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The TD Confederation Centre Young Company performing Aqsarniit in the outdoor amphitheatre at Confederation Centre during The 2018 Charlottetown Festival (photo: Julia Cook).The TD Confederation Centre Young Company is hitting the road again. After a busy 2017 season that saw two troupes crisscross the country, the 2018 company has been invited to perform at the Future of Child Welfare in Canada: National Child Welfare Conference 2018, October 23 to 26 in Calgary, Alberta.

The conference is a Canadian first that brings together the Provincial and Territorial Directors of Child Welfare with the Annual Prairie Child Welfare Consortium conference, and the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work. A central theme is the need to address child welfare within an Indigenous context and to consider ways to move forward in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. It is estimated that nearly half of Canadian children in foster care, under the age of 14 are Indigenous, and that, overall, Indigenous children comprise 30 to 40 percent of children in care.

Thanks to the generous support of Indigenous Services Canada, Confederation Centre is bringing 11 company members to Calgary, all of whom appeared in The Charlottetown Festival production of Aqsarniit (“awe-saw-nee”) this summer. These young artists come from across Canada and will be performing excerpts from Aqsarniit, the Inuktitut word used to describe the northern lights. This high-energy musical re-examines Canada’s past through the varied lenses of today’s youth and shares some of the stories they hope will be told in the future.

“Confederation Centre is at the forefront of engaging in a national dialogue and this event is reflective of the art we are creating at the Festival and the Centre,” says Mary Francis Moore, associate artistic director of The Charlottetown Festival. “It is an honour to be invited.”

The Young Company will have the opportunity to perform for an audience of stakeholders from every province and territory. The troupe will appear as part of the opening keynote address and just before the closing keynote from Senator Murray Sinclair, former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. During the opening keynote, the troupe will perform excerpts from Aqsarniit and also participate in an audience Q+A with company members discussing what they wish to see for Canada’s future. 

“We are continuously proud of the work of our emerging artists and creative team with the Young Company,” says Steve Bellamy, CEO of Confederation Centre. “The National Child Welfare Conference is an important new initiative and we are humbled that our musical production, which speaks to the realities of Canadian history and this country’s efforts towards Truth and Reconciliation, can contribute to these proceedings in such a meaningful way.”

For more about this conference, visit their website. The Centre wishes to acknowledge the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support. The title sponsor of The Charlottetown Festival is CIBC. Program sponsor for the Young Company is TD.

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