GPLT column: Performance bringing awareness to MMIWG

Natasha Hamelin (left) playing Denise and Mandy Cardinal playing Michelle in “The Hours that Remain,”which opens at Grande Prairie Live Theatre (GPLT) on Oct. 24 and plays through to Nov. 9.

Photo courtesy of GPLT

At the beginning of June, the Government of Canada released the final report for the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). The inquiry stated that Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than members of any other demographic group in Canada, and 16 times more likely to be slain or to disappear than a Caucasian woman. The report concluded that a genocide driven by the disproportionate level of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls occurred in Canada through “state actions and inactions rooted in colonialism and colonial ideologies.”

“The Hours that Remain” opening at Grande Prairie Live Theatre (GPLT) on Oct. 24 and playing through to Nov. 9 confronts this pervasive reality of missing Indigenous women in Canada. Bringing attention to the legacy of loss endured by families, friends, community and our society as a whole; the play is inspired by the true stories of missing and murdered Canadian Aboriginal women – particularly from the “Highway of Tears.” The “Highway of Tears” refers to the 800 kilometre section of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, B.C. The highway received its name due to the high number of unsolved murders and disappearances of young women along the highway since 1969. Many of these women are Indigenous.

“The Hours that Remain” can be described as a moving, emotionally charged story of loss, bereavement and unfaltering hope. The play involves three main characters Michelle played by Mandy Cardinal, Denise played by Natasha Hamelin and Daniel played by Clay Wyght. Michelle and Denise are sisters, Denise and Daniel are a married couple who live together. One evening as Michelle drives home, her car breaks down along the highway and she catches a ride with a transport truck driver. That is the night she goes missing. For years after, Michelle’s disappearance Denise desperately seeks answers to her sister’s whereabouts. She starts to experience dreams and visions of Michelle which skew her reality.

According to Keith Barker, the playwright, “’The Hours That Remain’ was written to honor such incomprehensible loss and suffering. I believe it is a conversation every Canadian needs to be a part of. In its essence it is a story about love: about the sacrifices we would make and the trials we would endure to find someone we love who disappeared from our lives.”

GPLT invites the community out for this thought provoking performance directed by Desiree Klause, assistant directed by Natasha Hunt and stage managed by Tina Kennedy. There will be an instillation curated in the lobby by producer Delaine Lambert-English. Opening and closing ceremonies will occur before the show on Oct. 24 and Nov. 9. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 780-538-1616 or online at Five per cent of final ticket sales will be donated to the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre for the recent MMIWG memorial near Grande Prairie Regional College, which I encourage everyone to check out.

—Desiree Klause, GPLT

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