ABOUT THE PLAY
By Jani Lauzon and Kaitlyn Riordan
Directed by Jani Lauzon
House Program for 1939
Born of both family legacy and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 1939 has been guided by Indigenous Elders, Survivors and ceremony throughout its development.
Grade Recommendation 7+
The play is set in a residential school in 1939. While ultimately a story of hope and resilience that locates spaces in which Indigenous youth demonstrate agency and change, it explores the systemic erasure of Indigenous cultures by these institutions and its agents by way of racism, discrimination, colonial violence and family separation. To access the 24-hour Hope for Wellness Helpline, call toll-free 1.855.242.3310 or connect to the online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.
At a residential school in northern Ontario, five students are ordered to gather in a classroom. Two of them, Joseph Summers and his sister, Beth, have been at the school for seven years, but its policy of separating siblings has largely kept them apart - till now. Susan Blackbird, an orphan who has been there since she was four, struggles to connect with her barely remembered Cree heritage, while newcomer Evelyne Rice tries to avoid punishment by repressing her Mohawk culture and language. Jean Delorme, as a Métis student, is a rarity at the school and struggles to fit in.
English teacher Sian Ap Dafydd explains the reason for their summons: they have been chosen to entertain King George VI and his Queen on their forthcoming visit with a student performance of Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well. Firmly colonial in her notions and intentions, Ap Dafydd is as determined to get her young actors to deliver the "big round vowels" she considers essential to speaking Shakespeare as she is to show the royal couple how the students are learning to be "good little Canadians."
But as rehearsals proceed, the students' agency erupts as they learn about each other and discover parallels between the play's characters and their own experiences. Confronting individual and collective tragedy with humour and strength, the students undertake a journey of self-discovery and empowerment - their resilience evoking Helena's line in All's Well: "Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie."
- Global Competencies:
- Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Learning to Learn/ Self-Awareness
- Grade 7-8
- Indigenous Languages
- The Arts
- Social Studies
- Health and Physical Education
- Grade 9-12
- First Nations, Métis and Inuit Studies
- Indigenous Languages
- The Arts
- Canadian and World Studies
- Health and Physical Education
- Grades 11-12
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Suitable for courses in disciplines such as Indigenous Studies, Arts, Canadian Studies, Cultural Studies, Drama, English, Fine Arts, History, Human Rights, Religious Studies, Social Development Studies, Teacher Education and Theatre
Resources by Theme compiled by Dr. Sorouja Moll, Research Dramaturge on 1939.
The Art of Resilience
- Akiwenzie-Damm, Kateri, et al. (2019). This Place: 150 Years Retold. HighWater Press.
- Campbell, Maria. (1983) Half-Breed. Formac. Publishing Company
- Haig-Brown, Celia. Resistance and Renewal: Surviving the Indian Residential School. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1998. First published by Tillicum Library, 1988.
- Robertson, David. A. (2021). On the Trapline. Tundra Books.
- Singh, Katherine and Nadia Ebrahim (2021). "11 Indigenous Designers Everyone Should Have on Their Minds." Refinery29. Website.
- Vermette, Katherena; Scott B. Henderson; et al. (2017). Pemmican Wars. HighWater Press.
- Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty. (2022) "Indigenous Food Systems Network." Website.
Explore Artists and their Resistance
Collective Agency and First Nations, Métis and Inuit Activism
- McDiarmid, Jessica. (2020). Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Anchor Canada.
- Robertson, Joanne. (2017). The Water Walker. Second Story Press, Bilingual edition
- Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. (2020). As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance. University of Minnesota Press
- Wall Kimmerer, Robin. (2015). Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Milkweed Editions.
Colonialism and the War on Indigenous Peoples
- Daschuk, James (2019). Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Indigenous Life. University of Regina Press.
- Joseph, Bob. (2018). 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality. Indigenous Relations Press.
- Vowel, Chelsea (2016). Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, & Inuit Issues in Canada. Highwater Press.
The Doctrine of Discovery
- Assembly of First Nations (2018). Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery. Website.
- Eneas, Bryan. (2022). "Doctrine of Discovery: Its effects are still being felt, but only the Pope can rescind it." CBC News. Website.
- Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Study on the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery on Indigenous peoples, including mechanisms, processes and instruments of redress UN Doc. E/C.19/2014/3 (20 February 2014) [Study by Forum member Edward John], available here.
Indigeneity and Gender
- Anderson, Kim (2016). A Recognition of Being, Second Edition: Reconstructing Native Womanhood. Women's Press.
- Anderson, Kim and Maria Cambell (2011). Life Stages and Native Women: Memory, Teachings, and Story Medicine. University of Manitoba Press.
- Chacaby, Ma-Nee. (2016 ). A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder. University of Manitoba Press.
- Innes, Robert Alexander and Kim Anderson, eds. (2015). Indigenous Men and Masculinities: Legacies, Identities, Regeneration. University of Manitoba Press.
- Manitoba. Public Inquiry into the Administration and Indigenous People. "Indigenous Women." Vol. 1, chap. 13, in Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba Winnipeg: Public Inquiry into the Administration and Indigenous People, 1999.
- Maracle, Lee (2003). I am Woman. Press Gang.
- "The REDress Project." Jaime Black. Website.
- Queer & 2S Books at XWI7XWA Library. UBC. Website.
- Why we need gender fluidity" Nicholas Metcalf. TEDxUMN. Website.
