KW theatre raising money for Indigenous causes

0
Graphic by Candice Cheng

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ’MT Space’ faced performance cancellations, and many of their usual operations came to a halt. Nevertheless, the team at MT Space wanted to find a way to use their platform to give back to their community.

The company, having a shared priority in supporting the local Indigenous community, decided to use their platform to create and promote a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for ‘The Healing of the Seven Generations.’

‘The Healing of the Seven Generations’ is a Kitchener based organization that offers programs and support for First Peoples- who are suffering the intergenerational impacts of residential schools. Throughout the pandemic, ‘The Healing of the Seven Generations’ has been providing care packages, meal delivery, personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, check-in services, etc., to First Peoples community members in need.

“Even if we don’t have it, we will raise the money to support local Indigenous communities because that’s how we show our commitment,” Pam Patel, MT Space artistic director, said.

They kickstarted their campaign on ‘GivingTuesdayNow’ on May 5 this year, to encourage people to donate in support of front-line workers. Although the campaign was set to close at the end of May, the ‘GoFundMe’ account, through which donations were being collected, remained open. Donations continued to trickle in through June, and on July 1, there was a spike in donations. Canada Day, intended to commemorate the Constitution Act that united Canada, is also a reminder of the genocide of Indigenous people that the country was founded on, as well as of the ongoing discrimination that Indigenous people face.

 This influx of donations on Canada Day shows that the suffering of Indigenous people is on the minds of many local community members, and that is why they sought to offer financial support to Indigenous people.

Pam said that by the end of May, the company was not broadcasting their campaign across their social media platforms anymore. So people sought out the campaign to help Indigenous people independently of MT Space’s online communications surrounding it.

The campaign was officially closed on July 2 after surpassing the company’s goal of $8,000, with a total of just over $10,000 raised for The Healing of the Seven Generations. 

Pam said that a challenge she faced when meeting MT Space’s campaign goal was that many people were already contributing to other initiatives, and hence people’s priorities may have been elsewhere. Their crowdfunding campaign came at a time when many racial injustices were coming to light, and campaigns and protests in opposition to systemic racism were occurring all over the country.

“It’s amazing to see how these protests have opened up a platform to address systemic racism and access to dismantle and hold accountable certain institutions in the community,” Pam said.

However, Pam regretted that she has not seen the same weight placed on dismantling and holding accountable the institutions in the arts community, the way it should. She emphasized the need for advocates and allies to hold our municipalities and venues accountable for promoting, opening up, and giving space for BIPOC artists.

When asked about what ‘MT Space’ has in store for the future in the way of theatre productions, Pam said there is nothing set in stone for now. However, they are always looking for partnerships in the community for anyone whose priority is to serve the community and create jobs and contracts for BIPOC artists.

Although MT Space’s crowdfunding campaign has closed, if you wish to donate to The Healing of the Seven Generations, you can find more information on how you can support their initiatives here. 

‘MT Space’ is a Waterloo-based theatre company that was founded in 2004, with the goal of creating a space for marginalized voices to be heard and producing artistic work that reflects Canada’s cultural diversity. MT Space prioritizes serving the community and creating jobs and contracts for BIPOC artists.