Material Witness

mwApril 29th at 7pm at West Ferris Secondary School, 60 Marshall Park Drive. Pay-What-U-Can. All Welcome!

Aanmitaagzi has partnered with Spiderwoman Theater of New York to co-produce the multi-disciplinary theatre work Material Witness. This project brings together three generations of performers to share and explore their stories of violence against Aboriginal women. Their shared approach embraces art and stories created by, for, and about their families and communities in a multigenerational context. Development phases for Material Witness took place at Big Medicine Studio in Nipissing First Nation in 2012, at the historic LaMaMa Theater in New York City in 2013, in Nipissing again 2014, and at the Red House Centre for the Arts in Syracuse, New York in 2015. Community-engaged workshops, led by Sid Bobb, Penny Couchie and their artist team, were held in all locations, and two four foot by eight foot Story Quilts were created for the performance with the communities of Nipissing First Nation in Ontario and Onondaga Nation in New York. This multi-faceted project has led to inter-nation, multi-disciplinary and community focused art making and dialogue that brings us all together as a community to examine and address the dark legacy of violence against women.

Aanmitaagzi is a professional Indigenous multi-arts company from Nipissing First Nation, ON. Linked to provincial, national and international networks, Aanmitaagzi combines art making, education, professional development & social activism. We investigate and create contemporary arts in relationship to historic indigenous arts and worldview. Much of our activities incorporate the indigenous legacy of intergenerational art making which engages professional artists and community. Aanmitaagzi provides educational, land based, and community focused arts activities by producing arts festivals, dance theatre productions, and projects, which activate these historic practices in meaningful ways.

New York City’s Spiderwoman Theater is the longest running Native American women’s theater company in the US and perhaps the world. Founded in 1976, they provide unique theater production, training and education which address critical cultural, social and political issues of concern to the Indigenous, Two Spirit and women’s communities. Their work bridges traditional expression and contemporary performance practice. The year 2016 marks the 40th Anniversary of Spiderwoman Theater and it is fitting that they should be celebrating with the premiere of Material Witness, a project inspired by their first production, Women in Violence.


Material Witness: Pulling Threads

pllingthreads_web Aanmitaagzi with Spider Woman Theatre presents: Pulling Threads, A series of Fabric Workshops as part of Material Witness.

Material Witness is a play that explores violence, healing and renewal in the lives of Indigenous women. The set is a “story-quilt”, a layered landscape of fabrics, of heaps, piles and bundles that holds stories and supports the stories of the women on stage. Each person in the workshop will build a layered piece of the “story-quilt” – her story will be the essence of the piece that she creates. This piece will be sewn/woven into the larger quilt and will travel with the production wherever it goes.

We provide the fabric and the accessories.
Please bring your own fabric if you wish to donate a personal piece.
Come and enjoy some food, some talk and some laughter!

Tuesday April 19, 7-10 pm
Big Medicine Studio

Thursday April 21, 7-10 pm
Big Medicine Studio

Friday April 22, 10-4 pm Fabric Workshop
Temagami (Venue TBA)

Print out this Invitation Fabric Workshop flyer and put it up in your space. :)

~The Serpent People~

aan02Ice Follies 2016

Serpent People
This year, Aanmitaagzi’s project, Serpent People, will engage with Ice Follies. Serpent People is a unique multi year community engaged project.  Artists of Aanmitaagzi and community have been researching, developing and creating art in and around historic Indigenous serpent stories and figures. Aanmitaagzi will be presenting works from Serpent People and holding Open Studio workshops throughout the festival.

This is the first year of this multi-platform project. Over three years the project will include partnerships / collaborations, community-engaged workshops, intensives and site-specificart events. These workshops and events will culminate in a full-scale community engaged dance theatre production in 2018.

Serpent People is inspired by an historic Anishinaabe story, The Black Sturgeon, from this area shared by Aanmitaagzi artist, Perry Mcleod-Shabogeesic. Like many of our stories, this project provides an opportunity to gather, reflect and express our stories and imaginings through art-making. During the festival Aanmitaagzi will present works from Serpent People:

  • A performance at the festival opening
  • Installations
  • Open Studio: Community-engaged workshops @ Big Medicine Studio
  • Story Telling Event

Open Studio Workshops at Big Medicine Studio
February 1st – 4th (Monday – Thursday) & 8th – 12th,  from 6-8:30pm
Please note both Wednesday’s will be Big Drum nights. These open studio workshops invite community to join Aanmitaagzi in the creation of installations, giant puppets and performance. All welcome.

Wednesday Nights, from 6:30-8:30pm
Each Week,  POW WOW JAM (all ages and abilities) w/ Tasheena Sarazin & Darren Nakogee

Pathways: Taking place at White Water Gallery 122 Main St E.
Pathways, an installation by Cristina Lella, engages with Aanmitaagzi, Serpent People and community, exploring relationship to local routes and pathways. These open workshops will continue until the festival opening.

