Alanna Onespot is a Writer, Poet and Performing Artist from Tsuut’ina Nation.
How would you describe yourself?
A Blackfoot/ Dene woman or just another human being that thrives to survive and uses my gifts and talents to keep me alive.
What are you currently working on?
This past year I was working on a project with a few Making Treaty 7 (MT7) members and collaborated with Quest Theatre to create a youth version of MT7. Back in April we finished the script and it was finalized that we will be going on tour spring 2017 in southern Alberta. Troy Twigg the new artistic director of MT7 asked if I want to attend The Centre Of Indigenous Theatre Intensive Summer Camp in Peterborough, ON.
The school gave me a scholarship and now I’m here working with influential trainers in acting, movement and singing. The performance training & director Muriel Miguel is a founding member of Spiderwoman Theatre based in New York City. So far working with all these amazing coaches, has already impacted me in huge way. I’m thinking about attending the 3 year program in Toronto, ON.
What inspires you to do the work you do?
I get so inspired by other artists or anyone that uses their gifts to empower other people through art, whether if it’s hiphop, acting, singing, film, photography, spoken word poetry or any aspect of art. I just love what it does for the soul and how it can help our people heal from colonialism. Art truly heals and it has helped me heal & express myself in a positive way.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Being apart of Blue Print Pathways. An organization that travels to young offender centre’s and remote areas across Canada and helps youth heal through hiphop. The founder of Blue Print Buddha a hiphop floor master decided to add a spoken word poetry aspect and I was suggested for this position. They asked if I wanted to have a co-facilitator. So I came up with an idea to make a spokeword poetry/rap workshop. So I approached Drezus, an influential hiphop rap artist to take on this project. As he accepted we sat together and created a workshop that helped youth learn how to turn their personal stories into wisdom stories also to use spoken word poetry or rap as our means of expression.
As we started the program we shared our personal stories & by doing so we opened a door way to these young people to express themselves as well. At the end of the workshops we had a performance night for the families of the youth in the Calgary Young Offender Centre. It was so emotional because of the growth and change these young people showed when they performed. It made me think about how we are all human even if we have done bad things in our life. These youth need the healing and support from our people.
Where has your work taken you?
So far it has taken me to Arizona, New Zealand and now Toronto. My goal is to travel the world to share my art.
Who have you worked with in recent times who has served as a mentor?
There has been a lot of wise women in my life that helped me break out of my shell. Michelle Thrush being one of them and Kate Mackenzie who is the director of Tedx Talks YYC helped mentor me to create and direct a leadership program in my own community. The program was designed to help children learn about mindfulness, self-esteem and I made a film about the program that also has a message from the Chiila Champs about being grateful. This is also an accomplishment I am very proud of.
What are some of the challenges that come with the work you do and how do you overcome them?
I would have to say that it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and practice to be a professional artist. I almost gave up few times because of lateral violence but I now understand that i’ll come across people who will disagree with me but that is okay we are all human and we all have a reason of being.
What goals have you set for yourself?
Travel the world with my own organization that helps youth heal through art and expression. Well I have so many goals but right now I am going to focus on building my performing skills and create more pieces to perform and share with the world. Then start building my foundation.
What advice do you have for others who aspire to reach similar goals?
Allow yourself to believe that you are worthy of every opportunity that comes your way to help you learn. Be your true self by not trying to be someone else. And to not be sorry for what you choose to express. Also try not to let these opportunities get to your head, stay grounded to the earth.
(Photos provided by Alanna Onespot)