Riel's Heart of the North | Regina Symphony Orchestra

Riel's Heart of the North

The RSO will perform the work by Dr. Suzanne Steele and composer Neil Weisensel on March 9, 2019 at the Masterworks concert Beethoven Symphony No. 6. Riel: Heart of the North explores a little-known chapter in Louis Riel’s life and focuses on the beauty and love of the homeland and of its people, the heart of the north. The work, for orchestra, soloists, fiddler, narrator and chorus is in Michif, Saulteaux, English, and French. Through community engagement and performances, the Métis’ past, present, and future are reimagined in this 21st century work dedicated to reconciliation and truth.

The RSO acknowledges the guidance and advice of the RSO Indigenous Advisory Council on all matters relating to this initiative and working with local partners in the Métis community.

The RSO thanks Saskatchewan Arts Board and SaskCulture/Saskatchewan Lotteries, as well as our accessibility sponsor Casino Regina for their support. The RSO is the recipient of a South Saskatchewan Community Foundation grant to host one of the 50 Vital Community Conversations as part of its 50th anniversary year, which will take place immediately following this concert at Conexus Arts Centre. For more information about the South Saskatchewan Community foundation, visit their website at www.sscf.ca.

Program Notes

From Librettist/Curator, Dr. Suzanne Steele

Having rather naively taken on this project, I quickly recognized that writing a meaningful new musical work on Louis Riel was overambitious, presumptuous, foolish, and an impossible project in many ways. Of the challenges I faced were the complexity of the man, the mythologies and histories that surround him, and the expectations of so many. Further, as anyone who has read Riel’s collected letters (5 volumes in French and English), biographies, and articles on Riel will know that one could write 100 dramatic musicals about almost every aspect of his life. 

Daunted, I took a 10,000 km journey into the heart of the continent in search of some way into this story of an important time in our history. Travelling with a traditional Métis fiddler, a guitarist, and a naturalist, we lived as close to the land of the mid-century as possible for the duration. We visited Métis communities, slept along the Missouri, travelled to ghost villages where Riel stayed, traversed the North Saskatchewan, slept in the grasslands— everywhere listening to the story that needed to be told. In an archive in North Dakota I found the story I wanted to tell, in an anonymous 19th century diary, purported to bear witness to Riel in his missing years, after the fall of his provisional government, and travelling incognito. I became intrigued when I began to read the diary and discovered a heretoforeunknown young woman with whom Riel was clearly in love. This then, became a focal point of my story.

One thing that was certain from the start, I knew I wanted to write about Métis women as the ones who sew together our culture—literally and figuratively. In museums around the world I had seen our women’s gorgeous beadwork and clothing—often mislabelled, in a double-erasure of the Michif culture and the women as artists—and knew the social and economic importance of their work, as indeed so much of our women’s work. Using Sherry Farrell Racette’s brilliant doctoral thesis, Sewing Ourselves Together: clothing, decorative arts and the expression of Métis and Half Breed identity (2004), as a contextual source, I devised the central themes of this work—the creating, the mending, the sewing, of the wounded of this world, but most importantly the beauty that comes from the love our women’s hands – this I celebrated.

I knew from the outset that I wanted to write in multiple languages and am extremely grateful to my translators for their patience. They are: Madame Vera de Montigny, Monsieur Jules Chartrand, Mesdames June Bruce, Lorraine Coutu, Agathe Chartrand, Patsy Millar, Andrea Rose, Suzanne Zeke, Joyce Dumont, Donna Beach and Debra Beach Ducharme. Without their help this work would be nothing. Maarsi.

My grandmother Joséphine-Marie Gaudry was ‘raised in a convent’ (a residential school) from age five or six to age 16; our people wanted our children educated and given religious training. There, she became a beautiful needlewoman, something she used all her life, at the end teaching female convicts, many of them Indigenous, how to sew and care for their little ones. So I dedicate this work to her and to my mother and to all our mothers who have sewn us together. I also dedicate this work to my ancestors (Josephete Serpent, a late 18th/early 19th century Saulteaux) and to all my women past (French, Scottish, Ojibwe) and future, especially my daughter, Joséphine-Marie, fiddler and keeper of the knowledge of who we are. Above all, I celebrate we are no longer invisible.

