The Mush Hole

Truth, Acknowledgement, Resilience

Created, Directed and Produced by Santee Smith
Remount Produced by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre

Study Guide

Introduction

This guide was co-written by Santee Smith and Marjie Chud. Santee, a multidisciplinary artist from the Kahnyen’kehàka Nation, Turtle Clan, Six Nations of the Grand River, is the creator, director and producer of The Mush Hole. Along with her artistic practice, Santee is currently the Chancellor of McMaster University. Marjie is a second generation Canadian, originally from Montreal, Quebec and acknowledges that her contributions to this guide are from a settler perspective. She is a theatre artist, educator, administrator, and member of the Ontario College of Teachers. She is committed to continued learning about the history of this country and Indigenous people as part of her understanding of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

As you scroll through the guide, you will find the usual sections included in all our guides: curriculum connections, discussion questions, units of study and more. If you wish to create your own lesson plan from the study guide copy, we have created a lesson plan template for your use. We hope you will find this guide to be a useful resource. Should you have any questions or feedback or have inquiries about the use of this guide, please contact Karen Gilodo, Associate Artistic Director, Education at kgilodo@youngpeoplestheatre.org.

Thematic Overview

The Mush Hole reflects the realities of the Mohawk Institute Residential School experience and offers a way to open dialogue and to heal, through acknowledgement and honouring the spirit of Survivors and families that were impacted. The Mush Hole moves through the devastation of Residential School with grace and hope for transformation. Opening a small window into the atrocities inflicted on thousands of Indigenous children, it attempts to close the door on historical amnesia. A haunting portrayal weaves through memories of Survivors, reliving traumas, school life, stripping away of Indigenous culture, remembrance, returning to find each other and the lifting of shame associated with abuse. Residential School and the continuing institutionalized erasure and extermination of Indigenous lives and culture is an issue that affects all Canadians.” – Santee Smith, creator, director and producer of The Mush Hole.

The Mohawk Institute (a.k.a. the Mush Hole) is the oldest Residential School in Canada, after which all others were modeled. Operated in Brantford, Ontario from 1828 to 1970, it served as an industrial boarding school for First Nations children from Six Nations, as well as other communities throughout Ontario and Quebec. It was a key tool in the effort to assimilate First Nations children into European Christian society, and to sever the continuity of culture from parent to child, leaving a legacy of trauma. For 142 years, the school was run in a military style. Children aged 2-16 learned very little in the way of schooling, but rather served as labourers. Whether sent, kidnapped or orphaned, children experienced a range of mistreatment including sexual abuse, imposed food deprivation experiments and severe corporeal punishment at the hands of faculty and staff. After closing in 1970, it reopened in 1972 as the Woodland Cultural Centre.

In 2013, the results of a Six Nations of the Grand River community referendum reflected a 98% vote in favour of restoring the Residential School as opposed to demolishing it. The reasons for restoration of the site are to:

  • transform it into an educational site, to continue to expose and reflect on the truths of the Canadian government/church assimilation policies.
  • remember and support Survivors and their legacies and confront inter-generational traumas.
  • uphold the spirit of children that “served time” in the schools, such as runaway Joey Commanda, a 13-year-old Algonquin boy who was struck and killed on the Oakville train tracks on September 3,1968 while trying to return to his home in Golden Lake.

“He was described in the official report as a ‘trespasser’, not as a brave and hungry Native boy on his way to a distant home. No one was held responsible for the death of Joseph William Commanda. I don’t know if a ceremony was ever done at the place where he was hit by the train, on the number 3 track in those railyards, I hope his spirit is not confined at the Mush Hole.” – Doug George-Kanentiio, Residential School Survivor

In 2014, the Mohawk Institute “Save the Evidence” campaign began and it will continue until the building is renovated alongside the Mohawk Memorial Park.

Since 2016, the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario has offered production support, creation residencies and work-in-progress showcase performances. Santee Smith began the initial concept for this dance performance during the University of Waterloo’s Mush Hole Project 2016 in association with the Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford. The Mush Hole addresses the Truth and Reconciliation Report’s Calls to Action: the Covenant of Reconciliation (#46); Education and Reconciliation (#62, #63); and Newcomers to Canada sharing of true histories of Canada including Residential School legacy (#93). Santee’s vision began as a short performance installation created inside the Boys’ Playroom of the Mohawk Institute.

