In collaboration with Bourgie Hall and the Festival international de la littérature (FIL), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is extending an invitation to an exceptional experience with Innu soprano Elisabeth St-Gelais on Saturday, September 30, to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Admission to the Museum’s collections and exhibitions will be free for the occasion.

At the FIL and Bourgie Hall’s request, Innu poet Maya Cousineau Mollen, whose collection Enfants du lichen won the 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award, scoured the MMFA’s vast collections for inspiration to create a literary text. Echoing Woman Sitting on a Bed (1993) by George Segal, Rien ne tuera ma lumière, a powerful poem interlacing French and Innu, thus emerged.

On September 30, at three different times, the voice of Elisabeth St-Gelais, Radio-Canada’s 2023–2024 classical Révélation and winner of the 2023 Prix d’Europe, will be heard resonating throughout the Museum’s Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace. The soprano will interpret Maya Cousineau Mollen’s poetic creation, set to music by Anishinaabe composer Barbara Assiginaak, a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Musikhochschule in München, Germany whose awards and honours include the Glenn Gould Award in Composition (University of Toronto). As the direct descendant of hereditary chiefs who were signatories of treaties in Ontario, and as the child and grandchild of residential school survivors, she has centred much of her work on these histories.

As a place of cultural discovery and sharing, the MMFA wishes to honour residential school victims and survivors, and commemorate this dark chapter in our history. This National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, visitors can (re)discover the MMFA’s collection of Inuit art or see the exhibition Portable Universe: Thought and Splendour of Indigenous Colombia, the culmination of a close collaboration with the Arhuaco community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region.

“The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is a gathering place where memories and creations from all cultures intercommunicate. On September 30, we will honour the resilience of Indigenous children who were ripped from their families and communities. In a spirit of openness toward others and bringing people together, we invite you to join us in celebrating the richness of Indigenous art and music practices,” said Stéphane Aquin, Director of the MMFA.

“We firmly believe in listening to First Nations voices, so their history and vibrant cultures can be heard. Put into motion by Bourgie Hall, this creation reflects a desire to present a plurality of artistic traditions while bringing music to life within the MMFA’s museum complex. We are honoured to take part in these moments of reflection and reconciliation with Indigenous communities, and are delighted to showcase the brilliance of their art,” said Caroline Louis, Executive Director and Olivier Godin, Artistic Director of Bourgie Hall.

“I am elated that Maya Cousineau Mollen accepted our invitation. An Innu woman of deep conviction, she walks in the footsteps of her elders, in the hopes of imbuing humanity with a spark of poetry. By participating in this exciting adventure in which literature coalesces with visual art and music, along with Elisabeth St-Gelais and Barbara Assiginaak, she is carrying on the legacy of Joséphine Bacon, who has steadfastly fought against the loss and disappearance of a language, a culture and its traditions. Literature, music and visual arts, in this instance created by three exceptional artists, can help us understand the true meaning of reconciliation, which is in fact an invitation to build a new future for everyone,” added Michelle Corbeil, Executive and Artistic Director of FIL.

Saturday, September 30 from 10am to 5pm
Free. No reservation required.
Performances: 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:30pm

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
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