. it will last approximately 30 minutes.

Tickets for Words of Our Chiefs are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $15 for students.

Related: Exhibit explores dark part of Canadian history

Related: All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

Related: Longtime Indigenous pro hosts local workshop

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