“One meaning of “Gwaandak” in the Gwich’in language is “storyteller”.
Gwaandak Theatre, the Yukon’s only Indigenous-centered theatre company, was founded in Whitehorse in 1999 by theatre artists Leonard Linklater and Patti Flather.
Gwaandak Theatre’s vision is to illuminate Indigenous and Northern stories around the world.
Our stories question, honour, and celebrate. They explore themes around decolonization, cultural identity, social justice, underrepresented voices and human rights. We tour to both tiny communities and major centres, and provide comprehensive study guides for secondary schools and colleges.
Gwaandak Theatre develops, produces and tours plays for both youth and adults. Our programming also includes new play workshops, readings and training for theatre artists.
Colin Wolf is is a Métis performer, theatre maker, and activist who was born and raised in the North-East of Moh’kins’tsis (Calgary), AB on Treaty 7 Territory. He is slowly reconnecting to his family’s language, Cree, and is able to speak French. He graduated with a BFA in Performance from the University of Lethbridge in 2014. His theatre work has focused on the development of new, Indigenous, and politically relevant theatre. After graduating, Colin co-founded Thumbs Up Good Work Theatre with his sister. Their most recent project, The Born Again Crow, explored themes of racism, capitalism, and violence. As an activist, Colin works towards subsistence, art, and most importantly: safety for all marginalised folx. He recognizes that there is no quick way to address colonial power structures, but as a colonially trained artist he has spent the last half decade working with Indigenous artists to de-colonize his practice. Colin is eager to start his journey in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council as the new Artistic Director at Gwaandak Theatre. He looks forward to continuing to learn from the founding Artistic Director, Patti Flather as they move through this transition together. If Colin isn’t Theatre-Making, he is arms deep in the garden, or hard at work making breads and baking. He endeavours to always have a few loaves of bread on hand to feed those around him.
Meredith Pritchard is a mullet toting theatre maker, a crocheting craft connoisseur, and a poorly written poetry writer. She is of Settler and Métis ancestry with recent cultural reconnection supported by family. She was born and raised in Moh’kins’tsis (Calgary, Alberta) on the ancestral and traditional lands of the Niitsitapi and the people of Treaty 7. Meredith holds her BFA in Performance from the University of Lethbridge (2014) as well as her diploma in Clinical Massage Therapy (2019). She has a great love for physical-based storytelling with an emphasis on exploring politics, gender, identity, and our ties to the environment. Meredith believes that art and healing go hand in hand and should be accessible to all regardless of socio-economic background. When Meredith isn’t making art you can usually find her running through the mountains with her wonder pup Ranger. Meredith is honoured to join the team at Gwaandak Theatre and to be a guest on the traditional lands of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.
Martin Nishikawa is a Whitehorse born theatre practitioner. Since 2011, he has worked across Canada at a variety of places. Some of those institutions include: Regina’s Globe Theatre, the National Arts Centre, Blyth Theatre festival, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Black Theatre Workshop. Martin strives to help people from across the country share their stories and connect with whoever will listen. Through art we can learn, and grow together. Martin is a graduate of the National Theatre School’s Production Design and Technical Arts program and has a Theatre Arts diploma from Mount Royal University. Martin has worked with Gwaandak in the past on several productions including: Paradise (2015), Bystander (2018) and Utszan (2019). Martin is excited to be a part of this team.
Savannah McKenzie is a Anishnaabe and Nehiyaw Metis woman currently residing on the traditional homelands of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in, in what is now known as Dawson City. She is a registered social worker practicing in Dawson City. Her entire social work practice focuses on anti-colonialism, cultural safety, and rebuilding and repairing the relationships between communities and social services. Savannah’s board experiences include North Island College (NIC) board of Governors, Education Council and its Policy Subcommittee. Additionally, she sat on the British Columbia Federation of Students’ Board of Directors as the Federation Representative for NIC and on the Canadian Federation of Students’ National Board as the Indigenous Student Representative. Gwaandak Theatre encompasses everything that she thinks is worth celebrating and working for; Indigenous stories and culture, social justice, acknowledging colonization and actively fighting it, and providing theatre to all communities, irrespective of size.
Mia Val ‘s a Bio and photo coming soon!
Jenna Winter is an arts manager and producer in Whitehorse, Yukon and former General Manager at Gwaandak Theatre. She moved north in 2018, following many years in Toronto as Managing Director and Artistic Associate at Mammalian Diving Reflex, where she produced and co-led artistic projects with local children, youth and seniors in more than 20 cities around the world. With a background in music and degrees in art history (B.A. McGill; M.A. York University), she has worked in theatre, music and the visual arts, including as Curatorial Assistant for the 2009 Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 2018, she was selected as 1 of 5 Canadian Delegates for the Salzburg Global Young Cultural Innovators Forum, a network in which she continues to be active. She is currently the Managing Producer at Nakai Theatre and is (nearly!) a certified bookkeeper.
Siku Allooloo is an Inuk/Haitian/Taíno writer, artist and community builder from Denendeh (NWT) and Pond Inlet, NU. She has been leading resurgence and decolonial work since 2012 through both community and cultural education programs on the land and through Indigenous arts, including creative non-fiction, poetry, and multimedia.
Tristen Westman is Northern Tutchone and a member of the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation in the Yukon. Growing up, she lived in Whitehorse YT and BC’s Lower Mainland. In 2015, she completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary studies from the University of British Columbia. During the following year, she participated in the Indigenous Youth Internship Program, where she had the opportunity to work within a Government Agency, as well as an Indigenous Organization. Tristen continues to be involved in working with Non-Profit Organizations. Aside from work, she enjoys outdoor activities, book club, and exploring her creativity through painting.
THE OBJECTIVES OF THE COMPANY ARE:
1) to develop and produce theatre with particular focus on revealing transformative stories, perspectives, voices;
2) to provide opportunities for Indigenous and Northern artists to gain professional experience and exposure on regional, national and international stages;
3) to foster relationships regionally, nationally and internationally with partners and communities in order to develop and share compelling stories;
4) to offer professional training and mentorship opportunities to emerging and established artists.