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Indigenous arts series unites through storytelling

'I wanted that feeling that we're in this together,' says host of Yonnhe'ón:we Indigenous Art Series
Collingwood Poet Laureate Jillian Morris will be hosting the Yonnhe'ón:we Indigenous Art Series, including the upcoming events on Feb. 15 and 22.

The Yonnhe'ón:we Indigenous Art Series is back.

Hosted by Collingwood's Poet Laureate, Jillian Morris, the art series aims to bring contemporary Indigenous storytelling to the community.

"We are trying to educate the broader community while also protecting and honouring our ancestors who have done a lot of work to preserve what we still have today," said Morris.

Morris is passionate about sharing the power of storytelling as a means of building relationships and promoting awareness. She said storytelling can help bridge the gap between different cultures and educate the broader community while honouring Indigenous heritage.

“I think that we need to bring into this community some level of storytelling that will allow us to learn from each other and build those relationships,” said Morris.

The inspiration for Yonnhe'ón:we came during a particularly significant time for Morris. Last August, she was feeling the weight of history and wanted to create a platform to share uplifting stories of inspiration and hope. 

“There is so much really good stuff happening and it kind of gets overshadowed by all the trauma and the really difficult history we have,” she said. “But I don’t want to get lost in that, I don’t want that to be where we stay.”

The series, which held its first event in November, will continue this month with two film nights at the Simcoe Street Theatre on Feb 15 and 22. Morris will host both evenings, introducing the films and possibly sharing some of her poetry. After each screening, there will be an opportunity to engage with the creators of the films.

The art series aims to create a sense of connection from one event to the next, emphasizing the diverse ways stories can be told. It will span four events, taking place in fall, winter, spring, and culminating next fall.

Morris chose the Simcoe Street Theatre intentionally due to its intimate setting, which holds up to 100 people. She wanted the audience to feel connected and part of the experience, highlighting the importance of community involvement.

“I didn’t want that feeling of separation, I wanted that feeling that we’re in this together,” she said. 

The collaboration with the town of Collingwood, specifically the Parks, Recreation, and Culture department, has also been essential to making this series a reality, said Morris.

“I could not do it without their support,” she said. 

One exciting aspect of the series is the inclusion of singer-songwriter J.D. Crosstown, a young musician who is quickly gaining recognition. Morris is also eager for people to experience Indigenous stories in a medium that has traditionally been Westernized. 

“We can marry some of these Western ways and Indigenous ways of doing things,” she said. “I think it’s another example of what reconciliation looks like in action.”

For more information about the Yonnhe'ón:we Indigenous Art Series and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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