From Composer, Neil Weisensel

Working on the music for Riel’s Heart of the North has been a life-changing experience. It has changed how I look at the world, how I interact with people around me, how I see my community, my city, my province and country. It is a very daunting project to take on, for its size and scope, the extended timeline (over two years and counting), and the complexity of the subject matter. The next phase of this project will involve collaboration with a Metis composer, which I really look forward to. Librettist Dr. Suzanne Steele has been a steady ally who was not afraid to challenge my viewpoint as a non-Metis composer.

I spent many months researching Métis fiddle tunes, and meeting with, talking to and listening to fiddlers here in Winnipeg and at the Back to Batoche celebration in Batoche, Saskatchewan. I also listened to many recordings of the great Métis fiddlers from times past including Reg Bouvette and Andy Desjarlis. In some parts of the music, a traditional fiddle tune is heard as the prominent voice in the orchestra, supporting the voices. In other sections, the traditional fiddle tunes became a foundational building block of the music, not overtly heard, but the rock upon which the rest of the music was built.

I could not have contemplated trying to tell this story without their encouragement and support of many people. All through this process I have had the good fortune to collaborate with new friends, including our translators mentioned above, plus the Manitoba Métis Federation, the Louis Riel Institute, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and l’Union Nationale Métis de St. Joseph, a group that Louis Riel founded. In fact, the current President of the Union Nationale, Paulette Duguay (Riel’s great grand-niece) told me that the fact that this piece was being created has led her to believe that reconciliation is indeed possible. It is in that spirit of collaboration, listening, and reconciliation that I offer this piece.

We thank the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Program, the BC Arts Council, the Manitoba Arts Council, and all our partners in this immense project. What you will hear are excerpts from a much larger 90-minute work-in-progress.


Biographies

Suzanne Steele, librettist

Suzanne is an award-winning poet, installation artist, librettist, and scholar. She is Métis, from the Gaudry and Fayant families, families with roots that extend back to the first families. Dr. Steele has taught Métis cultural history, poetry of the First World War, and creative writing in Canada and the UK. Her work has been broadcast to 11 million worldwide (BBC World Service, CBC, NPR), presented internationally, and is studied internationally at the PhD, Master, and high school levels. She has read extensively at literary festivals and given papers in Oxford, London, St Andrews, Scotland, Amiens, France, and other locations. Dr. Steele’s research is in narrative studies, ethics, and the artistic challenge of representing war beyond the tropes of combat. She graduated from the University of Exeter (UK) in 2017, her undergraduate degree is in Music (voice) from UBC, and she has a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Western Ontario.

From 2008-2010 Dr. Steele served as an Official Canadian War Artist, Canada’s first poet sent into a war zone (Afghanistan) in the 101-year history of Canadian War Artists. She was embedded over an 18 month period with the First Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (1PPCLI) and visited them outside the wire in Afghanistan in 2009. In 2012 Suzanne and composer Jeff Ryan premiered their critically successful symphonic/choral work, Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, a major commission from the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, a work based on Steele’s observations of a Canadian infantry battalion going to war and returning. This war requiem, sensitively and movingly composed and orchestrated by Ryan, was broadcast nationally and internationally and was recently performed by the Vancouver symphony in January 2017. It will return again in November 2017 in Calgary and Toronto. The requiem has been recorded and will be commercially released in 2018.

Dr. Steele would like to extend her gratitude to the Canada Council New Chapter awards for this opportunity to explore the heart of the north, the traditional homelands of her people, to her agent Ian Arnold of Catalyst TM (Toronto), and to composer Neil Weisensel for approaching her with this collaboration in mind. Suzanne lives with musician and adventurer, Jeff Hilberry, and daughter, Ella Speckeen, a Métis fiddler, in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2015, Steele and Hilberry traversed the North Saskatchewan in their 17’ sailboat, Miss Moose, from the Rocky Mountains to Lake Winnipeg. They were the first sailboat to travel the length of the old river highway since the York boats of over a century ago.

