Session Descriptions

Thursday October 19

Re:imagining Service Organizations, Decolonizing Canadian Dance Update | Thursday, October 19, 1:15-2:30pm
Speakers: Kate Cornell and Soraya Peerbaye
The Canadian Dance Assembly has initiated a multi-year investigation to re-imagine service for the dance sector and an organizing structure to deliver on that service. The intention is to transform service for dance to be radically open, inclusive, and more reflective of Canada’s identity. CDA will report on the progress of this initiative and highlight survey results that aimed to capture the views of the dance sector in Canada. To read more about this initiative, please click HERE.

Prairie Dance: State of the Community | Thursday, October 19: 3:00-5:00pm
Facilitated by Karen Ball and Ann Kipling Brown
This first moderated discussion welcomes representatives from all Prairie centres to examine shared goals and common places of opportunities. What are the future goals of these groups and what support is needed to address these goals. This discussion aims to galvanize the Prairie dance sector behind a joint statement to be presented on Day 2.

Friday October 20

Keynote address - Justin Many Fingers | Friday, October 20 9:00-10:15am
Mii-Sum-In-Iskum (Long Time Buffalo Rock) is from the Kainai Blackfoot Reserve in Southern Alberta. His Canadian name is Justin Many Fingers, an international artist who studied in performing arts. He has worked with the Artists from Australia, Thailand, Nunavut, Japan, Greenland, United States of America, and Mexico. Justin is a graduate of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre, three-year acting conservatory. He also studied at the Soulpepper Actors Academy and their 2012 season. Many Fingers has trained in numerous dance styles with Jock Sotto, Neil Leremia , Frances Rings, Santee Smith, as well as Bill Coleman, Penny Couchie, Alejandro Ronceria and Troy Emery Twigg. Continue reading Justin's full bio below under Speakers.

From Inclusion to Equity: Pathways for Decolonizing Dance | Friday, October 20: 10:45-12:45pm 
Facilitated by Michele Decottignies
This interactive presentation provides a foundational overview of the diversity competencies that are needed to shift the dance sector's collective focus from inclusion to equity – an essential component of decolonization. Despite many successful examples of inclusion over the past 50 years, diverse members of the arts sector remain largely excluded from positions of needed influence and authority, our collective body of work continues to be marginal and under-resourced, and our comprehensive body of knowledge is still under-valued. The problem we now need to tackle isn't a lack of diversity in the arts. It's a lack of equity. This presentation will therefore detail the arts equity competencies that are needed to position diversity as a primary source of artistic, cultural and economic enrichment, and to motivate the dance sector further toward those relational models of diversity which give way to decolonial artistic processes, practices, and products. 

Prairie Dance: Statement of Opportunities | Friday, October 20: 1:45pm-3pm
Facilitated by Karen Ball and Ann Kipling Brown
This second moderated discussion will present a coordinated Statement of Needs to public and private funders as well as community stakeholders. How can we collectively reach the goals articulated and what mechanisms can we put in place to reach these objectives. We will work together to assess next steps and outcomes based on these statements.

What Now? | Friday, October 20,  3:30-5:00pm
Facilitated by Michele Decottignies and Soraya Peerbaye
In September 2017, the CDA hosted a transformative retreat called Decolonizing Canadian Dance. To conclude the conference, delegates will commit to actions moving forward - what now?

Saturday October 21

Student Forum on Pluralism | Saturday October 21 10:00am-12:00pm
Facilitated by Carolyne Clare of Simon Fraser University
Students will share experiences at a roundtable discussion curated by students, for students. This session will give you the chance to meet others from across the country and share ideas with one another about how equity and reconciliation relate to your dance practice or research. In addition to presenting your work to your colleagues, we will work together to write a statement of intent about how we can make dance more equitable for you and your community. If you are interested in participating in this session, please email

Speaker Bios

Justin Many Fingers

Mii-Sum-In-Iskum (Long Time Buffalo Rock) is from the Kainai Blackfoot Reserve in Southern Alberta. His Canadian name is Justin Many Fingers, an international artist who studied in performing arts. He has worked with the Artists from Australia, Thailand, Nunavut, Japan, Greenland, United States of America, and Mexico. Justin is a graduate of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre, three-year acting conservatory. He also studied at the Soulpepper Actors Academy and their 2012 season. Many Fingers has trained in numerous dance styles with Jock Soto, Neil Leremia , Frances Rings, Santee Smith, as well as Bill Coleman, Penny Couchie, Alejandro Ronceria and Troy Emery Twigg. He has also attended the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Dance Residence, Toronto Dance Theatre’s Intensive and Kahawi Dance Theatre’s training program and the One Yellow Rabbit Lab intensive. Some of the Directors he worked with are Laszlo Marton, Alanis King, Albert Schultz, Muriel Miguel, Marion de Vries, Rose Stella, and Jessica Carmichael. The Elders he has learned from and work with are Narcisse Blood, Alvine Mountainhorse, Beverly Hungry Wolf, and Raymond Many Bears. Justin has studied in both western and indigenous performing arts forms for five and a half years through out Canada. He is now in the proses of starting a National/International Indigenous Performing Arts organization in Southern Alberta. This initiative has come about in his resent love of Curating, Programing, Producing, Directing, Choreographing, Creating, and Devising.

Michele Decottignies

Michele Decottignies is a Canmore-based, multiple award-winning producer, presenter, playwright, director, designer, arts educator and advocate with 30 years experience in Canada's professional arts industries.

