LAKELAND – A Métis tale of love that breaks the barrier of time played in two venues in the Lakeland last week. The play ‘You used to call me Marie…’ by Tai Amy Grauman, was staged in St. Paul Aug. 3 with support of Reconciliation St. Paul and then in Bonnyville on Aug. 4.
The story followed the souls of Iskwewo and Napew finding each other at eight different periods of history, including the rise of the Métis nations ending in the present era. It is produced by Savage Society.
According to Grauman, many Métis women were shadowed by the narratives of Métis men in history, inspiring her to write stories of “the woman.” She said that while many Métis men etched their names in archives, there were little to no information about their wives.
“I’m from a long line of Maries, right?” she told Lakeland This Week on Aug. 4, following the play at the Métis - Francophone Cultural Centre on Aug. 3.
She explained the name Marie is a very common name in the Métis community and also her ancestry. “I was going through my life wondering who all these Maries were, and I kept getting cast as Maries,” she said.
“So, that made me look back and go, ‘Who is this person trying to get through me?’, and I found her and now it has been the gateway to so many different stories and things,” said Grauman.
Grauman also said that a theatre version of the show is currently being considered. She added, “but doing what we’re doing now is way more fun than being in a theater,” explaining going on tours in various communities feels way more special for her.
She also said that being able to share her story felt like a dream come true and thanked Reconciliation St. Paul for their support.
Reconciliation St. Paul hosted the Aug. 3 performance sponsored by members of the community, including the Town of St. Paul, the County of St. Paul, CENTURY 21 Poirier Real Estate, Lamoureux Culham LLP, and Bishop Paul Terrio of the Diocese of St. Paul. The French Cultural Centre also provided the venue.
Tanya Fontaine Porozni, with the Reconciliation St. Paul, said it is important to build relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. She said, “and a lot of times, when we talk about reconciliation, it's heavy, emotional, and hard work.”
Porozni told Lakeland This Week the play was an opportunity to learn in an uplifting and fun way. St. Paul was originally founded as St-Paul-des-Métis.
According to Porozni, the play was a way to give acknowledgement to the Métis and “to bring to light that side of history.” She said the relationshop between the French community and the Indigenous community in St. Paul has been strained in the past.
“Sometimes we get into our own bubbles, and we don't kind of venture out,” she said. “So, this was a nice opportunity for some people who've never been to the French Cultural Center, just to come in and actually just be in a space.”