The Mush Hole was created in connection with Residential School Survivors incorporating their writings, interviews and the Survivor Series Talks as part of the process of commemorating and healing through the sharing of truth. Survivors had a chance to witness and offer feedback to the performance along the way, and they continue to shape and deepen the portrayals of truth.

The Mush Hole performance brought back memories and was very validating emotionally. I was able to relate to the chaos and turmoil in a relationship that was so similar to my own. I lived that life I was seeing on stage. The impacts of Residential School are deep and left me with emotional and psychological scars.”
– Roberta Hill, Residential School Survivor

“If only we could have danced…”
– Doug George-Kanentiio

“My great grandmother and grandfather attended the Mohawk Institute. And like most people, I grew up not knowing about the atrocities that occurred inside the Canadian government and Anglican Church governed schools.”
– Santee Smith

Synopsis

“When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with its parents, who are savages, and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and training mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has been strongly impressed upon myself, as head of the Department, that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”
– John A. MacDonald, 1883 – Prime Minister of Canada

The Mush Hole travels into the environment and experiences of Residential School students, as well as the outcomes for their parents. It incorporates the bricks and mortar of the grounds and rooms of the Mohawk Institute.

  • The Boys’ Playroom is represented as a place where boys were made to fight, where there was once a small jail cell, and no toys. This basement room was where boys hugged the hot water pipes for warmth, and the window where they looked out down the long driveway, waiting for parents or family who might take them home – or not.
  • The cubbyhole under the staircase was barely a room and was used for solitary confinement.
  • The boiler room was loud and concealed Survivors’ cries from sexual abuse, mostly perpetrated on boys.
  • The laundry room was where the girls laboured, and was another loud room where acts of abuse could be hidden.
  • The visitation room was where parents had supervised visits and where gifts and packages were taken away from children by staff. These visits were so stressful for children and parents that the majority of time was spent crying.

The “Mush Hole” is the nickname the students and the Six Nations community gave to the school because mush was the staple food. Mush was often served three times a day and was sometimes wormy. Hunger and lack of food was a regular part of the Residential School experience.

Two generations of Survivors are represented in the play, demonstrating the intergenerational effects and the long history of Residential Schools. Impacts on parents included the inability to love, alcoholism and posttraumatic stress disorder issues. Students were dehumanized by having to be identified by their school number, not their names. Survivors’ numbers, graffiti in brick scratches and hidden chalk and pencil scribbles are all still present at the Mohawk Institute.

“I want to get rid of the Indian problem…our objective is to continue until there is not an Indian that has not been absorbed into the body politic, and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department…”
– Duncan Campbell Scott, 1920 – Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs from 1913 until 1932

Primary Ancestral Teaching

  • Truth

Themes

  • Engaging with Truth and Reconciliation and the legacy of Residential Schools
  • Importance of family and love
  • Breaking down stereotypes
  • Resilience
  • Empathy

Curriculum Connections

  • Social Studies – Heritage and Identity
  • First Nations, Metis and Inuit Studies
  • Canadian and World Studies
  • Language Arts/English
  • The Arts: Drama and Dance

Glossary

Choral Speaking: The reading or reciting of a text by a group. Preparation for a performance may involve interpretation of the text and experimentation with language, rhythm, volume, pace and different numbers of voices.

Mirroring: A type of improvisation. Two students face each other. Student A initiates the movement, while student B follows, maintaining eye contact as appropriate. Students switch roles after a set time.

Monologue: A long speech by one character, intended to provide insight into the character.

Movement vocabulary: A repertoire of steps, movements and sequences that are used in creating a dance piece. They can be particular to a specific dance form (e.g., traditional dance) or more personal (e.g., creative dance).

