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The Make Believer Project

June 26, 2018

Carrie Gour for Stardale Women's Group

Four weeks and nine public performances later, the springtime tour of Stardale's The Make Believer Project has come to a close. A spoken word piece by urban, Aboriginal girls, telling the truth as they know it, their final show including the experimental video they created in conjunction with Contemporary Calgary, played to a standing-room-only crowd on June 21 in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Elders and visitors from communities as far away as Saskatchewan travelled to Calgary to witness the final presentation. For the girls, the dual feelings of loss and celebration were palpable at this being their last show. After a month of performing up to three times per week, the strength and growth in them as individuals was equally palpable.

Their truth is one that's typically uninvited, bulldozed or ignored entirely in the world we live. With the help of playwright Eugene Stickland and director Helen Young, however, the girls not only found their voices, but the power within them.

Shaped from words and writing of their own, the content of The Make Believer Project is heavy, yet after so many performances, the girls themselves are not. Or at least, they're not anymore. This is the power of speaking your truth out loud, over and over again - and having that truth be respected and heard by audiences who wanted to receive it. For these girls, some as young as 10 years old, the experience has changed each and every one of them. What's real is that their lives are often hard and awkward, but through The Make Believer Project, they've learned the have the power to create a different reality for themselves. And perhaps more importantly, they now believe they can.

One audience member said this: "That touched my soul; I could feel the truth and pain of what they were saying. That level of honesty is so brave." Another, a high school teacher, said: "The presentation is so powerful and it brings the voice of the girls to the conversation about moving forward with truth and reconciliation in our communities." A young person in attendance gave perhaps the most touching review: "Hearing them makes me feel less alone and like, crazy, because I've felt those things too."

It's said that the truth will set you free, but the saying is incomplete: The truth will indeed set you free, but in speaking it, you set others free too.

Previous entries written by Carrie Cour as well as additional photos can be found on the Youth page.

For more information contact Executive Director Helen McPhaden at or 403-243-6615

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Last updated June 9, 2019

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Designed by Copian in collaboration with Stardale Women's Group Inc. Foundation