Arts & Culture
Arts + Culture

Savage Society

An Indigenous-led professional theatre company in western canada, Savage Society tells original, ancient and contemporary Indigenous stories.

Savage Society was formalized when Artistic Director and founder, Kevin Loring of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, saw a need to have a platform for Indigenous artists. He and a group of artists were working together on the project Indian Acts at Carousel Theatre. They received an overwhelming response that proved a need for Indigenous-led theatre. 

The creative storytelling and theatre continued to emerge in response to what was happening across the lands called Canada. Written by Kevin, Where the Blood Mixes premiered on the day that the Canadian Prime Minister issued an apology regarding residential schools; the play then went on a six week tour from the west coast as far east as Algonquin territories (Ottawa).  Full of heart and humour, Where the Blood Mixes, was a timely storytelling of residential school survivors that received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, among several other awards. The play’s success helped to catapult Savage Society into the award-winning company it is today. 

Read about Where the Blood Mixes (2008).

Sharing the play in Lytton, Kevin’s home community, proved to be a powerful experience, and the practice of “bringing the work home first” is an act of accountability and protocol that Savage Society continues to uphold. Getting permission to share the stories of the people and communities being represented is a practice that Savage Society prioritizes with their many and various works.

Savage Society centres community and reciprocity in many more ways. When Lytton was devastated by a wildfire in summer 2021, the society started a fundraiser and received an outpouring of support. In only weeks, they raised more than $500,000. “I knew things would get complicated because this isn’t the work that we do, but we knew there wasn’t anything else we should be doing,” Savage Society’s Managing Producer, Chelsea McPeake Carlson, explained about the fundraiser that provided direct relief efforts to the Lytton community.

When asked what they’re most proud of, the Savage Society team highlights Songs of the Land, a multi-phased community collaboration sharing the history and stories of the Nlaka’pamux Nation. In all of their works, the team has a commitment to mentorship and supporting young Indigenous creatives, and uplifting Indigenous artists. At the heart of the work is centering Indigenous experiences in the greater theatre context, and reclaiming Indigenous stories – sharing authentic stories with and for community.

Mission + Values 

We tell our own stories sourcing myth, tradition and the contemporary Indigenous perspective

Story Sovereignty

We create space for Indigenous individuals and communities to locate themselves in their stories, and support them in telling those stories how they choose

Community Activation

Art is a powerful tool to amplify and empower community voices in ways that contribute to Indigenous self-determination and wellbeing

Cultural Embodiment

We ground our work in our Indigenous identities, practices, and living cultures

Interconnection

We support the creation of art that honours the connection between people, place, community, and all living things

Mentorship

We support artists and our community with deep care, respect and intentionality

Savage Society

Structure

Not-for-profit Society registered in British Columbia

Geographic Region

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) territories with reach from coast to coast to coast

Keywords

Contemporary, Indigenous art, Indigenous artists, Indigenous theatre, Media, Sovereignty, Storytelling

How Savage Society upholds United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

Article 11
  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.

Article 15
  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their culture, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information.
  2. States shall take effective measures, in consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned, to comedy prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understandign and good relations among indigenous peoples and all other segments of society.

There are 46 Articles within the Declaration and they are all interrelated. The above list is not exhaustive but makes direct links between UNDRIP and this organization.

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Amiskwaciy Waskahikan – ancestral lands of Treaty Six Territory and the Métis Nation of Alberta

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Organization Name:
Savage Society