Note about Cultural Appropriation
We encourage teachers to have important conversations with their students while being mindful of the dangers of cultural appropriation. As represented by the phrase “Nothing about us without us” it is recommended to always include Indigenous peoples and resources when planning your lessons and teaching indigenous curriculum, especially when telling cultural stories. Here are some resources that may be helpful:

TDSB Urban Indigenous Education Centre

TDSB Resources for Indigenous Education

OISE – Understanding Indigenous Perspectives

Narrative: A spoken or written account of connected events; a story.

Perspective: A character’s particular attitude toward something.

Point of View: Focus on a particular character or voice telling the story.

”Serving time”: The way Survivors qualify their time spent at the Residential School, and its parallel with imprisonment.

Spoken Word: A broad designation for poetry intended for performance. Though some spoken word poetry may also be published on the page, the genre has its roots in oral traditions and performance. Spoken word can encompass or contain elements of rap, hip-hop, storytelling, theatre, jazz, rock, blues and folk music. Characterized by rhyme, repetition, improvisation, and word play, spoken word poems frequently refer to issues of social justice, politics, race and community.

Stream of Consciousness: A literary style in which a character’s thoughts, feelings and reactions are depicted in a continuous flow uninterrupted by objective description or conventional dialogue.

Tableau: A frozen image to represent a scene, theme, abstract idea or an important moment in a narrative.

Writing in Role: Writing done from the point of view of a character to deepen the writer’s understanding of the character and create or develop scenes that reflect this understanding. Some examples of forms that may be used include diaries, letters and reports on specific events that indicate the character’s responses to those events.

Pre-Show Discussion Questions

Ask students:

  1. What do you know about the Indigenous people who lived on this land; their heritages, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs?
  2. What do you know about Canada’s historic relationship with First Nations people?
  3. What do you know about Residential Schools?
  4. Why were Residential Schools created, and what was their objective?
  5. How important is it to feel loved?
  6. What is the meaning of “family” to you?
  7. How would you define ”home”? “Truth”? ”Resilience’?
  8. How does it feel to be powerless in a situation? What can you do to gain power?
  9. How can somebody’s body language show how they feel?
  10. What shapes people’s view of others? The world?
  11. What are some steps you can take to learn something new?

Pre-Show Unit

Pre-Show Activity #1: Issues Affecting Indigenous Communities in Canada

Objective:

Using the drama convention of tableau, students will explore issues that affect Indigenous communities in Canada.

Curriculum Expectations:

By participating in these exercises, students will:

DRAMA

  • engage actively in drama exploration and role play, with a focus on examining issues and themes in fiction and non-fiction sources from diverse communities, times and places;
  • plan and shape the direction of the drama or role play by collaborating with others to develop ideas, both in and out of role;
  • understand and apply the elements of drama, including character, relationships, setting, tension, focus and emphasis;
  • use the elements of drama to suit an identified purpose and form in drama presentations.

SOCIAL STUDIES, HISTORY, CANADIAN AND WORLD STUDIES

  • analyse some key short- and long-term consequences of interactions among and between First Nations and European settlers;
  • describe significant features of and interactions between communities;
  • apply the creative process individually and/or collaboratively to create art works, including integrated art works/productions that draw on their exploration of First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives to express their own personal worldviews, histories or cultures;
  • analyse some ways in which challenges affecting First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals and families in relating to the Residential School system and apprehension of children today, such as the Child Welfare system;
  • describe the ongoing challenges and struggles facing various racial, cultural or national minority groups in Canada, including First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples and Newcomers;
  • describe a variety of historical and contemporary examples of inequity and social injustice in Canada.

Materials:

Space to move; resources to research issues affecting Indigenous communities in Canada; laptops or computers.

Directions:

Warm-Up (Name/Action)

  1. Define the word tableau (see Glossary).
  2. Standing in a circle, ask students, one at a time, to say their name aloud while freezing in a tableau that describes an activity they enjoy doing (i.e. “Naz/painting”, “Sam/playing video games”), after which the class repeats each student’s name and action.

