Sisters of the North coming

photo courtesy of Ben Nind Three actresses – left to right, Ria Coleman, Natalie Labossiere and Tiffany Ayalik – perform in Sisters of the North.

photo courtesy of Ben Nind
Three actresses – left to right, Ria Coleman, Natalie Labossiere and Tiffany Ayalik – perform in Sisters of the North.

Glimpses into the lives of six remarkable northern women from the past – including Hay River’s Irma Miron – have been joined together into a new performance called Sisters of the North.

The show, which is described as a dramatic retelling of stories representing different times and cultures of the NWT, is comprised of short vignettes.

It will be presented at the Hay River Heritage Centre this month – in French on June 8 and in English on June 9.

The new creation from the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre stars Natalie Labossiere of Yellowknife, Ria Coleman of Fort Smith and Tiffany Ayalik of Yellowknife.

“It’s a storytelling style working with three actors,” said Labossiere, noting she and the other performers each play two of the women, as well as supporting characters.

Labossiere plays Miron, a well-known teacher and pioneer in Hay River who died in 2011.

She acts out a story of the first time Miron’s fisherman husband brought her to Hay River and showed her where they were to be living, an old railcar in West Channel.

In the story, Miron’s husband goes fishing and she opens up the railcar for the first time, said Labossiere. “And she describes what she sees and tries not to start crying.”

The actress admitted to feeling some pressure about playing Miron in the town in which she lived and is still fondly remembered.

“We’re very nervous when we come in, because we want to honour her the way that people have known and honoured her and appreciated her in their own lives,” she said.

Labossiere also plays Jeannie Gilbert, who was one of the first female pilots in the territories.

The other women from the past in Sisters of the North are:

  • Thanadelthur, The Peacemaker, who set out on a mission to negotiate peace between the Cree and the Chipewyan in the early 1700s.

  • Catherine Beaulieu Bouvier Lamoureux (1836–1918), who was a highly-respected Metis matriarch of the Deh Cho in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • Sarah Simon (1901-2001), who helped shape the Mackenzie Delta as an adoptive mother, midwife and woman of the church.

  • Agnes Semmler (1911-2002), who was a pioneer in achieving recognition for native people’s involvement in community, regional and national affairs. In 1975, she was the first Northern native woman to be appointed a justice of the peace.

“We are trying to honour not just persons but cultures, as well,” said Labossiere.

Sisters of the North was written by and is directed by Ben Nind.

During the visit to Hay River, there will be performances at Diamond Jenness Secondary School, Ecole Boreale, Princess Alexandra School and at Chief Sunrise Education Centre on the Hay River Reserve.

Prior to coming to Hay River, there will also be performances in Yellowknife, Fort Resolution and Fort Smith.

–Paul Bickford