Silent No More

By: Shelley Fayant January, 2016

This past summer, Dance Saskatchewan worked with the office of the Treaty Commissioner to present Silent Survivors, a compelling take on the residential schools chapter in Canadian history, at Saskatoon’s Broadway Theatre. 

The unique performance uses traditional dance and song to tell the story and pay homage to survivors of residential schools,a topic many are now aware of thanks to the efforts of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Silent Survivors illustrates, through creative expression,the impact of residential schools on First Nations peoples, families and entire community.

"A compelling telling of our shared history - told without shame and in a manner that can touch us all and move us to a shared future. Bravo!" - Silent Survivors audience member

“The power of this performance is that it relays an incredibly hard story to hear but it offers such a hopeful way forward,” says Linda Coe-Kirkham, executive director, Dance Saskatchewan. “Many in the audience were moved to share their thoughts afterward and it was uplifting to read so many encouraging messages of hope and reconciliation, which is what Silent Survivors is ultimately all about. The audience response was largely positive with many people expressing a commitment to reconciliation. It’s our hope that more Saskatchewan communities will invite us in to share these messages."
The concept for Silent Survivors was inspired by Artistic Director Lorin Gardypie’s own experiences at residential school and his wish to help other survivors heal by sharing their own stories. Though the subject matter is difficult, the production carries a strong message of reconciliation that is delivered through elements like the Round Dance at the end of each performance, and post-performance workshops that incorporate First Nations elders’ teachings, drumming and storytelling.

"Thank you for sharing this part of history. This should continue to be talked about - it happened and there is so much hurt and pain associated with residential schools. My hope is that reconciliation would bring healing and that this would never happened again." - Silent Survivors audience member

Silent Survivors was presented in partnership with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner and Thunder Spirit Consulting. Dance Saskatchewan receives funding from SaskCulture, thanks to the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport,Culture and Recreation