Welcome to CFCR Community Connect - where we help to connect you with local community organizations in Saskatoon. 

The March feature for 2024 is Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre. With the vision of creating a world where people are transformed through Indigenous performance, Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre strives to produce and present innovative cultural theatre experiences that engage and empower First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth, artists, and the greater Saskatchewan community. 

What types of programs or activities do you offer? What’s your most successful program?

The most successful program would be our signature and heart of the company’s Circle of Voices Program. COV was first introduced in 1999, this program has been apart of GTNT for over 20 years. Our second program that was successful was the Playhouse Program that was introduced in 2014, the program was offered through inner city schools once a week over the course of 6 months with grades 4-8. Another more recent program introduced is our New Voices Residency program which is GTNT’s initiative to cultivate the next generation of storytellers. Currently in it's fourth enrollment cycle, the program focused on new Indigenous writers. New Voices is a paid, six-month residency guided by Dan MacDonald. The goal of the program is to give the participants the tools and experience to write stories for the stage. At the end of the program, the participants work will be presented to the public in a staged reading to gather feedback from presenters, and audience members and facilitate further development of the stories. Which currently on our stage is “Tayen and the Mimi Kwesak” by Mona Kormish, and we will be premiering more New Voices Participants works in our future seasons.

Are there specific demographics of communities you primarily serve?

We have a bit of variety to the demographics we serve, but primarily the Indigenous communities.

How have you seen your organization’s work make a difference? Can you share any success stories or provide examples of positive outcomes directly impacted by your organization?

I answer that with a 100% yes! I’m not just talking about myself as an example having gone through the first COV program. But over the years, we’ve had cov alumni continue their path into the arts either as Stage Managers, actors, singers, playwrights, and directors that continue to inspire and has made impacts in the community. GTNT is still one of the only indigenous theatre companies that has operated since 99.

Do you collaborate with other non-profits, agencies, or businesses to provide programs or resources? How do these collaborations enhance the effectiveness of your programs?

It’s important to collaborate with other organizations when we can, building those relationships because they can go a long way. As a not-for profit organization we won’t always have the resources to enhance our own programs or productions. These relationships are meant to uplift and enhance everything we do.

What are any challenges or obstacles your organization has faced? How were they overcome?

Besides still recovering post pandemic, we still face the challenge of having our own performing space. Although since moving to a new location that is still very much in the community we serve and can do more in our building, we like most need stability and sustainability. I wouldn’t say we have completely overcome our challenges, but we are also very lucky to have our community and friends to lend a hand.

Do you have a long-term vision or dream for your organization?

There are a few long-term dreams for GTNT, one is having a place to do everything in one location and not relaying on fitting into other venues with limited time and funds. To operate a bigger facility. To take COV North onto the road and bringing our programs to the communities. Another side dream, to own our own 15 passenger seat van and touring trailer, trust me, we could use those!

How can the community help your organization reach its goals?

One of the ways that would help our organization is for anyone in the community coming out to our shows, making donations, and just finding ways they can support us to be able to reach that Bannock in the sky.

What volunteer opportunities are there within your organization? How can individuals or groups get involved and support your organization through volunteering?

Anyone can reach out to us and join our volunteer roster, having folks helps us during show runs as ushers, handing out programs makes a world of difference to us as we are a small staff that is usually going above and beyond taking on additional responsibilities and workloads.

What about fundraising or donating opportunities?

Folks can head to GTNT.ca to check out our info and ways to donate to programs and outreach opportunities. What is something that you wish more people knew about your organization? GTNT does a lot more than just producing Indigenous theatre. We also run a selection of youth artistic development programs with the Circle of Voices program for high school students, and the Playhouse program for elementary students. Along with an indigenous playwriting residency program, New Voices, that helps indigenous playwrights develop the skills they need to transfer their stories to others through pen and paper.

To learn more about Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre, and the programs they offer, click below!