The Canadian Opera Company (COC) has launched a commissioning project that is designed to play an active role in indigenous land acknowledgment — rather than reducing land acknowledgment to a brief blurb on program notes or a short announcement at the beginning of a concert.
The project commissions Indigenous visual artists to create an installation or some other means of visual communication, that can act as a land acknowledgment statement. The artist works in conjunction with a COC staff member to produce the work.
The inaugural artist collaborator in the program is Rebecca Cuddy, who is a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario and also works as a mezzo-soprano.
She is a member of the Circle of Artists, a group that provides consultation on Indigenous matters to a range of Canadian arts organizations, including the COC. Cuddy's installation is titled "where the water meets the land" and features a range of references to Indigenous issues, such as an orange blossom, which represents the awful practice of mass graves at historic school sites.
"We hope that when people take in our programming, whether that's in-person or online, they're also able to experience land acknowledgment in a new way — something that engages their senses, allows them to reflect on their own learnings and knowledge, and go away wanting to know more," said Perryn Leech, the COC's General Director.
"Creating creative pathways of connection lies at the heart of what we do as a performing arts organization; we hope that continued creative collaborations like this one will support the boosting of Indigenous voices so that these stories and realities are shared widely, and into the future," they added.
You can watch a video that introduces Cuddy's installation below.