Neil Weisensel, composer

Neil Weisensel is an opera composer based in Winnipeg, Canada. His seven critically and popularly acclaimed operas have been performed over 240 times across Canada and the United States. In 2019-2020 the Winnipeg and Regina Symphony Orchestras will premiere his newest work, a music theatre piece about Louis Riel entitled Riel: Heart of the North. Vancouver Opera premiered his anti-bullying opera Stickboy (libretto by spoken word superstar Shane Koyczan) in October of 2014. In 2016 Winnipeg’s Little Opera Company presented the world premiere of his 1997 opera Merry Christmas Stephen Leacock, which wqs subseuqenty remounted by Saskatoon Opera and the Saskatoon Symphony in fall of 2018. His 1993 opera City Workers in Love was performed at Canadian Menonite University in March 2019.

Neil collaborated with Michael Bublé on a set of big-band music and co-wrote a few songs, one of which garnered a Genie nomination in the Best Song category for the film Here's To Life. With his wife, the vocalist/songwriter Rachel Landrecht, Neil has performed for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Justin Trudeau and a host of other luminaries. Neil is Adjunct Professor (Theory, Composition) at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, where he lives with Rachel and daughter Miracle.

Neil has received grants, awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (U.S.), the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba, Winnipeg, and British Columbia Arts Councils, and the Banff Centre for the Arts, among others. His concert music, stage works and arrangement have been performed by the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Opera, the Arts Club Theatre (Vancouver), Opera Lyra Ottawa, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Vancouver New Music, the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir, the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra, Edmonton Opera, The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, and Edmonton’s Hammerhead Consort. 

Melody Courage, soprano 

Coloratura soprano Melody Courage received her degree and diploma in Opera Performance from the Vancouver Academy of Music after studying music at the University of British Columbia. She has performed professionally with Vancouver Opera since 2003, touring with their ensemble as ‘The Queen of the Night’ in an adaptation from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Melody has performed many roles, including: ‘First Lady’ in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, ‘Barbarina’, in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, ‘Donna Anna’ in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, ‘Konstanze’ in Mozart’s Die Entführung, ‘Fairy Godmother’ in Massenet’s Cendrillon, ‘Rosalinde’ in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, and ‘Illia’ in Mozart’s Idomeneo.

She was a featured soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria with the National Arts Center Orchestra as well as performed The Messiah with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra. With a passion for her Metis heritage, Melody has performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Planet Indigenous Festival. She was also selected to perform Reid’s The Spirit of Haida Gwaii for the opening  of Vancouver’s Inaugural Cultural Olympiad. In 2010, She was afforded  the opportunity to blur the conventional boundaries of opera, collaborating with electric cellist, Cris Derksen, at the Ode’min Giizis Festival in Ontario.

Melody has had the privilege of working with opera legends Nico Castel, Judith Forst, Tracy Dahl, as well as Metropolitan Opera coach Carol Isaac. Most recently, Melody premiered the key role of ‘Native Girl’ in City Opera Vancouver’s production of Missing, which gives voice and honour to Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.

Marion Newman, mezzo-soprano 

Kwagiulth and Stó:lō First Nations, English, Irish and Scottish mezzo-soprano Marion Newman is firmly established as one of Canada’s most accomplished singers in works ranging from Vivaldi to Vivier. Noted for her “sumptuous mezzo tone and impressive vocal agility”, Marion’s operatic roles include Carmen and Rosina in Il Barbiere di Sivigliaand the title role in Toronto Masque Theatre’s The Lesson of Da Ji.

