One year ago, Lori Marchand left her job as general manager at Western Canada Theatre to work on an innovative project on the national stage.
Marchand became the managing director of the first Indigenous theatre department in the world — the Indigenous Theatre of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
Marchand had been with WCT since 1999, in charge of helping to create successful seasons of theatre alongside the artistic director and overseeing administration and fundraising for the organization.
She is now working alongside fellow former WCT colleague Kevin Loring, who joined the National Arts Centre when she did.
“Working with Kevin — there’s a lot of that that feels really familiar. We’re not having to work on the relationship, so we’re really able to focus on the work,” she said.
Marchand told KTW the work so far has been planning, acquiring resources and staffing and articulating NAC’s vision for the new program.
“It’s also making room in that organization for Indigenous work and Indigenous artists. Everybody has been super receptive, really open-minded and open-hearted,” she said.
The Indigenous theatre department’s first season is planned for September 2019 and Marchand said they will tell a range of stories.
“It’s about recognizing Indigenous stories and hearing our culture and moving some of those recommendations from the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] forward,” she said.
Marchand said the stories will reflect the tragic history of Indigenous peoples, but noted all of the stories are really about hope and resilience.
“We’ll be laughing and celebrating throughout,” she said.
Marchand recommends those with travel plans to Ontario to circle Sept. 12 to Sept. 29 on their calendars. The theatre department is planning a two-week takeover of the National Arts Centre and plans to fill every stage and open space.
Although she is from Kamloops and spent her summers here, Marchand grew up in Ottawa as the daughter of then-Kamloops MP and Sen. Len Marchand.
Her return to the capital has felt like somewhat of a homecoming.
“I’ve really been enjoying going to the museums and seeing so many artists and great work,” she said.
“And I’m really enjoying using my French in the workplace. I love having that bilingual and multilingual environment,” Marchand said.
“I think we just learn so much from other cultures, so I’m really appreciating that.”