Giving Voice to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Children
- "Crimes against children at residential school: The truth about St. Anne's." (2019). The Fifth Estate. Website
- "Stolen Children: Residential Schools Survivors Speak Out." CBC Radio Canada. Website.
- "48 Books by Indigenous writers to read to understand Residential Schools." CBC. Website.
The Influence of the Written Word in Media and from Government
- Anderson, Mark Cronlund and Carmen L. Robertson (2011). Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers. University of Manitoba Press.
- "Common Portrayals of Indigenous People." MediaSmarts: Canada's Centre for Media and Digital Literacy. Website.
- United Nations. "Breaking Media Stereotypes with Indigenous Storytelling." We are Indigenous. Website.
Language as Culture, Language as Identity, Language as Power
- Brant, Beth. (1994). Writing as Witness: Essay and Talk. Women's Press Literary.
- Lindstrom, Carole and Michaela Goade (2020). We are Water Protectors. Roaring Brook Press.
- Mailhot, Terese Marie. (2020). Heart Berries: A Memoir. Anchor Canada.
- Maracle, Lee and Marysia Buchoic, et al. (2015). My Conversations with Canadians. Lee Maracle.
Loneliness and Isolation
- First Nations Health Authority. "Our History Our Health." Website.
- Robertson, David. A. (2021). Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story. HighWater Press.
- Thistle, Jesse. (2019). From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding my Way. Simon & Schuster.
The Power of Storytelling and Theatre
- Clements, Marie (2012). The Unnatural and Accidental Women. Talon Books.
- Moses, Daniel David (2009). Almighty Voice and His Wife. Playwrights Canada Press.
- Nolan, Yvette. (2015). Medicine Show: Indigenous Performance Culture. Playwrights Canada Press.
- Nolan, Yvette and Ric Knowles (2016). Performing Indigeneity. Playwrights Canada Press.
- Hanson, E., Gamez, D., & Manuel, A. (2020, September). The Residential School System. Indigenous Foundations.
- Milloy, John S. (2017). A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System. University of Manitoba Press.
- Moses, Daniel David, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, et al. (2018). Indian Act: Residential School Plays. PlaywrightsCanada Press.
- Royal Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Volume 1: Looking Forward, Looking Back. Chapter 10, "1.2 Changing Policies." Ottawa: Supply and Services Canada, 1996. 344-353.d
- Sellars, Bev. (2012). They Called Me Number One. Talonbooks
- Taylor, Drew Hayden (2014). God and the Indian. Talon Books.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015). Canada's Residential Schools: The History, Part 1, Origins to 1939: The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Vol.1. McGill-Queen's University Press.
- Vancouver Public Library. "VPL Picks: Residential School Memoirs. Website.
The Role of Humour in Navigating Racism, Trauma and Systemic Oppression
- Jacobs, Devery (2021). "How Indigenous People Use Humour for Survival." Refinery29. Website.
- Kabatay, Jasmine (2021). "The best medicine: 10 Indigenous Comedians on How They use Humour for Healing." CBC Arts. Website.
- King, Thomas. (2017). The Inconvenient Indian Illustrated: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. Doubleday Canada
Shakespeare and Adaptation, Disrupting the Myth That There is a "Right Way" to Perform Shakespeare
- "Canadian Adaptations." (2007). Shakespeare Made in Canada. Website.
- Fischlin, Daniel and Mark Fortier (2000). Adaptations of Shakespeare: An Anthology of Plays from the 17th Century to Present. Routledge.
- Gruner, Marion and Sorouja Moll, Dirs (2007). "What Means This Shouting." Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project (CASP). Website.
- Knowles, Ric. Ed. (2009). The Shakespeare's Mine: Adapting Shakespeare in Anglophone Canada. Playwrights Canada Press.
- Otîhêw: An Indigenous Reimagining of Othello by PJ Prudat. (2022). Shakespeare in the Ruff. Website.
Truth and Reconciliation
- Moran, R. (2018). Truth and Reconciliation. Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. Website.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015) Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume One: Summary: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Lorimer, 1st Edition.
- Wente, Jesse (2022). Unreconciled: Family, Truth, and Indigenous Resistance. Penguin Canada.
1939: History and Significance
- Badgley, Frank, ed. (1939). The Royal Visit. National Film Board of Canada. Website.
- "Royal Tour Across Canada in May 1939 (2018). Toronto Public Library. Website.
- "The Story of the Canadian Royal Train of 1939." ThemeTrains. Website.
Fred Christie: Anti-Black Racism in Canada and Resistance
- "Christie v. The York Corporation." University of Toronto Library. Website.
- Montpetit, Jonathan (2019). "Finding Fred Christie: The legacies, big and small, of Canada's reluctant civil rights hero." CBC News. Website.
M.S. St. Louis and Jewish Refugees: Antisemitism in Canada
- Library and Archives Canada presents some of the key Canadian historical files related to the tragic voyage of MS St. Louis at Website. (Library and Archives Canada, RG76 Volume 440 File 670224)
- Schwinghamer, Steve (2022). Canada and MS St. Louis. Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Website.
The Great Depression (1930-1939)
- Belshaw, John Douglas (2018). "8.5 The Great Depression." Canadian History: Post-Confederation. Open Educational Resources, BCcampus. Website.
- Broadfoot, Barry (1997). Ten Lost Years, 1929-1939: Memories of a Canadian Who Survived the Depression. McClelland & Stewart.
- "The Dirty Thirties." McCord Museum. Website.