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All are welcome to come join our free weekend event! A gathering of local and provincial Indigenous Artists to open the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Building.  Featuring a stage adaptation of Marvin Francis’ epic long poem City Treaty, art by multi-disciplinary artist Shelly Niro, a historical talk with Rick Hill, workshops, dance demonstrations, music, food and more.  The event wishes to honour the land the new theatre is built upon and open its doors to all peoples. 

To register for workshops and reserve tickets to the performance 


Saturday Sept. 19th
5:00pm Opening Ceremony
5:30pm Dance, Drumming & Vendor Fair
6:30pm Historical Talk with Rick Hill

7:00pm City Treaty Performance

Sunday Sept. 20th
12:30pm Perpetual Peace Project Concert
2:00pm City Treaty Performance
3:00pm Workshops
5:00pm Closing Ceremony
5:30pm Rise Above Hospitality


Marvin Francis was an Aboriginal poet, playwright, author and visual artist based in Winnipeg. With his 2002 book, City Treaty, he established himself as a unique voice in the Manitoba arts scene, one that was abruptly silenced by his death in January 2005 from cancer at the age of 49.


Born and raised on the Heart Lake First Nation reserve in Northern Alberta in 1955, Francis began his working life after quitting school in 1971. He spent much of the following decade traveling across the route of the Trans Canada Highway doing odd jobs. Arriving in Winnipeg in the late 1980s, he studied at the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba, where he earned B.A. and M.A. degrees. City Treaty, earned him considerable acclaim and in 2003 he received the John Hirsch Award as Manitoba's most promising writer.


Reasons behind his railings against cultural assimilation and dominant society are evident in his 2004 contribution to Canadian Dimension magazine, where he identifies as “part of the massive migration of Aboriginal peoples to the city. I was raised by a single mother who moved us to Edmonton (and many other places) from the Heart Lake First Nation in Alberta to avoid residential school for my siblings and me.”


The “urban rez” became his life and his first city experiences “loaded with culture shock, mostly negative, with the in-your-face racism of the seventies” overwhelmed him. But Francis had energy and expansive artistic horizons. He wrote and/or directed radio plays for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, such as The Sniffer and Punching Out Judy, that reflected his unique perspective on Manitoba urban life. Francis also expanded into writing short stories (such as "Pencil Beauty" in the 2005 Manitoba Aboriginal Writers Collective anthology Bone Memory), designing visual art and creating virtual Internet exhibits. He was also active politically within the arts community of Manitoba. A founding member of the Manitoba Aboriginal Writers Collective, he was also a board member of the Urban Shaman art gallery and the Manitoba Writers Guild. In these areas as well as his art, he was a passionate supporter of Canadian Native people and the urban poor of Winnipeg.


“Ah, the ‘cigarette poet’,” began close friend and fellow poet Duncan Mercredi when asked to profile Francis. “He was always writing and if he ran out of paper, he’d break pieces off his constant companion, the cigarette pack, and scribble thoughts and ideas on these bits of paper. Some contained a full piece, short, but full of meaning; others were the start of something amazing.” 


“He was always working on so many projects,” said Jamis Paulson of Turnstone Press, publisher of City Treaty and bush camp, Francis’s second book of poetry published posthumously in 2008. “He had this idea to install a poem without end that would run along the underground circular concourse here in Winnipeg. Wherever you entered you could read the poem. Today with LCD technology someone could string up monitors in a circle to make it happen, but back in 2000 when he was talking about it, it was radical. Brilliant. He could say ‘hey, pay attention to this (social issue)’ all the while using so much humour “that it was fun to listen to him.”


Thanks to WindSpeaker for this article about Marvin Francis. For more click here.

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