This research project explores the origins and creation of Going Home Star: a Story of Truth and Reconciliation. Commissioned by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), Going Home Star is a collaboration between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists—author Joseph Boyden, composer Christos Hatzis, choreographer Mark Godden, and musicians Tanya Tagaq and Steve Wood of the Northern Cree Singers, among others—that responds to the impacts of the Indian Residential Schools (IRS). As TRC commissioner Justice Murray Sinclair cautioned, the Western elite performance genre of ballet seems an unlikely venue to tell the story of the IRS, and this project investigates the collaborative tensions in aestheticizing the cultural trauma felt by generations of aboriginal victims.
The opera Pimooteewin (The Journey), with libretto by Tomson Highway, music by Melissa Hui, and choreography and direction by Michael Greyeyes, is the first opera with a Cree language libretto. It was premiered in Toronto in February 2008, and subsequently toured northern Ontario. In the first phase of this project, we examined Pimooteewin as a model of collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous creative partners in bringing a staged musical theatre work to life.
Activity in this part of the project included interviewing composer Christos Hatzis, RWB Executive Director Jeff Herd, RWB Artist Director Andre Lewis, and choreographer Mark Godden. Jeremy Strachan, research assistant, wrote a brief report on the TRC and its relation to reconciliation efforts globally. In June 2015, Robin Elliott and Strachan co-authored and co-presented their research at the annual meeting of the Canadian University Music Society.