Hi! My name is Hayden Reeve!
You might recognize my last name as I am the daughter of one of the Mamas! I am going to tell you about my experience at YouthWrite®. For a little introduction, it is a non-profit organization with camps for children who love to write. There is also a separate camp for adults who also enjoy writing! Today though, we are going to be discussing the camp for, well, youth!
Something that I think is quite important and an absolutely excellent characteristic about YouthWrite is the fact that they have a figuratively speaking, bubble type of deal around them.
Located a little over an hour and a half northeast of Edmonton is where you will find Métis Crossing, Alberta’s first major Métis Cultural Interpretive destination.
I can still picture the place perfectly. My very own grown-up studio loft. It’s at least 1500 square feet of wide-open space. Long, narrow, two-story, stained-glass windows with arches, frame the room on either side. My bed is centered on the far-back brick wall with soft linen sheets tossed perfectly imperfect. Thin hardwood floors in a herringbone pattern, with markings of time gone by, connect my bed to my art studio which occupies at least 2/3 of the wide-open space. I have come to realize this place I picture is unusually grand for a single room in New York City, but that was my vision.
I think it was about grade 11 that I placed my vision in NYC, but I was about 5 when I decided I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I spent hours sketching Betty and Veronica fashion spreads while I started to picture details of this space in my mind. It’s no wonder I ended up in the interior design industry specializing in textiles.
I’m Teneil Whiskeyjack. I am originally from Saddle Lake Cree Nation and a mother of 2. My daughter is 17 and my son is 7, both at different stages in their lives.
As a single mother and working artist, the demands of career, life and our own autonomy in systems that can make us feel depleted, it can be challenging to find the balance in it all. The expectations we put on our ourselves as mothers, always asking “am I doing this right?” Truth is, there is no manual to parenting and parenting looks different for many in terms of culture, values, family traditions and beliefs.
Becoming a mother for the first time at such a young age, I admittedly didn’t know myself well enough to give reverence to a tender, compassionate, and patient relationship that I needed within myself. As time moved forward, I wanted to find peace in my journey and the grounding my children and I needed and deserved. I looked at the both of them and wanted them to see a mom that was vibrant, strong, present and healthy.
As women, we are taught to put others before ourselves, leaving no room for our own curiosities, or relationships to our bodies and spirit. Going back to my culture and ceremony as an Indigenous woman meant going back to land-based practices, asking myself what it means to me to be a nehiyaw iskwew (cree woman) today, learning to ask for help within safe spaces of community and kin and reminding myself that parenting is one of the most sacred responsibilities we carry as life givers. I believe our children choose us to be their parents before they are born.
I was an artist growing up. I loved to tell stories in various ways. I took a step back from creating all together for many years and what was once my solace, was no longer existent as I allowed myself to live for other’s expectations of me, in the confines of societal pressures, and a life from the choices I made that wasn’t in alignment to my truth. I doubted my aspirations and capabilities until there came a shifting cycle in my womanhood where I wanted to gain deeper insight to who I was and why I walked in footsteps that no longer resonated with me or my heart.
SkirtsAfire Festival in Edmonton is self-described as “diverse, inclusive and daring”, guaranteeing there’s something for everyone at their 10th anniversary festival, running March 3-13 in Old Strathcona. With the ever-changing pandemic climate we’re all navigating, there is one thing for certain – SkirtsAfire will offer 10 days of engaging and entertaining performances and experiences!
We have taken in their MainStage Productions since 2017 as well as Opening Night Parties, and of course, the fantastic SkirtsAfire Skirt Design Competition. Featuring the work of women and non-binary folks in the arts in Edmonton – MARCH 3-13, 2022. Check out SkirtsAfire, experiencing theatre, visual art, design, music, comedy, and more.
I don’t celebrate Christmas, I never have. I grew up in beautiful Jasper National Park. Although now it is a lovely diverse community, when I was growing up in the 90’s it wasn’t so diverse. There were not even a handful of Muslim families and basically 2 Arab families. Finding a sense of community based on my faith and heritage was impossible.
Luckily for me, although predominantly Caucasian, the community of Jasper National Park is made up of some of the most amazing, supportive and accepting people I have ever met. We weren’t the only minorities, but for me it sure seemed so!
In June 2020, I found myself pregnant with my second child. I rolled my eyes at becoming a part of the now famous “Covid-baby club.” It’s a popular club for a reason and I was now a happy member.
We had just recently and successfully hosted our 8th annual SkirtsAfire Festival in March, about a week before the lockdowns began. I remember enjoying the spring and the start of summer, feeling optimistic that in a month or two, things would return to normal and we would all get back to our festival city as planned. Then slowly but surely, things started getting postponed, then canceled, and our case numbers took a sharp turn for the worse.
Through it all, as I grew this baby mostly isolated to my home, we planned for SkirtsAfire 2021: a return to indoor in-person performances in a safe way.
Old Strathcona, Downtown and Alberta Ave
by Annette Loiselle, Artistic Director
As Edmonton’s only theatre and multidisciplinary arts festival featuring women, we are excited to announce that SkirtsAfire is expanding this year with more venues, new experimental shows and artistic growth. We will be in Old Strathcona with our MainStage play The Blue Hour by Michele Vance Hehir (a must-see), Downtown with music and cabaret at Station on Jasper and The Nook Cafe, and we are back on Alberta Avenue, the community where we started, with brand new shows in drumming, dance and so much more. There’s a lot going on at SkirtsAfire over our 10-day festival, so here is a simplified overview – venue by venue, community by community.
My first born. This beautiful, tall, lean, long physique, gorgeous smile, thoughtful, patient, gooby sense of humour, mini-man. And promptly burst into tears. It has been such a surprisingly long road, it’s not over, but man!
Suddenly he’s 16 and adulthood is around the corner. For him! I can barely believe that I’m no longer the “young adult”. I still can’t exhale. I’m still scared. When he was first born, to the oft asked “How is he? How is motherhood?” I would reply, “Still alive,” not because he had any history of disease, but because it was my new mantra and let’s be honest, many an African violet and bamboo plant have expired in my care. And now I had a human?!?!