A Land Reclamation Odyssey
By Quelemia Sparrow
A black hole, hungry ghosts, a Grandmother wolf—Quelemia Sparrow’s Skyborn is an epic odyssey grounded in Indigenous ancestral knowledge. Guided through the universe on a river made of stars, Sparrow makes a journey by canoe to recover her lost soul from the land of the dead. This adventure is deeply rooted in the cosmology and teachings of her Musqueam heritage. It invites the audience to bear witness to a reclamation of culture, land and self.
Skyborn is imaginatively constructed and fiercely poignant. It introduces never-before-seen Musqueam/Sto:lo visual storytelling and animation, as well as inter-Indigenous sound and puppetry, but at its heart is the simple, irreducible force of human presence: Sparrow is a natural performer, endowed with grace and magnetism. This work is her gesture of liberation.
“When a person had a spirit sickness, it was said that their soul had left their body. In Skyborn, we use theatre to embody a ritual that is a personal and familial odyssey of reclamation of self, and land, and blood memory.”
— Quelemia Sparrow
PLAYWRIGHT & PERFORMER
Kim Senklip Harvey
INDIGENOUS FRAMEWORK CONSULTANT/DRAMATURG
Chrystal Sparrow, Carrielynn Victor
Kelsey Kanatan Wavey
APPRENTICE STAGE MANAGER
Renae Morriseau, Chelsea Rose Tucker, Kaitlyn Yott
June Fukumura, Tetsuro Shigematsu
I work in First Nations healthcare, and it gave me a new medium through which to explain the healing journey and where to direct allies for information.
- Audience Member
Thank you for the privilege of being an honorary witness. Skyborn is the best thing I’ve seen in a long while - poignant, provocative, transformative.
- Janice Abbott (via Twitter)
I was extremely moved by Skyborn. I served as an honorary witness yesterday and it is my responsibility to tell you this: It is a crucial piece of theatre that I believe every Canadian should see.
- Marsha Lederman (via Twitter)
Further funding from
SKYBORN (formerly O’wet) was originally commissioned by Full Circle: First Nations Performance as part of a larger work, and benefited from the work of the Full Circle Aboriginal Ensemble, including director Margo Kane, dramaturg Michael Springate, and associate dramaturg and researcher Kwasuun Sarah Vedan.
It was first performed as a workshop production at the Firehall Arts Centre, produced by Alley Theatre in June 2016.
In the summer of 2018, the focus was on land-based dramaturgy with director Kim Harvey and dramaturge Lindsay Lachance.
A design integration phase took place at The Cultch in the summer of 2019.
Skyborn: A Land Reclamation Odyssey had its World Premiere at the Cultch as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, in January, 2020.