Reclaiming our Aboriginal Languages: Forum Theatre


in which Aboriginal people

from many different First Nations across Canada

have come together to create audience-interactive plays

that bring out issues at the core of their struggles

with the loss of their traditional Aboriginal languages,

and the challenges of reclamation.

The 2006 ALLI forum theatre peice, Reclaiming our Aboriginal Languages, was performed on July 4th at the UBC First Nations House of Learning Longhouse. Six days of workshop prepared participants for the event.



About Forum Theatre
Student Reviews

Forum Theatre

Forum Theatre is a unique type of participatory theatre. The issues related to language loss and the challenges of reclamation are very complex, and impact on all generations in Aboriginal communities and, by extension, all communities. The plays that have been developed by the workshop participants are quite short. Each play is run once, all the way through, so the audience can see the situation and the problems presented. The play builds to a crisis and stops there, offering no solutions.

The play is then run again, and you as audience members are invited to participate. You can "freeze" the action at any point where you see a character struggling with a problem. When an audience member yells " stop! ", s/he then comes into the playing area to replace one of the characters whose struggle they understand. The audience member engages in the character's struggle, and tries out his/her idea of how that character might make different choices or of how to help move the situation to a more positive and empowering outcome.


Welcome: Musqueam Elder Larry Grant

Opening remarks: Patricia A. Shaw, Director, ALLI

Headlines Theatre Director: David Diamond

Participants and their Aboriginal language heritage

  • Betsy Ludwig: Gitxsan
  • Carrielynn Victor: Hulqemeylem, Pilalt, Sto:lo
  • Dale Steinhauer: Saddle Lake Cree Nation
  • Diana Steinhauer: Saddle Lake Cree Nation
  • Dustin Rivers: S k w x wu'7mesh, snichem
  • Herb Varley: Nuu-chah-nulth
  • Jean Cheekie: Sayisi Dene, Tadoule Lake
  • Larry Grant: Musqueam h ? n'q' ? min' ? m'
  • Laura Cranmer: Kwak'w a la, N a m g is
  • Louis Esme' Cruz: Mi'kmaq
  • Minetta McNaughton: Onondaga, Haudenosaunee/Six
  •                           Nations
  • Nadia Joe: Champagne Aishihik (S.Tutchone) / N ? a'kapmux
  • Sarah Spence: Cree, Sandy Bay First Nation
  • Sean John: Halqemeylem, Chawathil / Cree / Anishanabey
  • Stephen Lytton: N ? a'kapmux Nation, Thompson Interior
  •       Salish
  • Theresa Point: Hulqemeylem, Skowkale-Sto:lo

Closing remarks: Gitxsan Elder Doreen Jensen

Closing circle and smudge: Allanah E. Young

"A very moving experience that contributed on my overall understanding of the issues presented in the class." - FNLG 448H student



This special event is presented as part of the UBC Aboriginal Languages and Literacy Institute. ALLI is a collaborative initiative of the  First Nations Languages Program (FNLG), First Nations Studies Program (FNSP), and Department of Language and Literacy Education (LLED).

Special thanks to:

  • Patricia A. Shaw, Director, ALLI
  • Michelle La Flamme, ALLI-Headlines Project Coordinator
  • Dafne Blanco, Community Outreach, Headlines Theatre
  • Ralph Frank, Workshop Counsellor
  • Allanah E. Young, Counsellor, FNHL
  • Dolly Watts & Annie Watts, Liliget Catering
  • Robert Gardiner & Jay Henrickson, UBC Theatre Dept
  • Christine Wasiak, UBC First Nations Longhouse
  • Linc Kesler, FNSP

We gratefully acknowledge the support of:

  • The BC Ministry of Advanced Education
  • Aboriginal Special Projects Fund
  • The First Nations House of Learning, UBC
  • The Department of Theatre, UBC
  • The Faculty of Arts, UBC
  • The Faculty of Education, UBC

Click here to see the call for participants.

Aboriginal Languages and Literacy Institute


Buchanan C-354
1866 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC
V6T 1Z1