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Cross-cultural opera documentary premieres at DOXA Festival

CapU's Heather Pawsey and friend Delphine Derickson of Westbank First Nation collaborate to decolonize a historic Canadian opera in this docu film premiering online and at VIFF Centre May 6
Lake Heather Delphine Corinne (2) Dance CROPPED
Heather Pawsey, Corinne Derickson and Delphine Derickson perform Corinne’s “nx̌aʔx̌aʔitkʷ dance” in John Bolton’s film The Lake/nx̌aʔx̌aʔitkʷ.

A historic cross-cultural collaboration between Vancouver’s Astrolabe Musik Theatre and Westbank First Nation has been captured in a documentary soon to premiere at this year’s DOXA Festival.

The music documentary about a friendship between Astrolabe’s Heather Pawsey, who also teaches at Capilano University, and Westbank’s Delphine Derickson shows the collaboration in which they decolonized a historic Canadian opera by incorporating syilx (Okanagan) perspectives.

The Lake/nx̌aʔx̌aʔitkʷ, which in syilx means “the sacred spirit of the lake,” brings to life Indigenous and non-Indigenous storytelling, music and dancing from the original production which debuted five years ago. The film by director John Bolton follows the misrepresentation of nx̌ax̌aitkʷ (ogopogo), the sacred being of the water.

“This film is the most exciting collaboration, historically, educationally, and culturally which will take people to a magical place they have never been before. People will feel, see and hear the true meaning of reality,” Derickson said. “Through the powerful blending of cultures through the magic of traditional song, opera and music, and microcosm of our early oral history, together we will build a connection and shift participants' resonance, and change lives.”

Showing at DOXA Festival, the annual documentary film festival in Vancouver, The Lake/nx̌aʔx̌aʔitkʷ will be shown in person and online, beginning May 5.

“The film examines concepts of privilege and representation in real time, with Pawsey and Derickson exploring the settler/Indigenous relationship and the boundaries of art, while also building something new and uniquely beautiful,” DOXA Festival wrote.

“This powerful celebration of cultures will be remembered for a long time to come. It is a blending of cultures which has been overdue. We must stand together as one, on our great land, and all our connections in the universe,” Derickson said.

When: May 5 - May 16

Where: Online and in-person at Vancity Theatre, VIFF Centre, 1181 Seymour St, Vancouver.

Cost: $10 - $15, tickets available online.

Charlie Carey is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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