For over 40 years, Cree-Saulteaux performing artist, artistic director, writer and cultural worker, Margo Kane, has been a galvanizing force on the arts and culture scene in Canada and internationally. She’s been a major advocate and leader in the advancement of Indigenous arts in Canada and beyond, dedicating her life to mentoring Indigenous artists and creating opportunities to showcase their work and culture.
2021 marks a high point in this remarkable woman’s career. The event she founded and runs, the Talking Stick Festival, commemorates its 20th anniversary with four festivals, one in each season, celebrating Indigenous performance and art. This year also sees Ms. Kane receive a number of prestigious honours acknowledging her life’s work, her contributions, and her important role in the cultural life of this country.
Earlier this year, the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) named Ms. Kane a 2021 International Citation of Merit Recipient. Presented for “unique lifetime achievement which has enriched the international performing arts”, she was recognized for her distinguished service working within the profession. The ISPA said, “Margo has been and continues to be a mentor, leader, and inspiration to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from across Canada and around the world.”
Moonlodge, Ms. Kane’s internationally acclaimed one-woman show – an Indigenous Canadian classic and a catalyst in Indigenous theatre – is currently being streamed as part of Soulpepper Theatre’s Around the World in 80 Plays audio drama series (to June 30).
She is also nominated for a YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Reconciliation in Action Category. Ms. Kane is being lauded for, among other accomplishments, having “created countless and diverse opportunities for Indigenous artists and community to gather, activate and galvanize around their artistic sovereignty and self-determination.” Award winners will be announced in June.
At their October, 2021 ceremonies, Simon Fraser University will present Margo with an Honorary Degree. She will be in the good company of 13 other distinguished individuals making a positive difference in the world.
These are all recent acknowledgements in a long career full of accomplishments. In addition to having founded and served as the artistic managing director of Full Circle: First Nations, Ms. Kane has developed an Aboriginal Ensemble Performing Arts Program and founded and continues to run the annual Talking Stick Festival. She was also the artistic director of the Canada 150+ summer festival, The Drum is Calling. Margo has also received a City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award in Theatre; a Career Achievement Jessie Award; an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of the Fraser Valley, and; the Order of Canada from the Governor General.
And the work continues! In June, the Talking Stick Festival presents the Summer Sojourn online festival as part of its 20th Anniversary celebrations. In store is a month-long series of Indigenous performance and art featuring concerts, dance performances, exhibitions, readings, theatrical presentations, film and eclectic co-presentations – as well as some unique and unexpected experiences. A fall festival is planned for September. Full info is at talkingstickfest.ca