Linda Kee Finds Her Identity Within the Rivers of Treaty 7 Territory

"We’re always fighting with the now – acceptance of the now. I hope the piece will bring peace and acceptance and people will say, ‘I’m okay where I'm at, I accept where I’m at.’” – Linda Kee

 

Linda Kee is a stage and screen actor, theatre facilitator, writer, producer, synergy movement yoga instructor, and a second-generation Filipino-Canadian. Linda utilizes theatre as a vehicle for positive social change to create healthy relationships and communities. A lifelong learner, Linda graduated from Mount Royal University in 1996 with a Theatre Arts Diploma; the Alberta University of the Arts in 2000 with a degree in Design and Visual Communications; and the Canadian College of Performing Arts in 2001 with a Performing Arts Certificate. Linda began her journey as a performer with All Nations Theatre Society (Antyx Community Arts Society) in Mohkínstsis (Calgary). While working for ANTS, Linda was blessed to train with David Diamond of Headlines Theatre (Theatre for Living) in Coast Salish territories (Vancouver). Based on Brazilian director Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, the training was rooted in activist theatre – which aims to shine a light on racism, violence, the legacy of residential schools, language reclamation, and other social issues. As an artist contributing to the Istotsi Workshop Series, Linda wrote a piece on the confluence of the Makhabn (Bow) and Otos-kwunee (Elbow) Rivers. The site where the two rivers meet has been a significant space for the Blackfoot, Tsuut’ina, and Métis Peoples since time immemorial.


Influenced by the rivers as they reconcile, Linda’s Istotsi story is about the feeling of existing between two different worlds. As a second-generation settler, she sometimes feels like she is neither Filipino nor Canadian – but just as the confluence brings the Makhabn and Otos-kwunee together, so too does it bring together Linda’s feelings of mixed identity. “Just like the rivers come together – they separate and come back because they’re from the same source,” she says. “It’s okay for me to feel that different parts of me are being pulled apart or they might not fit together all the time – that’s okay, it’s part of the journey. (My identity is) shifting, but like the confluence, it all comes back to the same source and energy – that whatever makes me is me.”


Linda Kee during the filming of Istotsi near the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers in Mohkinstsis.

The Istotsi workshops have been an emotional, rewarding experience for Linda. Set on a path of healing, she shared and connected with Making Treaty 7 artists every day during the Creation Residency. “I cried every day – I knew that something was going to rip me open,” she says. “You go into a lake, you throw up all the stuff from the bottom, and it gets cloudy – but then it starts to settle and the clarity in the water comes back ... that’s how I felt. All of this stuff was brought up to the surface in a very positive way. Being invited and listening was such an honour. I couldn’t believe it – every day I would sit in a theatre and think, ‘wow, I get to show up today and call this work.’” While researching the confluence of the Makhabn and Otos-kwunee rivers, Linda learned about Indigenous wintering from an Elder with Making Treaty 7. The act of preparing an area for sustainable living through our harsh winters has been part of Indigenous teachings for millennia. “The idea of wintering is that when Indigenous Peoples would arrive, they would say, ‘okay, what do we need, how are we going to take care of the children, and how are we going to feed ourselves?’” Linda says. “It’s a place of gathering – not just human to human, but the animals, nature, and water comes together. As I kept visiting, I would observe people and birds ... in different seasons, the trees grow and die (there). It’s a place where everything is happening, and everything is gathering. I think for one to pass through there, you forget that unless you stay and observe.”


Linda hopes that people who see her Istotsi workshop come away from the experience feeling a sense of peacefulness and acceptance of self.

 

Istotsi - The Land We Live On was made possible in part by the RBC Foundation


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