Performance: February 13th @ 6pm,
During the Ice Follies Festival Opening, (5:30-7:30pm) at the Waterfront Marina, Memorial Drive, Components from weekly community engaged workshops lead by Aanmitaagzi artists will feed into the performance. In a collaborative creation process, Aanmitaagzi artists and community will perform these works together. Serpent / Black Sturgeon Puppets. Aanmitaagzi will be creating two giant puppets. Installation will also be created in collaboration with Aanmitaagzi artists and community.

Aanmitaagzi Artists
Penny Couchie / Co-AD– Choreography, direction, performer and installation.
Sid Bobb / Co-AD – Story-telling, direction, performer and installation.
Eva Couchie – Guest Artist, installation.
Cristina Lella – Installation, performer.
Meg Paulin – Installation, and performer.
Darren Nakogee – Singier, performer, and installation.
Tasheena Sarazin – Singer / Performer
Clayton Windatt – Multi-media, performer and installation.

New Fall Workshops 2015

aan02~The Serpent People~

Aanmitaagzi is excited to invite the community to explore their newest work “The Serpent People” (working title), based on a regional story about the black sturgeon of the Manitou Islands: a story of transformation, change, consumption and loss within the individual, family, and community.

Through dance, theatre, mask making, installation, painting, drawing, writing, soundscape, and music, we will explore questions like:

  • How does what we consume transform us?
  • What is the nature of what we take in?
  • What lurks in our shadows?
  • What are we running from?
  • What are we running towards?

Material developed in these workshops will contribute to Aanmitaagzi’s production of “The Serpent People” on Lake Nipissing for Ice Follies 2016 in February.

aan01You’re invited…

Drop in for a tea. Stay and Explore.

Monday 7 – 9 pm

Big Medicine Studio

DANCE (ages 16+)

w/ Penny Couchie & live drum accompaniment by Rob Joanisse

Tuesday 330 – 5 pm



Tuesday 7 – 9 pm

Big Medicine Studio


w/ Sid Bobb, Penny Couchie & invited guest artists


VISUAL ARTS (all ages and abilities)

w/ Megan Paulin & invited guest artists

Wednesday 630 – 830 pm

Big Medicine Studio

POW WOW JAM ( all ages and abilities)

w/ Tasheena Sarazin

Thursday 7 – 9 pm

Big Medicine Studio


w/ Cristina Lella & Penny Couchie

…More to be announced!


A Side of Dreams


Presenting September 7th at 3pm “A Side of Dreams” by Paper Canoe Project. General admission $10 at the door. All welcome!

Description: Loss of culture and generational trauma can silence the best of us. But as one single mother discovers, the spirit of the Dreamcatcher can be awakened with prayer and the ancestors you meet in the world of dreams may not be what you expected. Written by seasoned artist, Jani Lauzon, A Side of Dreams is a multi-disciplinary theatre experience incorporating aeral hoop, puppetry, sound design, music, visual imagery and text.

With the help of Spiderwoman weaving her web, Haisa, (Jani Lauzon) a troubled and silent Métis mother awakens the spirit of the Dreamcatcher where Haisa meets multi-generational ancestors who help her face the truth of family secrets and ancestral/community violence so that she may regain her voice and reconcile with her angry and isolated daughter Aina (Jessica Barrera).

DSC_2081smallIn the world of dreams, in this land of subconscious reality, Haisa appears as a Banraku puppet, brilliantly manipulated by award winning puppeteer Trish Leeper with Jessica Barrera as her assistant. There she meets a mythical dragon, a Northern Boat man and both Haisa and her daughter Aina face the truth behind the death of Haisa’s mother Katherine.

Upon her return, Haisa not only calls her daughters name for ASOD-Press-Release-NB02the first time in years but is able to complete the making of the Dreamcatcher and teach her daughter the first few steps of the dance, wise advise given to her by one of her ancestors.

Running at 55 minutes, A Side of Dreams will appeal to young audiences as well as grown-ups, ending in a joyful message of reconciliation and the power of regaining one’s voice, as well as the importance of embracing ancestral memory. The journey incorporates an exquisite score composed by award winning composer Marsha Coffey (with Lauzon), and a beautifully executed projection design by Melissa Joakim.
The Side of Dreams gratefully 609smallacknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council, National Arts Centre, Canada Council for the Arts, Arcadia Co-op, Thunderbird Centre/Miziwe Biik Employment & Training and AC Mechanical Contractors Ltd. Paper Canoe Projects 19 Gates Ave. Toronto, ON M4C 1T1