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Take the Indian: Music and reflection about reconciliation at CMHR

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News release details

A special performance of composer Andrew Balfour's original work Take the Indian: A Vocal Reflection on Missing Children will be held at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) next week, in partnership with Camerata Nova. The evening will include a traditional ceremony and a panel discussion with Indigenous Elders who are residential school survivors.

Balfour, who is of Cree descent, created this moving piece about the dark legacy of Indian Residential Schools after attending hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It will be performed by Winnipeg vocal group Camerata Nova, founded by Balfour, who acts as its artistic director. Conducted by Mel Braun, the piece (written for choir) includes cello by Yuri Hooker, traditional drumming by Cory Campbell and choreography by Balfour – in the role of "wounded Indian," with others portraying trickster, traditional Indigenous Elder spirit, crows (priests) and children.

The CMHR has helped organize this event as part of its commitment to contribute to the national conversation about reconciliation in diverse and meaningful ways. Admission is $18 for adults. Those who attend will receive a free Museum pass so they can explore The Witness Blanket, a powerful art installation made from 800 pieces of residential schools from all across Canada, before the exhibition closes on June 25.

What: Take the Indian: performance and discussion with survivors

When: Wednesday, May 25, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Canadian Museum for Human Rights, 85 Israel Asper Way

Take the Indian was originally commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for the 2015 New Music Festival, where it had its world premiere. The title refers to the official intention of residential schools to "take the Indian out of the child". Balfour said he hoped to reclaim hurtful words used against Indigenous children and use them in a way to promote healing. Read a blog by Balfour about his piece.

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