The following is a letter written to the director of PIG GIRL, Micheline Chevrier, posted with the permission of Heather White.
A self-proclaimed ‘hybrid’, Heather was born to a Mohawk mother and Stoney father. At 12 she joined Kahnawake’s Turtle Island Theatre Company where she first honed skills as an actor and singer – favourite roles include Mama Rose – Gypsy, Mame – Mame, Winnifred – Once Upon A Mattress, and Chris Gorman – Rumors. After graduating from Concordia University with a specialization in Theatre Performance, Heather continued her acting training at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre where she worked on Muriel Miguel’s A Series of Savage Events, Alanis King’s Gegwah, and with playwright Tara Beagan developing her semi-autobiographical play.
Heather hopes that her Mohawk Girls character, Caitlin, inspires young women to not only love themselves and understand their true worth, but also adopt a positive body image and help redefine society’s expectations of beauty.
As of late the importance of storytelling has been at the forefront of my brain, along with all of the injustices towards First Nations people that still exist in Canada in 2016. I am often baffled at how hatred and intolerance seem to eclipse the positive steps towards reconciliation, but I hold on to the hope and belief that in my lifetime things change as much as they have in my father’s eight-ish decades on this planet.
When I think of the daunting task of moving forward, the only way I know how to help others understand is through storytelling. Considering the news headlines of the past week, I just wanted to tell you something:
Even though I felt Pig Girl was coming at a great time, the necessity of this story has been heightened in the past few days, and for that I can’t thank you enough.
In a time where it’s difficult to find a place to fit in as a First Nations woman of color, having a central, multi dimensional character in ANY performance played by a native woman doesn’t come around as often as it should. Add to that a story of such cultural significance and it likens to searching for a needle in a haystack. Not only is the text powerful and incredibly necessary, but adding the MMIW component is downright gutsy. I’m so grateful to be living in an era where something like Pig Girl shines a spotlight on a topic that’s been ignored (starring an indigenous woman to boot) and where a show like Mohawk Girls has garnered so much recognition on a national scale. Words cannot express how happy I am that these stories are being heard. This is what I dreamed of as a theatre student a decade ago. Better late than never, right?
Thank you for being brave and using your voice as an artist, and ally, to spark a much needed discussion for this country with Pig Girl. It is something I feel like I’ve been shouting for the better part of my life, but knowing as a First Nations woman that my voice is not alone is a huge relief. Hopefully the play will spark a great discussion and move towards a culture of understanding, compassion, and healing. I will definitely be in the audience listening, and learning, from a group of artists who are brazen enough to tackle a topic that has been silent for too long. Thank you for giving our community an opportunity to speak and be heard.
Please send my well wishes and thanks to everyone at Imago and Pig Girl. Have a fantastic run! Instead of the whole break a leg thing, I’ll send our own take on it: Wound A Knee!
In Peace & Friendship,
Heather can be contacted on social media at:
Facebook: Heather White