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Indigenous arts collective finds permanent home at Calgary’s Grand Theatre

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It’s moving day for Making Treaty 7, and while the day will be filled with heavy lifting, spirits will be high for the Indigenous arts collective

The company will finally have a permanent home at the Grand Theatre as of Feb. 1, making them the second Indigenous arts society in Canada to have a fixed address.

“There are so many [Indigenous arts] companies functioning out of their home or in small office spaces,” said Justin Many Fingers, artistic director of Making Treaty 7.

“For us, it’s honouring, but it’s also quite sad.”

The company was founded in 2012 by the late Michael Green, and Making Treaty 7 was born out of an incentive to encourage Calgarians to understand—whether they are Indigenous or not—they are Treaty people.

Making Treaty 7 tells stories from Indigenous perspectives, because Canadian history books are told from a settler point of view, said Many Fingers, adding that, “because we are an oral culture, a lot of our stories are lost but they’re still important.

“These aren’t bedtime stories,” he said. “If you didn’t know these stories, you would die.”

Oral stories allowed Indigenous people to pass on important information, such as how the land worked, what the migration patterns were and how the weather fluctuates, said Many Fingers.

“When you put that into an artistic form, that’s what you get out of Indigenous arts.”

The need for a permanent space was crucial, because Making Treaty 7 operated year round but only had programming available to the public four to five weeks a year.

“For me it was trying to understand how to build a sustainable model for Indigenous art forms,” said Many Fingers. “There are not many resources in Calgary, let alone Alberta.”

Tony McGrath, CEO of the Grand Theatre, said when he took over for the theatre, he made a commitment to give it back to Calgarians, including the city’s first peoples.

“When I was introduced to [Many Fingers], our vision to embrace all Calgarians in a reconciliation movement to our First Nation people was irresistible,” said McGrath. He then agreed to host the Indigenous arts company permanently.

Programming at Grand Theatre for Making Treaty 7 will take place in the fall, but you can check out their next performance Okotoks at the Jubilee Auditorium.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit makingtreaty7.com.