Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout
Based on a deposition signed by 14 Chiefs of the Thompson River basin on the occasion of a visit to their lands by Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1910, Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout is a ritualized retelling of how the Native Peoples of British Columbia lost ... Read more
Based on a deposition signed by 14 Chiefs of the Thompson River basin on the occasion of a visit to their lands by Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1910, Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout is a ritualized retelling of how the Native Peoples of British Columbia lost their fishing, hunting and grazing rights, their lands, and finally their language without their agreement or consent, and without any treaties ever having been signed. It is one of the most compellingly tragic cases of cultural genocide to emerge from the history of colonialism, enacted by four women whose stories follow each other like the cyclical seasons they represent.
Written in the spirit of Shuswap, a ?Trickster language” within which the hysterically comic spills over into the unutterably tragic and back, this play is haunted by the blood of the dead spreading over the landscape like a red mist of mourning.
Tomson Highway was born near Maria Lake, Manitoba in 1951. His father, Joe, was a hunter, fisherman and sled-dog racer, and his family lived a nomadic lifestyle. With no access to books, television or radio, Highway’s parents would tell their children stories; thus began Highway’s life-long interest in the oral tradition of storytelling. When he was six, Highway was taken from his family and placed in residential school in The Pas; he subsequently went to high school in Winnipeg and then travelled to London to study at the University of Western Ontario, earning a music degree in 1975 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1976. Instead of becoming a professional concert musician as he had at one point contemplated, however, Highway decided instead to dedicate his life to the service of his people. Fluent in Cree, English and French, he was for six years the artistic director of Native Earth Performing Arts, the first and most enduring Native professional company in Canada which he also helped found. From 1975 to 1978 Highway worked as a cultural worker for the Native Peoples’ Resource Centre. He has worked for the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Culture and also for the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres as a program analyst. From 1983 to 1985 he worked as a freelance theatre artist before becoming the artistic director of the De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Company in 1986. He has been writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and Concordia University. Tomson Highway is widely recognized for his tremendous contribution to the development of Aboriginal theatre in both Canada and around the world. In 1994, he was inducted into the Order of Canada, the first Aboriginal writer to be so honoured.
“The play is both laugh-out loud funny and a precarious high-wire act…”
— Globe & Mail