Exercise (Tableau Objects)

  1. Instruct students to begin moving around the space in silence. Call out a number, such as five, directing students to form groups corresponding to that number. Repeat with several numbers.
  2. Once students are comfortable with joining in groups, call out the number two and direct students to create a tableau with their partner to represent one object together, such as a chair. Repeat the exercise with various numbers and objects.

Ask students:

  • What are some of the challenges in making tableaux?
  • What are the steps your group used to collaborate?

Culminating Activity (Tableau Narratives)

  1. Continue the exercise above using the following words: family; power; struggle; respect; inequality; support; negotiation; community; collaboration; justice; injustice.
  2. Discuss what are some issues affecting Indigenous communities in Canada? (See resource list at the end of this study guide and provide time for research if necessary.)
  3. Divide students into groups of five or six and direct them to create a tableau to represent the issue of their choice (reminding them to use character, space, gesture, facial expressions and levels to communicate the message of their image). Name this tableau #2.
  4. Next, ask the same groups to create a tableau to represent what they believe to have caused this problem (tableau #1) followed by a third tableau (tableau #3) to represent what they believe to be an action towards resolution.
  5. Finally, direct each group to connect their tableaux together to create a story (1-2-3 or beginning-middle-end).
  6. Present.

Debriefing Questions
Ask students:

  • How could you tell the meaning of the tableaux when there were no words used?
  • Were there common themes in the issues shared?
  • Should these issues be of concern for all Canadians, and why?

Extension Activities:

  1. Write stories or create scenes from the tableaux.
  2. Write personal narratives for the characters in their tableaux.
  3. Further research issues affecting Indigenous communities.

Pre-Show Activity #2 – The Meaning of Home

Objective:

In these activities, students will explore the meaning of home through personal narrative, poetry and spoken word.

Curriculum Expectations:

By participating in these exercises, students will:

DRAMA

  • work individually and collaboratively to generate, gather and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience;
  • apply the critical analysis process to communicate feelings, ideas and understandings in response to a variety of drama works and experiences;
  • use the elements of drama to suit an identified purpose and form in drama presentations.

SOCIAL STUDIES, HISTORY, CANADIAN AND WORLD STUDIES

  • describe the complexities of the relationship between an individual’s cultural heritage and Canadian values, beliefs and practices.

LANGUAGE ARTS/ENGLISH

  • communicate orally for a range of purposes, using language appropriate for the intended audience;
  • use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Materials:

Paper and pens; cue cards; laptops or computers.

Directions:

Warm-Up (Reflection)

  1. Ask students to list some of the locations or places they have lived.
  2. Now ask them to close their eyes and picture one location in their mind.
  3. Ask them to imagine what they see, smell, hear and do there.
  4. Instruct students to open their eyes and list as many words as possible that came to mind from their reflection.

Exercise (Poetry Writing)

  1. Define the term stream of consciousness (see Glossary).
  2. Using the prompt ”Home feels like…”, direct students to write continuously for two minutes.
  3. Direct students to review their writing and cross out unnecessary words; i.e. the words that are not necessary or directly related to the theme. This will be different for each student.
  4. Hand out one cue card to each student. Instruct students to stream the remaining words together in an order they would like and record their written piece on a cue card. Advise them that they will be sharing this with the class.

Ask students:

  • How did it feel to eliminate some of the words you wrote?
  • How did you decide which words to keep?

Culminating Exercise (Choral Poetry)

  1. Ask students what they know about choral speaking (see Glossary). Brainstorm some of the ways in which the words they wrote can be spoken (i.e. whisper, scream, repeat, etc.).
  2. Group students in pairs or groups of three and instruct them to share their work with each other. Challenge them to collaborate in creating a collective piece of poetry, which they will then perform for their class.
  3. Present.

Debriefing Questions

  • What were some commonalities between each of the examples discussed? Are there any patterns?
  • What are some of the ways that citizens have reacted to/protested the authoritarian regime they are/were living under?
  • How did the way that each group presented their findings help with understanding the content of their research?

Extensions Activities:

  1. Add music as background to the poetry pieces. How does this affect the performance?
  2. Add movement to the group poetry pieces.
  3. Revisit personal poetry to expand on it and create spoken word pieces (see Glossary).