The current season for Marion includes starring as Tsianina Redfeather in I Call Myself Princess, a new musical play by Jani Lauzon, Messiah with Symphony Nova Scotia, and her debut with Edmonton Opera as the Mother in Hansel and Gretel. Marion performs Anna Hostmann’s Singing the Earth with Victoria Symphony, and in 2019, Marion leads the cast in the title role of Dean Burry/Yvette Nolan’s Shanawdithit with Tapestry Opera/Opera on the Avalon.

On the concert stage Marion has performed with the Victoria Symphony, National Ballet of Canada, Portland Baroque Orchestra, CapriCCio Vocal Ensemble, The Elmer Iseler Singers, San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra, Kingston Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Elora Festival Singers and the St Lawrence Choir. Her extensive repertoire includes De Falla's El Amor Brujo, Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, Mozart's Coronation Mass, Beethoven Ninth Symphony, Copland's In The Beginning and Bach's St. John Passion, Magnificat, and Cantata no. 4.

Marion has performed in many world premieres of several operas/chamber works that speak to her First Nations identity, including the premiere of Bramwell Tovey’s song cycle “Ancestral Voices” with Vancouver Symphony, touring to Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa. Further performances include Jennifer Butler’s Klee Wyck Woman with Emily Carr String Quartet at ISCM World New Music Days in Vancouver, and the role of Dr. Wilson in the premiere of Marie Clements’ and Brian Current’s powerful Missing with City Opera Vancouver/Pacific Opera Victoria, as well as solo performances with Regina Symphony’s Forward Currents Festival.

Rebecca Cuddy, mezzo-soprano 

A versatile performer, Métis/Canadian Mezzo-Soprano Rebecca Cuddy is at home on both the contemporary and classical stage. Hailing from Toronto, Rebecca is ‘fresh and funny with a large, supple voice'. Recent career highlights include the Toronto Concert Orchestra’s Voice of a Nation in which she premiered a new Métis song cycle by Ian Cusson, Mercedes (Cover Carmen) in Carmen, and Frau Viehmann in The Brothers Grimm (Burry).

Collaborating on Indigenous works is one of Rebecca’s passions. She will join Tapestry Opera (May 2019) and Opera on the Avalon (June 2019) as Kwe in the premiere of Shawnadithit (Nolan/Burry). Rebecca participated in the August 2018 workshop of Riel: Heart of the North and was honoured to be working alongside Neil and Suzanne. She is excited to join Regina Symphony for the premier of this important work. For more information please visit her website www.rebeccacuddy.com


James McLennan, tenor 

James McLennan has been celebrated for his “emotional intensity” (Opera News), "considerable charm," and "strong yet pure tenor," (Toronto Star) in a wide range of roles on opera and concert stages across Canada. Last season’s credits included Goro in Madama Butterfly at Manitoba Opera and Luther Billis in South Pacific for Calgary Opera. He also appeared with Edmonton Opera as Jean Bilodeau in the critically acclaimed production of Les Feluettes, a role he originated for the world premiere at Montreal Opera in 2016. An avid performer of new music, James' concert appearances included a tour of the Canadian prairies with A Prairie Boy’s Life, a new chamber work by composer John Greer. In 2018, James was awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, which funded six weeks of study in France under internationally renowned clown and acting teacher, Philippe Gaulier. The current season sees him returning to Edmonton Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria as Gastone in a new production of La Traviata, and he will sing the tenor solo in Handel’s Messiah with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. This spring, James debuts with the Regina Symphony in Riel, Heart of the North, a new work by Neil Weisensel and Suzanne M. Steele. He will end the season on a lighter note, with a concert of classic show tunes for the Kelowna Community Concert Association in BC. Last fall James joined the University of Manitoba's Desautels Faculty of Music as a voice instructor. An alumnus of the Second City Training Centre in Toronto, he is also a certified French translator.

