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Tara Beagan

Laureate, 2020

Image: Name, Title, Description



2020 Laureate

Tara Beagan is proud to be Ntlaka’pamux and, through her late father’s side, of Irish ancestry. She is cofounder/director of ARTICLE 11 with Andy Moro. Beagan served as Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts from February 2011 to December 2013. During her time, NEPA continued with traditional values for guidance, had an Elder in Residence, and named and moved into the Aki Studio. Beagan has been in residence at Cahoots Theatre (Toronto), NEPA (Toronto), the National Arts Centre (Ottawa) and Berton House (Dawson City, Yukon). She is now Playwright In Residence at Prairie Theatre Exchange (Winnipeg). Seven of her 28 plays are published. Two plays have received Dora Award nominations (one win). In 2018, Beagan was a finalist in the Alberta Playwrights’ Network competition. In 2020, Honour Beat won the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama. Recent premieres include Deer Woman in Aotearoa (New Zealand), Honour Beat opening the 2018/19 season at Theatre Calgary, The Ministry of Grace at Belfry Theatre in Victoria, and Super in Plays2Perform@Home with Boca Del Lupo (Vancouver).

Acceptance Speech

Humlt. Oki. Aniin. Tansi. Sago. Yaama. Kia Ora kou tou, all our family all around the world.

Ndijnakaaz Tara Beagan. My mom is Pauline Harry, now Beagan, of the Coldwater reserve.

My father was the late, great, Lou Beagan, raised on the red soil of Epekwitk.

Growing up a white presenting Ntlaka’pamux/Irish halfbreed on Blackfoot land, I felt part of a rich and complex community, on the periphery as well, as I was a settler, too. So I watched and I listened.

When I was three years old, my sister Rebecca would come home every day from kindergarten and teach me the lessons that she had learned there. She’s now a magnificent teacher for grade five students in French.

The first praise I recall receiving at school was for writing out full sentences- words that my sister had taught me.

An indelible lesson:

Words have power. Words articulate and therefore can change the world.

Humlt. I rarely heard the Ntlaka’pamux language in my home growing up.

When my Mom was a small child she was seized and then incarcerated for ten years at a residential school, and so her birthright to speak her mother tongue was stolen from her. She has comprehension, yes, but she is no longer fluent.

Fortunately, like many survivors, she adapted quickly and she thrived, and she shifting her love for story into English tellings.

Because of the parents that we grew up with, we grew up in a home full of books and with appreciation for story.

Aniin. Tansi. Sago. I grew up not speaking my mother’s mother tongue, but because of my work in theatre, I’ve been gifted these other words.

Words from extremely talented artists who have language.

Words that help me understand the lands we live on, that we belong to.

I came into my storytelling sovereignty in Tkaronto, the gathering place.

Neechies of every kind live there, many of whom I got the chance to work with at Native Earth Performing Arts. The Weesageechak Festival is in its 33rd year and it is online right now. It is vital to know the storytellers that belong to this land. I am so grateful that there are so many of us.

Humlt. Oki. Aniin. Tansi. Sago. Yaama. Kia Ora kou tou.

Miria George and Hone Kouka co-direct Tawata productions in Aotearoa.

Their brilliant mahi, their genuine commitment to artistic korero have created an artistic home for storytellers that belong to the land. Their work illuminates our people and that light spreads in the best possible ways. Their Kia Mau festival connects Aotearoa to Turtle Island and to all of our cousins in Australia. Yaama, Moogahlin, Yirra Yaakin, Ilbijerri, Hot Brown Honey.

All the cousins across the world- we create our own safe havens for creation. Access to resources and platforms are often denied us, unless we make them ourselves. Rare is the Canadian ally who will acknowledge their privilege and step aside and share that place with us. It is simple to do so. You simply acknowledge your privilege and make room. It doesn’t mean you’re gone. It means that we’re standing beside each other. And our presence connects you more to your space.

Oki Diana and Owen. I’m grateful that my niece and nephew connect me to this place where I build home with Andy Moro, the most generous and love-centred of all people. Mohkinstsis is a glorious place and our settler artistic community has a long way to go to match the gifts that the Niitsitapi have offered. And some of you are doing that good work and we see you.

My mom is comfy in her home now, watching one of her kids receiving this huge art prize. And her son Patrick is in Amiskwaciwâskahikan working on a world premiere. When our Mom was still in school, the movie theatres in Kamloops were just desegregated. She and her classmates went and saw a movie at the theatre for the first time. It was a western, but it’s a good reminder that change is incremental.

The world is asking us to hear her right now. When we’re all taking care of the land, the land takes care of us. A clear road to that way of being is through hearing Indigenous voices. We are here. We are many. Thank you for listening.

Gookschem xhoo.

It is my great honour as the 2020 Siminovitch Prize Laureate to name a protege. This outstanding young Kwe is a huge talent who tirelessly expands her skills, driven by passion for her community and the unique voice she’s been gifted. She is humble, kind and wise. Joelle Peters, I’m proud to stand with you.

2020 Protégé

Joelle Peters


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