Each year, thanks to the generous support of the community and its partners, Boogie is able to donate close to 50% of each registration fee to local Kamloops charities. Chosen every two years, Boogie donates funds raised each year to two charities of choice and the Boogie the Bridge Cultural Fund (begun in 2005). To date, Boogie has been able to donate over 1 million dollars to our local Kamloops community!


This year, we have chosen a new charity for the 2020 – 2021 years. We are proud to announce that Boogie will be supporting:

First Nations Youth Theatre Outreach, under the Umbrella of Western Canada Theatre.


Background:

Western Canada Theatre (WCT) is the largest professional arts organization in the B.C. Interior, serving a broad audience in both geography and demographic. Their role involves retaining their committed audiences through innovative productions of well-known and populist work, while advancing the cultural dialogue through development and production of new Canadian and Indigenous work, and the promotion of Canadian and Indigenous plays, playwrights, and artists.

A large aspect of WCT’s work is educational, seeking to bring young people to the theatre through their productions and theatre school for the purposes of audience/artist development, extending theatre appreciation, and the development of young artists from an early age.

Western Canada Theatre wishes to partner with a local Indigenous artist/storyteller and surrounding Bands to promote, enhance and support the ongoing telling of First Nations stories.

WCT Education Coordinator Terri Runnalls will join forces with Kenthen Thomas, a youth educator, knowledge holder of traditional stories and member of the Neskonlith Indian Band. Mr. Thomas is a certified teacher and has performed for decades as an actor with Senclip Theatre and Secwepemc Theatre, amongst others. Ms. Runnalls has taught the youth acting program at WCT for over 10 years and was a touring actor for 20 years. Both Ms. Runnalls and Mr. Thomson are dedicated to bringing theatre and storytelling to young people and have been teaching workshops in classrooms for well over a decade in the Kamloops region and beyond.

Ms. Runnalls and Mr. Thomson will devise a workshop together that will focus on the importance and impact of storytelling. Led by Mr. Thomas, the workshop will cover the history of the land, history of storytelling, and the importance of “reaching to the past, while looking forward”. Mr. Thomas will enforce the responsibility we have to retell these stories to our future communities. Mr. Thomas, an incredible storyteller and teacher, will encourage the children to join him in connecting these stories to their land, their language, their people, and their future.

The traditionally rich culture and strong community of the Secwépemc people of the Kamloops region has been challenged and suppressed since the in ux of settlers in the mid-1800s.The Kamloops Indian Residential School was opened in 1893 and closed in 1977, and the residual effects of what happened there continue to haunt our communities. The language, stories and history of our First Nations brothers and sisters have been eradicated, and as a community we still struggle to nd ways to heal. Our Secwépemc communities in and surrounding Kamloops continue to suffer from language loss, lack of connection with traditional stories, and intergenerational trauma, to mention just a few of the effects that stems from the colonization of their land and forced assimilation of their people. Lori Marchand, a former Kamloops resident and WCT’s former General Manager who recently moved to become the first General Manager of Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre, noted in an interview: “There are relatively good programs in the community [Kamloops], but nowhere near strong enough to ensure survival, daily use, continued presence, relevance and impact on daily life and community well-being and decision-making. Stories and teaching hold the knowledge of the community: maps, laws, history, ethics and philosophy; the essence of a culture. These are all in danger, placing in danger the community’s continued survival, let alone wellbeing”. From theatrical work we have done and witnessed from others, we know that art can play a part in that healing and we intend to do what we can to contribute.

The impact of this project will be felt far and wide. It will unite our community, strengthen the education program at WCT and, most importantly, give a voice to young First Nations children in our region. The Band members and children who will have the opportunity to attend these workshops will benefit in a number of ways. Most importantly it will give children the confidence to represent their ancestors, their culture, and their heritage and use their new theatrical skills to relay the importance of their stories to future generations. With the help of Boogie the Bridge, WCT will bring these performances to classrooms in the school district in the fall of 2021.