Post-Show Discussion Questions

Ask students:

  • What are the creative conventions used to tell the story of The Mush Hole?
  • How does the audience understand what is happening in a scene when there is very little or no speaking involved?
  • What movement techniques does the ensemble use to convey these ideas to the audience?
  • How is power demonstrated in the performance?
  • How are each of the characters in the play affected by Residential School?
  • What do you imagine are the long-term effects of Residential Schools?
  • There are many public schools named after Sir John A. MacDonald in Canada. Do you think they should remain? Why or why not?
  • Why and how do you think people are able to survive difficult situations?
  • What actions can people take to learn more about other cultures?

Post-Show Unit

Post-Show Activity #1 – Residential Schools, Perspectives and Points of View

Objective:

Students will explore connections to themes of The Mush Hole by engaging in activities exploring self and character emotions, gestures for meaning, and by writing in role.

Curriculum Expectations:

By participating in these exercises, students will:

DRAMA

  • describe some of the ways in which people’s roles, relationships and responsibilities relate to who they are and what their situation is, and how and why changes in circumstances might affect people’s roles, relationships and responsibilities as well as their sense of self;
  • construct personal interpretations of drama works, connecting drama issues and themes to their own and others’ ideas, feelings and experiences;
  • apply the critical analysis process to communicate feelings, ideas and understandings in response to a variety of drama works and experiences;
  • explain how dramatic exploration can contribute to personal growth and self-understanding.

SOCIAL STUDIES, HISTORY, CANADIAN AND WORLD STUDIES

  • identify some key factors that contributed to the establishment of the Residential School system;
  • describe how the Residential School system and other government policies and legislation, as well as the attitudes that underpinned them, affected and continue to affect First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals;
  • demonstrate an understanding of Canada’s historical and current relationship with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

LANGUAGE ARTS, ENGLISH

  • communicate orally for a range of purposes, using language appropriate for the intended audience;
  • use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes;
  • generate, gather and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience.

Materials:

Writing instruments; space to move

Directions:

Warm-Up (Emotional Counts)

  1. Ask students to find a space in the room for themselves.
  2. Using the emotion ”happy”, direct students to demonstrate the emotion without words. Explain that you will now count from zero (least) to five (most) as they explore different levels of the emotion.
  3. Ask students to notice how their bodies change as the emotions become more extreme.
  4. Repeat with “sad”, “angry” and “scared”.

Exercise (Gestures)

  1. In pairs, ask students to communicate the following gestures non-verbally: stop; shhhh; leave; please.
  2. Invite volunteers to share other non-verbal gestures with the class.
  3. With the same partners, create non-verbal gestures for the following sentences: “Come over here!”, “I can’t hear you!”, and “I didn’t do it!”
  4. Invite volunteers to demonstrate other non-verbal phrases for the class to guess.

Ask students:

  • Did you know what was being communicated, and if so, how?
  • If you did not understand, what could have helped?
  • How do you think this exercise is connected to The Mush Hole?

Culminating Activity (Writing in Role: Perspective and Point of View)

  • Ask students to close their eyes and reflect on the play as you read the song lyrics of Find My Way aloud (see Appendix A).
  • Discuss what and how the song makes them think and feel.
  • Share the following information with students on the board, an anchor chart or a handout:
    • The Mush Hole Characters:
      #48/Ernest: a son, father, husband
      #29/Mabel: a daughter, mother, wife
      Ernest and Mabel met at Residential School and had a family, a son and a daughter.
      #34/Walter: a son, brother, student
      #17/Grace: a daughter, sister, student
      #11/A girl with no name or family, the runaway: “the one who got away”
  • Discuss the meanings of perspective and point of view (see Glossary). Ask for examples about what these lyrics might mean to each of the characters in the play.
  • Ask students to imagine themselves as younger children. What is one thing they know now that they wish they would have known then? Ask for volunteers to share their answers.
  • Instruct students to choose one of the young characters in the play and imagine themselves as the adult version of this character. Now, imagine, ”in role”, what the adult character would want to say to their younger self during the action of the play.
  • Instruct students to write a letter “in role” as the adult character to the younger character in Residential School.

