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Prairieaction Foundation Award

Prairieaction Certificate

Stardale Women's Group is honoured to receive for the second time the Prairieaction Foundation Youth Leadership Award for The Road: Sharing Stories of Missing and Murdered Women. Due to COVID-19, we were not able to come together formally but our hearts are connected as one.

The 25 girls of the Stardale program in Calgary with its team of female elders, facilitators and workers guided and supported the processes to heal and break the cycles of abuse and violence directed at them and within their community. These adults assisted the girls in being able to create a narrative that is both a cultural mirror and a "two-world view" for the non-Indigenous Calgary and area community.

Through the creation of The Road, a strategized project that relates to the many females who have gone missing on the Yellowhead Highway, or what is known as the "Trail of Tears," the girls were empowered to become leaders in their community and the larger Calgary and area community. Audiences will learn the impact the numerous murdered and missing women has had on the lives of these young Indigenous women through their storytelling. Storytelling is the traditional way of imparting knowledge and wisdom in our Indigenous community.

Ribbon Skirt Cultural Project

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts under the granting of "Creating, Knowing and Sharing for Indigenous Peoples" for supporting Stardale Women's Group Inc. in the Ribbon Skirt Cultural Project.

It was a mighty effort to complete this project while COVID-19 had limited our contact.

When we began this project with the Elders, the helpers and the young girls coming together, it was magnificent to be part of the synergy which was flowing. Listening to the stories and the guidance from our Elders was beneficial for all whom partook in the sewing circles.

The Ribbon Skirt Project was a component of the performance creation stage production of "The Road," which was to launch at the Stardale Gala on May 14. The Gala was cancelled due to COVID-19. Alas, all is not lost, as we will be having all the girls together on the stage in the near future when it's safe to do so.

We humbly thank all the women who assisted in the teaching of the girls how to sew. Several girls made comments as to how relaxing sewing was. It was new beginnings as they learned more on their culture and women's roles in their community.

Ribbon Skirt Project

Progress Update

Blog entry #19 in the development of the Road series for Stardale

Written by Eugene Stickland - June 29, 2020

Sometimes when bad things happen, we see only the immediate consequences. We realize we are going to have to change our plans and adapt to the new reality. We talk about making the best of a bad situation. We start again. What else can any of us do?

This is the situation people all over the world have found themselves since mid March. All sorts of plans have had to change all over the place! The first one I noticed that made me realize that things were going to be quite different was when the NBA first postponed and then cancelled its season. And then all the other professional leagues followed suit. Four months later and they are still trying to figure it all out.

Closer to home at Stardale, we had to face the same conditions, the same reality, and come up with a plan of our own. Our timeline was that until the end of February, I was working with the girls, encouraging them to write about their own experiences with the end result envisioned as a performance piece that the girls would have presented at a gala evening (and fundraiser) in mid May.

I had just started to edit their words and was busy creating a coherent script for them to perform. We had retained the services of Helen Young (known around Stardale as "Little Helen") to direct the girls. Helen had directed The Make Believer Project two years ago and the girls like her (we all do!) and respond well to her direction.

And then came early March. Suddenly, things started closing. The city, the country, the entire world started to shut down. Do you remember? Schools closed. Restaurants closed. Theatres, cinemas, hockey arenas and on and on. Initially we were told this would last for two weeks. Two weeks! And here we are in July and things still haven't opened back up entirely.

And so, at Stardale we did what we had to do and adapted. Fortunately, we had had with us throughout the winter Vanessa Wentzel, a young (and award-winning) videographer. Some nights, Vanessa was just there to watch our process unfold, to get a sense of how I work, and then how (Little) Helen works with the script and the girls. The initial plan for Vanessa was for her to create some kind of video complementary to the stage play we were creating.

It's rather strange now, looking back, that Helen McPhaden ("Big Helen") and I were never able to tell Vanessa what we wanted her to do, exactly. This turned out to be a blessing. Had we been able to tell her exactly what to do, she might have been off doing that. As it turned out, it was much more important in the long run that she was able to spend time with the girls, and get to know them and generally get a feel for the essence of The Road project.

Last weekend, Vanessa and both Helens along with a team of artists began shooting the video version of The Road. Obviously front and centre are the girls, who are now acting on camera the words they wrote back in the winter. I have included a few stills from that shoot. When I see these amazing photos, you can imagine I get excited about what's yet to come. And I dream ahead to the day when we can all gather for the premiere presentation of this piece.

I mentioned above that these times call for us to make the best of a bad situation. I believe at Stardale we have done exactly that. In fact, given the immensely talented team that has built up around this production, I believe we will if anything come out ahead.

Funny how it works out that way.

Blog #19

Blog #19

Previous entries can be found in the Eugene's Blog section of the site.

Stardale Pop Up Art in the Park Series for Canada 150

Canada 150

Stardale Women's Group Wins Prairie Action Award for Youth Leadership Innovation Solutions in the Prevention of Violence and Abuse with the Honourable Lieutenant Governor of Alberta - Lois Mitchell

Prairie Action Award

photo of girl with mask on Our Videos

The Make Believer Project
The Make Believer Project

Pop Up Art
Stardale Pop Up Art in the Park Series for Canada 150

Charity Gala
STARDALE GALA 2017 at Spolumbo's Calgary

Cook Off
Calgary Co-op and Stardale Girls Cooking Program Pilot

Power of the Arts
The Power of Arts with Michaelle Jean

movie camera Life As You Don't Know It - a comic book by young Aboriginal girls.

Research report by Stardale

Alesha's Dream

Stardale is looking to recruit innovative women in Calgary who are ready to work within the framework of our after-school projects for young Aboriginal girls ages 10-17.

Last updated July 1, 2020

Life As You Don't Know It comic book
Designed by Copian in collaboration with Stardale Women's Group Inc. Foundation