Her Moccasins Talk: Activism, Resistance and Resilience

In Conversation with Buffy Sainte-Marie, Santee Smith, Denise Bolduc and Allison Fisher

Saturday 9 September

2:00 PM

Cairns Recital Hall

In Conversation with Buffy Sainte-Marie, Santee Smith, Allison Fisher and Denise Bolduc, four notable Indigenous women whose lives and work have been rooted in activism, resistance and resilience.

Buffy Sainte-Marie 

Buffy Sainte-Marie is the iconic singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, social activist, philanthropist, visual artist from the Cree tribe of Piapot Reserve, SK. A pioneering and influential singer-songwriter, Buffy Sainte-Marie specializes in music with a political and social-activist focus. She was an important figure in the Greenwich Village and Toronto folk music revivals in the 1960s, and is perhaps best known for her 1964 anti-war anthem “Universal Soldier,” which was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.

Her songs have been covered by such artists as Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond and Elvis Presley. She won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award; An Officer of the Order of Canada, she has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame. She has received the Polaris Music Prize and multiple Queen’s Jubilee Medals, Juno Awards and Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.

Santee Smith

Santee Smith is a member of the Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand, Ontario. She is Artistic Director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre and has amassed an extensive body of notable works as a choreographer, dancer, singer, and pottery designer. As an artist, she is committed to sharing traditional and contemporary stories of her indigenous culture. It is her interest in her culture and the cycles of the natural world that are the inspiration and focus of her creative direction.

Santee has created a new piece of choreography called Kinship, to be performed by 20+ local youth as part of the Procession of Nations on Friday 8 September at 5pm in The Backyard of the PAC.

Santee and Kaha:wi will also be in residence at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in the weeks leading up to the festival. Their technical residency will allow them to ready Re:Quickening for performance as part of Celebration of Nations and a subsequent tour.

Allison Fisher

A community builder and social justice advocate, Allison Fisher has dedicated her career to creating a safe space where First Peoples can live and celebrate their cultures.

Allison has helped to create such a space as the executive director of the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, which serves more than 14,000 Indigenous people through its culturally-based health programs and services every year.

Allison joined the centre less than a year after it opened its doors in 1998, and is now leading the centre through a $16 million capital expansion. In Allison’s words, the renovated centre is “the heart, identity and expression of Aboriginal people in Ottawa.” It offers enhanced mental health and maternal wellness services, as well as social enterprise initiatives and a cultural gathering space for the neighbourhood and broader community

In addition to her work with the Wabano Centre, Allison is a founding and continuing member of the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition, and a former board member with the Community Foundation of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission.

Allison Fisher brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to build healthy and inclusive communities. For example, she worked with Ottawa Police Services to develop a protocol for more culturally respectful policing. She also partnered with schools, community agencies and government to develop practical, culturally-appropriate approaches to better support urban Indigenous children and families.

In recognition of her community leadership, Allison has received numerous awards which most recently include:

  • Governor General’s Meritorius Service Medal, 2015
  • Order of Ontario, 2014
  • DreamKEEPERS Citation for Community Outstanding Leadership (Martin Luther King award), 2014
  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2013
  • Order of Ottawa, 2012
  • St Joseph’s Women’s Center Quality of Life Award, 2012
  • Leading Women, Building Communities Award, Ontario Women’s Directorate, 2010
  • President’s Recognition Award, Quartier Vanier, 2010
  • Marion Dewar Defender of the Public Good Award, 2008
  • Debut Group of the Year – Women of Wabano, Ninth Annual Native American Music Awards, 2007

Allison was born and raised in the First Nation community of Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. She has more than 30 years of experience in advocacy, management, research, and policy analysis—including 17 years in the federal public service. She holds a Masters of Education degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Western Ontario.

Denise Bolduc

Denise Bolduc is an accomplished creative leader recognized for her significant contributions and involvement within a multitude of diverse arts disciplines.  Recent creative producing/lead roles include: Tributaries, (Luminato Festival, Toronto, 2017), First Scene Indigenous Presenters Program (National Arts Centre, Ottawa, 2017), Beyond 150 Years:  An Acknowledgement of Indigenous Film (Vancouver, 2017), Miiyuu Pimaatswin (NWIA – Toronto, 2016), Songs in the Key of Cree – A Tomson Highway Musical Retrospective (Torotno, 2015), Maadaadizi/Summer Journeys (Finale, PAN AM PATH, Toronto, 2015), and Thunderbird Marketplace (Toronto, 2014).  She was the Co-Founder/Artistic Director of the Aboriginal Music Project, and the founding Artistic Director/Producer, Planet IndigenUS.

Internationally Denise has programmed and presented at festivals and cultural events in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. Denise also served as the Indigenous Arts Program Officer at the Ontario Arts Council, and as the Indigenous Dance and Music Program Officer at the Canada Council for the Arts. She is a sought after guest speaker/presenter/host, arts consultant and mentor, and also a faculty member at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. She has served as a volunteer on numerous committees, arts juries, and as a board member with organizations such as imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Aboriginal Voices Radio and Native Earth Performing Arts.

Denise is the 2017 Laureate of the Ontario Arts Council’s Indigenous Arts Award, and the recipient of the SOLID Festival’s Arts Leadership Award (2015), and the Toronto’s Indigenous Business Leadership Award (2009). Denise is a proud Anishinaabe from the Lake Superior territory and member of the Batchewana First Nation.