Debriefing Questions

Ask students:

  • What are the challenges, if any, of writing “in role”?
  • Does assuming the role of another person change your understanding or opinion of that person?
  • What are some of the ways people cope in difficult situations?
  • Does time and perspective affect individuals? If so, how?

Extension Activities

  1. 1. Ask students to write a short script for a scene from the play individually, in pairs or in small groups.
  2. 2. Explore the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action with students and create individual/personal and class/collective calls to action.

Post-Show Activity #2 – Movement, Power, and Storytelling

Objective:

Through identification of the production elements in The Mush Hole, students will explore the use of music to create movement and story.

Curriculum Expectations:

By participating in these exercises, students will:

DANCE

  • apply the critical analysis process to communicate their feelings, ideas and understandings in response to a variety of dance pieces and experiences;
  • use dance as a language to communicate ideas from their own writing or media works;
  • use the elements of dance and choreographic forms to communicate a variety of themes or moods;
  • construct personal interpretations of the messages in their own and others’ dance pieces, including messages about issues relevant to their community and/or the world;
  • identify and give examples of their strengths and areas for growth as dance creators, interpreters and audience members.

DRAMA

  • interpret short drama works and identify and explain their personal response to the works;
  • explain how dramatic exploration can contribute to personal growth and self-understanding;
  • identify aesthetic and technical aspects of drama works and explain how they help achieve specific dramatic purposes.

SOCIAL STUDIES

  • identify a specific need related to an equity or social justice issue, and design an initiative to address this need.

Materials:

Space to move.

Directions:

  • Instruct students to walk around the room, focusing on filling up any empty space. Encourage them to add some variation to their movement by adding different gestures as they walk around (for example, they might move their arms, take different sized steps, change their posture, change their speed, etc.).
  • Choose one student to be the “leader.” Instruct everyone else to follow the leader around the room, matching their movements exactly. You may wish to change the leader every few minutes.
  • Repeat the exercise, this time telling students that they are allowed to choose to break away from the leader and start moving independently. Students who have broken away from the main group may choose to return at any point.

Debriefing Questions:

  1. Was it easier or harder to move around the room when you had to follow someone else’s movements?
  2. How did you feel when you were leading the group?
  3. If you chose to break off from the group, what led you to that decision?
  4. If you chose to follow the leader rather than break off from the group, what led you to that decision?
  5. Was it easier to comply with what the rest of the group was doing, or to not comply and break away?

Post-show Activity: Using Movement to Tell a Story

Objective:

Students will use movement to communicate meaning and explore how a story can be told without using words.

Materials:

Space to move around.

Directions:

Warm-Up (Mirroring)

  1. In pairs, students choose who will be A and B.
  2. Students face each other. Ask them to be still, as if looking in a mirror. Student A initiates a movement while student B follows and maintains eye contact throughout. Encourage students to move slowly and with intention.
  3. Repeat the exercise with B leading. After a while, challenge the students to take turns leading without verbal decision-making.

Ask students:

  • What did it feel like to be in both the A and B role?
  • How does it feel to be in control/controlled?
  • How does the theme of power connect to The Mush Hole?

Exercise (Fairy Tale in a Minute)

  1. Divide students into groups of four or five.
  2. Each group will choose one fairy tale.
  3. Ask students to re-tell their fairy tales with their group one sentence at a time, reminding everyone of the details.
  4. Tell students they will perform their fairy tale for each other, and give them some time to rehearse.
  5. When students are ready to perform, add the time restriction of performing in only one minute.
  6. Have groups perform one after the other and lead directly into the debriefing questions below.

Ask students:

  • How did it feel to be given the last-minute time restriction?
  • As a performer, what did you have to do to ensure the whole story was told?