James Westman, bass 

Whether performing song, concert or opera throughout the world, baritone James Westman’s passion and musicianship bring an extra dimension to his performances. Future projects include Rigoletto for l’Opéra de Montréal, Germont in La traviata for Edmonton Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria, Britten’s War Requiem for the Colorado Symphony and the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Elijah for the Calgary Philharmonic, Carmina Burana for Chicago’s Grant Park Festival, the title role in Nabucco for Opéra de Québec and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for the Vancouver Symphony. Mr. Westman’s 2017-2018 season was notable for Carmina Burana for the St. Louis and Vancouver symphonies, Brahms’s Requiem with Orchestre symphonique de Québec, L’assedio di Calais with Odyssey Opera in Boston, and as Germont in La traviata with Manitoba Opera. Of special note was his appearance for the Wall Foundation of Vancouver in a concert benefitting the Music Department of the University of British Columbia.

His 2016-2017 season was a rewarding mix of repertoire ranging from the modern era back to the heights of bel canto’s golden age. He starred as the Doctor in Barber’s Vanessa for the Wexford Festival, as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor for Utah Opera, and triumphed in the iconic role of Sir John A MacDonald in Somers’s Louis Riel in Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec, a production that celebrated Canada’s Sesquicentennial Year. In concert he was heard in Verdi’s Requiem for the Brott Festival, Elijah for Choeur St. Laurent in Montreal, the Ontario Premiere of Kuzmenko’s Golden Harvest for the Orpheus Choir of Toronto, Martin’s In terra pax for the Grant Park Music Festival and gala opera evenings at LA’s Disney Hall with the Los Angeles Symphony and for Brott Music in Hamilton.

Recent seasons have included Germont in the Canadian Opera Company production of La traviata, Brahms’s Requiem for Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9in Calgary, Messiah for the McGill Chamber Orchestra and Germont in La traviata with Jacques Lacombe and l’Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières.

Additional credits include Sharpless in Madama Butterfly for the Utah Opera, Lt. Gordon in Puts’s Silent Night for Calgary Opera, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor for Pacific Opera Victoria, the Count in Le nozze di Figaro for Opera Lyra Ottawa, Baron Scarpia in Tosca for Opéra de Québec and on the concert stage he was heard in Messiahfor the New York Philharmonic and in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri for the Vancouver Symphony. Festival appearances have included the Seattle Chamber Society series with James Ehnes, and Verdi’s Requiem for the New Hampshire Music Festival.

Nominated for two Grammy awards and three Canadian Juno awards, Westman has recorded for Decca, Opera Rara, CBC and BBC. Though widely regarded as an ideal exponent of the Verdi baritone roles, he has also been hailed for leading roles in the works of Puccini, Massenet, Donizetti, Janaček, Bizet, Britten and Mozart for many of the principal opera houses in North America and Europe including the Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opéra de Montréal, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Vancouver Opera, English National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, the Dallas Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Wexford Festival (Ireland), the opera houses of Graz, Cologne and many more.

Mr. Westman further thrives at art song repertoire in many different styles and genres. He has preformed recitals for the Marilyn Horne Foundation, the George London Foundation, the Aldeburgh Connection, the Canadian Arts and Letters Club, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Stratford Summer Music Festival, the Schawbacher Debut Recital Series, the Michigan Chamber Music Society, the Lanaudière Festival, Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyrique and the Wexford Festival, Ireland.

His success on the concert stage continues to flourish and he has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras; MESSIAH alone has taken him to the New York Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa), Vancouver Symphony, Baltimore Symphony and the Detroit Symphony.

Baritone in Residence with the prestigious San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship program, his critically acclaimed performances at the San Francisco Opera include Guglielmo (Così tan tutte); Marcello (La bohème); Sylvio (Pagliacci); Germont (La traviata); Renato (Un ballo in maschera) and Sid (Albert Herring). Mr. Westman placed first in all the international competitions in which he has participated, including the George London Competition, the D’angelo Competition, the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyrique, and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation and Marilyn Horne Foundation Award. He was a finalist and the audience favorite at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.

