• Eugene Stickland

A Fragile Time

It's hard to fathom how drastically and dramatically our world has changed in the few weeks since I wrote my last post. The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty that many of us find ourselves living with now are hardly new phenomena for our First Nations girls.

How their families are coping with it all remains to be seen. Although we are no longer able to meet with the girls, I know Helen and her staff are very concerned with their well-being. It's a troubling time. Our girls come from unsettled and often unstable homes. It's a fragile time.

I know the Stardale staff are doing what they can by phone and any other means to support the girls through this difficult time. You couldn't find another organization anywhere where the staff cares as much for their participants than Stardale.

This virus and our reaction to it as a society touches all walks of life and all of our endeavours without discrimination. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, stores, banks, dentists, tattoo parlours, health clubs - you name it, all have had to close their doors.

So too with groups like Stardale. And so too with theatres and concert halls and, well, anywhere people congregate in numbers more than - what is it today? 20? 10? 5? The number decreases every day.

Yes, we get it. We must stay away from one another. We must flatten the curve. And we are doing that. We've seen what's going on in Italy and Spain and New York City. None of us wants that to happen here and so we self-isolate.

This is inconvenient for everyone across the board. It's an unfortunate situation and it can't be helped. But it has put Stardale in a double bind, as we have been working all winter to create a new theatrical presentation, and that presentation was to have been at the centre of a fundraiser, funds from which are desperately needed to keep its doors open. (Even if currently they are essentially virtual doors, they must stay open.)

As you may or may not know, our performance piece this year is titled The Road. I have helped the girls create this piece as a response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women's Commission's findings from last year. The girls have been writing their thoughts about this situation since the fall. We are exploring the metaphorical road the girls find themselves on at this place and time. We look at their traditions, their fears and hopes, the discrimination they face daily, and their perception of the future.

It's an important piece, and so we have looked for ways to salvage the work the girls have done so far so we can share it with an audience.

Fortunately, as I've been working with the girls and collecting their writings, a talented young filmmaker, Vanessa Wenzel, has been working with us, parallel to what I've been doing but in concert with the nature of the project.

Could we put together the text the girls have created with the images Vanessa has gathered? Could we still create a work of perfomative art created by and featuring the girls and their words in the form of a short film?

And when all this COVID-19 madness is over, could we then have a gala premiere presentation of that short film at a fundraiser and make some money to keep this amazing program running?

That's the dream as it stands now.

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