The Artists of Songide’ewin

With Songide’ewin opening in less than a week (!) we thought you should get to know the cast and crew a little better. Songide’ewin tells the stories of over 70 Indigenous youth and their views on reconciliation. Originally set to premiere in May 2020, the show is being performed in late August with all social distancing and health protocols in place. Three performances will take place under an open-air tent at Whittier Park for limited audiences August 25-27 at 7pm. The shows will also be livestreaming each night with a chance for virtual discussion, tickets are required to tune in.

Each artist has had an invaluable role in creating Songide’ewin and we’re in awe of their flexibility and commitment to telling these stories.



The stories of the youth were compiled by Darla Contois and Jo Macdonald.

Darla Contois is a Cree-Salteaux Indigenous theatre artist. She graduated from Toronto’s Centre for Indigenous Theatre professional training program in 2014, attended

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Darla Contois

David Smukler’s National Voice Intensive and premiered her solo show White Man’s Indian at Summerworks 2017 in Toronto where she was awarded the Emerging Artist Award. For the past few years she has been living and working professionally in her home territory treaty one; facilitating arts/storytelling workshops, mentoring Indigenous youth, acting, writing and also starting a family.

Jo MacDonald head shot

Jo Macdonald

Jo is Anishinaabe, a mom, theatre fan, and writer living on Treaty 1 territory. She is a member of Prairie Theatre Exchange ‘s Emerging Playwrights Unit.




The show features five ensemble members.


Josh Ranville

Joshua Ranville’s first ever acting experience was auditioning for a play called “The Rememberer” in 1998 at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP). This happened to be where he had the pleasure of meeting Tracey Nepinak and working with her for the first time as she was also a part of that cast. That was when Josh caught the theatre bug and he hasn’t been able to stop acting ever since. The opportunity to work with the amazing Songide’ewin cast is a breath of air for Josh since quarantine was feeling like a creative vacuum. Yay for this project, yay for theatre!


Aqqalu Meekis-2

Aqqalu Meekis

Named after an inuit actor from Greenland, Aqqalu Meekis got his start in acting with a cut, small role in the 2003 film Stryker. Since then, he has been been active in various film, TV and theatre roles such as a sniper with the Canadian Armed Forces in Paul Gross’ Hyena road, Donny in George F. Walker’s Adult Entertainment, Katurian in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, and even as a nameless extra (no role is too small) on the set of Outlander, on location in Scotland. Aqqalu would like to thank Sarasvàti for the chance to break free from pandemic-induced cabin fever.



Jessica McGlynn

Jessica McGlynn is a Winnipeg based actor and a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre and Film Honours program. This is Jessica’s first time working with Sarasvàti Productions and she is thrilled to have been able to work on this show. She hopes you listen to the show with an open heart and leave with the drive to listen and learn from experiences that are different from your own. Much love to her family for their continual love and support.


Sara Demers 31

Sara Demers

Originally from Quebec, Sara Demers is a transformative actress. Since her youth, body language and the human mind were her playground and her curiosity. She worked as the lead in Once upon a time, Doltra by Théâtre des petites lanternes, a French landscape play. She also was the lead in the short film Clara by Matthew Gaines that was presented at Fantasia a Montreal Film Festival in 2018. And she played in Patterns by Pierre Friquet a 360° and virtual reality independent French film that won the VR Award from the Festival du nouveau cinéma (New Cinema Festival) in Montreal and when to Cannes, France, in 2018. Sara is also a writer. She co-produced and wrote What if … an independent short film, and she is currently working to create films with Ode Productions’ team in Winnipeg.


Braiden Houle Headshot

Braiden Houle

Braiden Houle is excited and honoured to be involved in this production of Songide’ewin. He was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Selected credits include: Kill Me Now (Touchstone Theatre), Kill Me Now (Manitoba Theatre Centre/National Arts Centre), Only Drunks and Children Tell The Truth (Firehall Arts Centre), Camera Obscura (the frank theatre company), The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Manitoba Theatre for Young People), TH’OWXIYA: The Hungry Feast Dish (Axis Theatre), Redpatch (Hardline Productions), Jumping Mouse (Urban Indigenous Theatre Company), Little  Red Riding Hood (Urban Indigenous Theatre Company), Wings of Darkness (Urban Indigenous Theatre Company). He is a graduate of Studio 58.



Sound & Design

MJ Dandeneau

MJ Dandeneau

MJ DANDENEAU is a French Anishinaabe / Métis woman born on Treaty 1 Territory (Winnipeg, MB). Her tours and studio work have literally taken her all over the globe and nationally recognized with recording awards such as Canadian JUNO, WCMA-Award, Indian Summer Awards & CFM-Award. MJ’s deep-seated roots to her French-Anishinaabe and Métis heritage are translated and embodied in the music she creates. MJ made her theatre debut in RMTC’s production of the musical Bitter Girls. Some of her highlights has been, being part of MTYP’s production musical Charlie Brown’s Double Bill playing Frieda as well as the sound designer for the production Torn Through Time and Tiny Treasure, Prairie Theatre Exchange’s production “Katharsis” and Cercle Molière premier production “La Liste”. She continues to compose for numerous short films and documentaries for various projects along the way. Dandeneau is very excited and honored to be part of this production under the talented Director Tracey Nepinak.



Set & Costume Design


Louis Ogemah

Louis Ogemah was born in 1962, at a very young age somewhere near his mother in the town of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. In 1992, Louis graduated from the University of Manitoba with an Honors Degree in Fine Arts. He is the Founder of the Urban Shaman Gallery, a contemporary indigenous art gallery, situated in downtown Winnipeg since 1996. Louis has worked over 30 years as a contemporary artist, articulating and embracing the Anishinaabe culture into all his work. Louis began his theatre opus in 1989 with Awasikan Puppet Theatre, later Awasikan Theatre as an actor. He trained young people in Red Roots Community Theatre for various productions and then, began dabbling in Set and Costume design with MTYP’s “The Rememberer”, and WowPow Theatre’s Fringe play “Crisis in Oka”, and many other productions throughout the new millennia. So, when the opportunity to work on Songide’ewin, a play inspired and developed by Indigenous youth about the challenges they face in these ambiguous times, Louis thought; “I love the sound of an Orange being peeled”.





Tracey Nepinak

Tracey Nepinak is Cree (with a hint of international flavoring mixed in), her family roots are from Peguis first nation but currently lives in the Canada’s largest urban reserve, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Tracey has worked as a professional actor since 1993. Recent theatre, film and directing credits include: The Hours That Remain (director- Theatre by the River), Honour Beat (Rae Anna – The Grand London/Theatre Calgary), The Third Colour (Agatu – Prairie Theatre Exchange), A Short History of Crazy Bone (Crazy Bone – Theatre Projects Manitoba), Burden of Truth (Rose – Eaglevision), The Rez Sisters (Philomena Moosetail), The Belfry.



As you can see from the incredible talent, Songide’ewin is not a show to be missed! If you haven’t already bought your ticket for our outdoor, socially distanced shows, there are still some available. Not into the idea of being in a live audience? That’s OK too! Each night we are offering a virtual live-stream. Whether you want to see the show in-person or online, you better buy your tickets quick before they go!

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