Further credits include Sharpless in Madama Butterfly for Dallas Opera and Santa Fe Opera; Talbot in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda for Opéra de Montréal; Sandy Keith in Tovey’s The Inventor remounted for Calgary Opera, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Indianapolis Symphony; plus recording and performing Britten’s War Requiem in Japan under Seiji Ozawa for Decca Records.

Formerly a successful boy treble, Mr. Westman toured with the American Boys Choir, the Paris Boys Choir and the Vienna Boys Choir. Known as Jamie Westman, he was the first boy ever to perform the fourth movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 (Childs View of Heaven), and toured this work with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra in Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East and West Germany and Russia, performing in the Musikverein, Roy Thomson Hall and Carnegie Hall at the age of twelve.

James Westman’s professional development has been influenced by such renowned artists as Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, Renato Capecchi, Paul Esswood, John F.M. Wood, Carl Duggan, Lois Marshall, Patricia Kern, Régine Crespin, Warren Jones, Martin Katz, Virginia Zeani, Marlena Malas, Theodore Uppman, Diane Forlano, and Marilyn Horne.

Jordan Daniels, fiddle 

Jordan Daniels asked for a fiddle when he was ten years old and hasn’t looked back since.  Jordan loves learning the old style Metis tunes from his teacher and mentor, renowned Metis fiddler John Arcand, and especially enjoys playing them at the many functions and events that he attends.  Jordan is presently the Saskatchewan Junior Fiddle Champion and has held the title the past four years.  Jordan’s inspiration to play comes from his late mushoms (great-grandfathers), Lawrence Daniels and Wilfred Badger, both were known as accomplished fiddle players, entertaining friends and family alike.

Jordan is a Mistawasis First Nation member and resides in Saskatoon with his parents, Joe and Jessica, and brother Jay.  Jordan is sixteen years old and is a grade eleven honour student.   Besides the fiddle, Jordan also plays the guitar, banjo and mandolin, and to top it off has time to participate in hockey, baseball and football.

Riva Farrell Racette, narrator 

Riva Farrell Racette is an educator, musician and lawyer. She was raised on the prairies and is a member of the Timiskaming Algonquin First Nation in Quebec and has strong family ties to the Metis and Saulteaux communities in Saskatchewan.

Riva has been a member of Regina's local music scene for many years, playing bass in a number of Regina indie bands including, Sylvie (members of Despistado, Rah Rah, and Robot Hive), the Florals (members of the Steves and Library Voices), and a two-piece drum and bass project called Spoils.

Riva's solo project has been featured on CBC and on APTN for the 2012 Aboriginal Day live celebration which was broadcast nationally. In February of 2012, Riva's song "I am a Witness" was adopted by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society as their awareness campaign song for their historic human rights claim against the Federal Government for the underfunding of child welfare services on reserve.

Riva obtained a teaching degree from the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher's Education Program (SUNTEP) operated by the Gabriel Dumont Institute. She then went on to work as a school teacher on a Saskatchewan First Nation-operated school for over seven years.

Drawing on her education background, Riva currently practices in labour and employment and human rights law, working extensively with First Nations employers on these matters. She also works extensively in the area of Aboriginal Law and advises First Nations on band governance and associated administrative law issues, including land management, housing matters and election codes and disputes. Riva has appeared at all levels of Saskatchewan Courts.

Dominic Gregorio, choir director

Dominic Gregorio is Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Regina, conducting the choirs, leading a graduate choral conducting program and teaching voice related classes. Dr. Gregorio recently created performances with artists Teddy Bison and Shannon Rae McNabb, and was music director for the FNUC student led "Making Treaty 4" theatre project. Gregorio is currently in the midst of rehearsing a Filipino choir investigating Filipino indigeneity and decolonizing through Filipino Folk Music, using music to build bridges of understanding and allyship within the Canadian TRC context. "Music has a powerful role to play in Truth and Reconciliation, undoing hundreds of years of colonial conditioning begins with forming and building partnerships, friendships, connections, and practicing deep listening and empathy, all of which are the very goal of harmonious music making."