Mother Tongue


The Music Gallery and Native Women in the Arts Present
Mother Tongue
Part of the Kwe Performance Series
featuring Joanne Shenandoah + Salia Joseph & Kwiigay Iiwaans+ Nelson Tagoona

A musical showcase empowering Indigenous languages

Language connects us to our identity, to our past, to our future, and to each other. There is a movement within Indigenous communities across Turtle Island to learn, preserve, and practice traditional language for generations to come. Mother Tongue, the first event of its kind, features a range of works from Grammy award-winning established musicians, to emerging artists, all of whom are working to revitalize their mother tongue.

The evening will feature performances by Grammy-award winning Haudenosaunee artist Joanne Shenandoah, Salia Joseph & Kwiigay  from Squamish territory and emerging Inuit experimental electronic music artist Nelson Tagoona from Baker Lake, Nunavut.

This showcase pays tribute to the ancestors and community members who have preserved the many languages of this land in the face of great adversity.

Grammy-winning Joanne Shenandoah, is one of America’s most celebrated and critically acclaimed Native American musicians.  Her immense catalogue of music includes country, pop, folk, blues, and traditional Iroquois women’s songs. With her music and her work as a humanitarian, an advocate for peace and earthjustice, she has captured the hearts of audiences all over the world.

From Baker Lake, Nunavut, Nelson Tagoona is a one-of-a-kind musician. He was part of our X Avant festival in 2013 with his signature mix of inspirational messages, unique vocal percussion, and traditional inuit throat singing called “throat boxing”.

Salia Joseph, from Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Snuneymuxw First Nations, is focused on the work and resistance of Indigenous women through art, Indigenous feminisms, and new media. Salia sings contemporary western music in two bands as well as Coast Salish traditional singing in a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh dance/singing group. Raven clan, from Haida Gwaii, Kwiigay Iiwans explores their intersecting two-spirit, queer, trans non-binary, human Haida, and Skwxwú7mesh identities, with the existential and the extra terrestrial. Their artistic expression is driven by their passion for Indigenous sovereignty.

About the Kwe Performance Series:

The Kwe Performance Series is the evolution of NWIA’s long-standing Catalyst Series presenting performance-based work from innovative Indigenous artists from diverse nations and communities. NWIA has presented several memorable shows in partnership with the Music Gallery over the years featuring artists such as 2017 Polaris winner Lido Pimienta, Leanne Simpson, Taqralik Partridge, and Skookum Sound System.

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