She spent the first 15 years of her artistic career working in a variety of roles, with many different companies, including Alberta Theatre Projects, Theatre Calgary, One Yellow Rabbit, Lunchbox Theatre, Rob Cuffley Films, White Iron and many others. She spent the last 15 years exclusively prioritizing equity & diversity in the arts through her own company, Stage Left Productions – a collective of diverse artists who create culturally-informed Political Art works and advocate for equity in the arts.

Michele has pioneered highly accessible and creative approaches to arts equity education and engagement. Her practice is unique: It pays equal attention to the barriers experienced by all equity-seeking communities and attends to inequities embedded in all three spheres of influence (personal, social and structural). She pays particular attention to needed cultural and emotional safeties, and her approach goes far beyond those divisive frameworks of "us versus them", toward cross-cultural solidarity and collective impact. Through Stage Left's globally-esteemed Theatre of the Oppressed practice, Michele has successfully facilitated over 300 arts equity workshops, across Canada, as well as in the USA and Australia.

Her current arts equity work includes attending to the continued evolution of The Deaf, Disability & Mad Arts Alliance of Canada and facilitating the services offered by The Calgary Congress for Equity & Diversity in the Arts. Her recent arts equity consulting includes supporting the development of PACT's national arts equity initiative, ALL IN, and facilitating foundational arts equity workshops for their regional cohorts; introducing and Orchestras Canada's members to a Canadian-specific Arts Equity Framework; and mentoring independent artists, Olivia Marie Golosky and Melaina Sheldon, in the use of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques in their Truth & Reconciliation initiatives and processes of collective recovery from and resistance to continuing forms of colonialism.

Soraya Peerbaye

Soraya Peerbaye has more than 20 years of experience in the arts in the field of policy development, program management and advocacy; she works in dance in a collaborative capacity as a producer, dramaturge, writer and curator. She was the Dance Officer at the Toronto Arts Council, and prior to that the Equity Officer at the Canada Council for the Arts, advocating for artists of colour and diasporic artistic and cultural practices. She currently works with Brandy Leary, Artistic Director of Anandam DanceTheatre, as the company's Curatorial and Program Co-Director. Peerbaye has also acted as a consultant for a range of cultural entities, including the Department of Canadian Heritage, Orchestras Canada, the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists and Cultural Pluralism in the Performing Arts Movement Ontario. She is a poet and the author of Poems for the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (Goose Lane Editions, 2009), nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award, and Tell: Poems for a Girlhood (Pedlar Press, 2015), shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and winner of the Trillium Poetry Award.

Ann Kipling Brown

Ann Kipling Brown, Ph.D. is Professor Emerita of the University of Regina, having worked for many years in the Arts Education program in the Faculty of Education. She continues to teach, research and publish on dance pedagogy, the integration of notation in dance programs, the application of technology in dance education, and the role of dance in the child’ and adult’s lived world. In her professional and community service Ann has served for several years on the Advisory Committee and the Reference Committee for Arts Education for Saskatchewan Education. She has been actively involved in the Saskatchewan cultural community as well as serving on several international committees as well as attending conferences concerned with arts/dance education, including Dance and the Child International (daCi), World Dance Alliance (WDA) and The World Alliance for Arts Education (WAAE). Ann is committed to the research and networking in arts education with a focus on dance education in the public and private sectors having attended local, provincial, national and international conferences and symposia.

Karen Ball

Karen Ball is a nationally recognized community leader with over 20 years developing the charitable and cultural landscape in Canada.  She has been a thought leader and collaborator in key planning within Alberta including  the City of Calgary's Cultural Plan and working with the Premier’s Council for Culture to advance Alberta’s cultural prosperity - where she serves as the senior lead consultant.  Working across Canada, Karen has built innovative communities and systems to support healthy non-profit operations, capital development, and place-making and continues to provide expertise to organizations wishing to build deep and meaningful connections with their communities of stakeholders and supporters.   

In her role as Executive Director for Calgary2012, the non-profit organization charged with delivering Calgary’s year as Cultural Capital of Canada, Karen built a range of grass roots programs that directly engaged over 5,000 Calgarians from every corner of the city in sharing and celebrating Calgary’s culture.  This included direct investment in over 2,000 individuals, cultural organizations and heritage organizations to create projects that celebrate and grow Calgary culture – many of which continue as legacies of this important year.  Karen continues to work closely with the Cultural Capital partners the City of Calgary, Calgary Arts Development, Tourism Calgary, Calgary Stampede and the Calgary Public Library as a consultant and community member invested in building Calgary’s culture.

Karen is a certified fundraising executive that has served as the Director of Community Investment at Calgary Arts Development, Director of Advancement at the Alberta College of Art + Design and Major Gifts Officer for the Banff Centre.  As Executive Director of ArtsHabitat in Edmonton, Karen developed the first and only designated artist live/work housing in the Province. She has also served as the Producer of The Works Art & Design festival in Edmonton and as a curator for the Ontario Craft Council. 

Beverly Hungry Wolf

Author, educator, activist, Beverly Hungry Wolf has been an inspiration to the Blackfoot people for a long time. Beverly was raised on the Blood Reserve by parents and grandparents who fostered her interest in her Blackfoot culture.

Sik-ski-aki has become an internationally known spiritual leader and educator because of her passion for her culture and language. She has been intimately involved in the cultural and ceremonial practices of the Blood People for the past 40 years and has written extensively on her people's traditions and way of life. She has used her traditional and modern education to teach in many areas including home schooling her own four children and at various universities and schools in Canada, the USA and abroad.

Canadian Dance Assembly
55 Mill Street, Suite 312
Case Goods Building #74
Toronto, ON M5A 3C4
Tel: 1.416.515.8444
Fax: 1.416.515.9444