Culminating Activity (Movement and Storytelling)

  1. Discuss the production elements in The Mush Hole (i.e. music, sound, lighting, props, set, costume, etc.).
  2. Brainstorm how the use of production, design, staging and movement elements enhanced the telling of the story of Residential Schools.
  3. Discuss what issues of power or conflict arise for youth today.
  4. Divide students into groups of four or five.
  5. With only one minute, ask each group to choose an issue of power or conflict that affects young people today.
  6. Play the music clip below and ask students to listen silently. Tell students they will be creating a story to this music with movement only.
  7. As the music plays again, ask students to choose what characters might be in this story. They only have two minutes.
  8. Repeat step seven, only this time students must choose the setting for their story during their two-minute discussion.
  9. Repeat, only this time groups discuss what the story will be about (beginning/middle/end).
  10. Ask students to listen to the music, improvise physically and create the story with movement only.
  11. When ready, ask students to stop and give them two minutes to discuss what they discovered during that process and what revisions they wish to make.
  12. Play music again so students can rehearse their movement (without conversation). Follow-up with two minutes for students to discuss further notes or revisions.
  13. Share the movement stories.

Debriefing Questions:
Ask students:

  1. What is it like to express yourself in different forms: through movement, orally or in writing?
  2. What did it feel like to have time restrictions on your creations?
  3. How did the music inform your choices?
  4. How did it feel to perform without words?
  5. Were there similarities in each of the performances? Discuss.
  6. When were the stories you saw most clear? Why?

Reference Material

Mohawk Institute:

Woodland Cultural Centre – http://woodlandculturalcentre.ca/
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation – https://nctr.ca
Mohawk Village Memorial Park: http://www.mohawkvillagepark.com/author/wp0591rob/
http://www.mohawkvillagepark.com/blog/

Residential Schools:

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/06/13/aboriginals-push-to-save-former-ontario-residential-school-known-as-mush-hole.html
https://www.revolvy.com/page/Mohawk-Institute-Residential-School
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/headlines/residential-school-survivors-grateful-for-truth-now-comes-reconciliation-1.3111125

General Resources:

https://www.canada.ca/en/crown-indigenous-relations-northern-affairs.html
https://aptnnews.ca/
https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous
https://globalnews.ca.tag.indigenous/
https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/february-2019/first-nations-water-problems-crisis-canadas-making
https://aptnnews.ca/2015/10/17/top-5-indigenous-issues-allcanadians-should-care-about/
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/un-raybould-indigenous-treatement-1.4659893
https://www.aiai.on.ca/newsroom/news-release/ontatio-chiefs-province-discuss-key-issues-affecting-first-nations-communities/
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/arts18b09curr.pdf
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/secondary/subjects.html
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/spoken-word

Acknowledgements

Production Support: Woodland Cultural Centre, Thru The Red Door, Art Gallery of Guelph, Banff Centre for the Arts & Creativity, McMaster University – Socrates Project, Prismatic Arts Festival, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre.

Production Sponsors: Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council.

Pre-Show Activity #2 – The Meaning of Home is inspired by Victor Sawyer, Liz Amadio, Joshua Campbell – Teaching Artists and participants in the 2019 Lincoln Center Education Summer Forum Leadership Lab for their pre-show music workshop.

Music Credit: Music Clip for Post-Show Activity #2 – Movement, Power and Storytelling Culminating Activity compiled by Herbie Barnes and Marjie Chud. Music Clip 1/4 :Among the Cedars by Russell Wallace used with permission. Other sound clips from Bensound.

Appendix A

Find My Way – Song Lyrics adapted for The Mush Hole by Nick Sherman

I tore this school down a thousand times in my mind
Watched it burn into the same ground
I lost my heart
I crawled this far all by myself without your help

I’ll reach farther, I’ll get back my heart
Every day is a year but I’ll start
I’m on the same ground I made it this far
I will find my way in this dark

I don’t think ice is going to turn me around
I don’t think this air is going to freeze my lungs
If I ask for help to get back on my feet
To walk on this goddamn earth where there’s nothing left of me

Stand up cold morning frozen hands fields are calling
I haven’t seen my family since I was 6 years old
Find my way back home
From the Mush Hole, folded Sunday clothes from the kid before

If I can’t run away I’ll stay sick for days, stolen candy
If I can’t see your face I’ll find another way
To survive this place
Called the Mush Hole, folded Sunday clothes, let me go