Our Letter In Support of NAC's Indigenous Theatre

On April 3, 2019, we sent the following letter to Minister Pablo Rodriguez in response to Heritage Canada’s decision not to fund the National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Theatre.

Dear Mr. Rodriguez,

We are writing to you today as theatre artists and active participants in our local theatre communities. We are incredibly disappointed with the decision that was made to deny funding to the National Arts Centre Indigenous theatre program.

Theatre is a unique art form. It is empowering, giving actors a voice and a stage and the attention to share a message. It is communal, where theatre artists gather together to build a story and then open the doors to share the fruit of their labour, their sweat, their tears, with members of their community. And it is healing, where an audience becomes one, transfixed by the power of imagination, transported by the power of story, transformed by the power of empathy.

But theatre can also be a tool of oppression.

The message that has been sent to the National Arts Centre Indigenous theatre program by denying all funding is unambiguous, it is not vague, it is not veiled. It is an act affirming the supremacy of a Canadian culture that is “white” at the expense of our indigenous brothers and sisters. It is an act that marginalizes indigenous theatre artists, and it is an act that reinforces the history of colonialism in this country and directly contradicts the words and commitments of this administration to Reconciliation.

We are settlers on this land and we understand that the task to undo the oppression inherent in the fabric of our society is monumental, but it is vital. We urge you to reconsider the decision to not provide funding to Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre and to invest in the future of a Canada that is more free, more equitable and more just for all.


Thomas Gage and Katherine Stadel

If you would like to support NAC’s Indigenous Theatre, please consider making a donation.

Thomas Gage