It was a natural attraction at the first encounter with how the body moves, allowing her to bend, stretch, sway, and turn. When you bring the dance back, the songs, the life, the people, they all come back, awakening the spirits, ancestors and voices woven within herself.
Christine Friday is a proficient Indigenous storyteller, choreographer, and dancer. She dominates on stage, inviting audiences into her space that was received through an out-of-body experience as she transverses through multiple realms through her creations and narratives. Under her dance company, Friday Creeations, her choreographic dance works include the solo Maggie & Me: A Healing featured at Canadian Stage's Dream in High Park program in partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts. A life in progress, Christine takes us through her mindscape, work inspirations and relationship with self in this edition of CS Grid.
Before we launch into the present, it's vital to understand the events before her birth. Christine's mother was born and raised on their family's traditional unceded territory, their hunting and fishing lodge on Friday's Point on Lake Temagami. However, the peace on the land was challenged, leading to many tragedies in this area during the late 40s to 50s. Christine’s mother was orphaned and raised by her Grandmother, Sophie Friday (Potts). Christine’s auntie, uncle and mother attended Shingwauk Indian Residential School, further exploiting them to deeply traumatizing experiences. Fast forward to the late 60s, the Friday Family hunting and the fishing lodge burnt down by the Canadian Government's Ministry of Natural Resources department.
After years of unfortunate events, Christine's mother believed it was necessary to raise her family away from the community. Growing up across Canada enabled Christine to explore, dream, and make her own decisions that felt authentic to who she is while navigating life. Her upbringing sparked a beautiful truth within her, "don't search for others to fulfill life," says Christine, "and be ready to fulfill our life purpose."
"don't search for others to fulfill life," says Christine, "and be ready to fulfill our life purpose."
At an early age, Christine stewarded her own journey forward into the world. That freedom to discover iterations of her Indigeneity led her to wanting to become a fighter before a dancer. Within this art form, she was able to weave the qualities of the strong female warrior archetype in dance, which became integral to how she responds to the world, echoing her fierce matriarchal family blood ties. That fighting spirit is present throughout her dance works Maggie & Me: A Healing Dance (2017), Path Without End (2018), Thunderbird Rising 2 (2020), which are powerful responses to the current realities. The artistic process is intuitive, not bound to aesthetics, non-linear, exploring what feels right to her in real-time, allowing the spirits and people to guide her in a natural holistic artistic process. There are also remnants of these characteristics in her Friday Creeations logo. As she describes it, "it's a little edgy and raw" and bold, alluding to similar elements seen throughout her work. The lightning bolt is also a striking reminder of the force of mother nature, which intersects with her way of living and artistic works.
Staying true to herself is not always easy. Christine finds her source of healing through family, balancing between the various roles, including a mother of three sons, bringing her joy and inspiration and a life partner providing plenty of humility and fun in her daily life. If she is not on the dance floor and working her artistic magic, Christine enjoys going to yoga, fishing, and hunting while juggling the myriad of mundane things in life. Surrounding herself in the depths of nature is also a great source of energy - the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks, the wind brushing against the leaves and branches, and the chirping from nearby birds are some soothing tunes to bring serenity and inspiration.
Although Christine spent most of her life away from her homeland, she found a way forward to rooting herself back through youth programming through dance and cultural performing arts programming every summer for the past 15 years. In 2019, Christine and her family began to build their home on Bear Island. A year later, she officially moved back to her community of Temagami First Nation on Bear Island, Lake Temagami, to fulfill her potential and awaken the truth that needs to be shared. Christine would find her relationship with her ancestral lands even stronger over time, carrying the Annishinabe responsibility in building our connection to the land and freeing herself to share the truth. When describing her trips returning to the community, she says, "[it feels] wild going from homeland and driving into Toronto," a stark reminder of the contrast to the everyday life in the City. "All our stories are in the land, all you have to do is go to the land to hear the stories, nothing is lost, and I find that empowering." As she reiterates from her mother, "ancestors come to those who are listening."
"ancestors come to those who are listening."
We are only seeing the surface of the devastating and continual colonial violence on Indigenous people and enforcing intergenerational oppression and fear. Christine makes it clear that this is not a sovereign system and that it is still in many ways controlling. "The truth is out, and we must protect our land."
Christine is committed to creating a new chapter in her lineage. One where she stays true to herself, honouring the spirit and gifts bestowed to her. She is learning to "take back [her]power and take up more space." In her free-spirited nature, she also adds that it will "be spontaneous and [I'll] let the journey guide what to do and what to create." Moreover, Christine strives to "[b]e present in the moment. Just like in every dance performance, leave room to improve and allow magic to happen because you can't control the spirit, so ride with it." Lastly, she adds, "[n]obody defines who I am, and I walk my truth and empowerment of self."
And life goes on.
"[b]e present in the moment. Just like in every dance performance, leave room to improve and allow magic to happen because you can't control the spirit, so ride with it." Lastly, she adds, "[n]obody defines who I am, and I walk my truth and empowerment of self."