Tributaries: Luminato Opening Event


Native Women in the Arts partners with Luminato to open a four-part celebration of Indigenous performance featuring over 60 artists!

FREE and open to the public on June 14 in David Pecaut Square

Native Women in the Arts (NWIA) is excited to announce its collaborating partnership with Luminato to co present this year’s opening night celebrations.  Tributaries, conceived by Creative Producer Denise Bolduc with NWIA’s Erika Iserhoff as Associate Producer, pays homage and respect to Indigenous creativity, presence and voice in celebratory, large-scale experience in Toronto.  

Tributaries features over 60 artists who pay tribute to the resilience and power of Indigenous women, land and water.  Featured artists include Lila Downs, Tomson Highway, Northern Cree, Laura Grizzlypaws, Norma Araiza, Duke Redbird, Cris Derksen, Iskwe, Jennifer Kreisberg, Cheri Maracle, Tanya Tagaq, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Jeremy Dutcher, Melody McKiver, Bear Witness, Lido Pimienta and many more!  Tributaries is a free event and open event taking place on June 14 from 6PM to 11PM in David Pecaut Square (215 King Street West).

The evening also launches the opening of The Famous Spiegeltent at Luminato with Tributaries’ presentation of A Cree Cabaret, featuring the brilliance of Tomson Highway. From 7 p.m. onwards, David Pecaut Square will come alive as Tributaries moves outdoors with a diversity of performances in a four-part program: Roots, Resurgence, Reclamation, and Emancipation.


“We are truly grateful to be working in partnership with Denise Bolduc, artistic lead of Tributaries, and the Luminato Festival. The program reflects a stellar line up of Indigenous artists and creativity.  NWIA is thrilled to work in a capacity supporting creative partnerships and strengthening our organization within the larger industry and within an international festival context. Tributaries reflects NWIA’s vision to advance the interests, culture and art of Indigenous women working in the arts within Canada.” Erika A. Iserhoff, Associate Producer

“June is the month of the Ode’min Giizis (Strawberry Moon), and for many Indigenous people the strawberry/Ode’min represents the heart, and Indigenous women represent the hearts of our diverse nations. Sustaining the Ode’min’s growth is a vast system of leaves, runners and roots and this we parallel to the earth’s waterways and its vast water systems that sustain all life. These Tributaries also reflect our artists as the connecting roots resurging, evolving, reclaiming and liberating.  We invite you to experience a synergy of creative Indigenous expression and to join us in paying tribute to the resilience of Indigenous women and the importance of the land and its water.” Denise Bolduc, Creative Producer

In conceiving Tributaries, Denise and Erika have gone beyond anything I had imagined for the opening of Luminato. It has been an inspiration to witness the coming together of this event, the gathering of so many amazing artists and the profound depth of thought and cultural connectivity motivating and shaping the program. I invite everyone who wants to feel the power and vitality of Indigenous culture today to join us on June 14.”  Josephine Ridge, Artistic Director, Luminato


OPENING: A Cree Cabaret, 6 – 7 p.m.
FREE By reservation only as limited seating available. Click here for more information or to book a seat.

Tomson Highway is a world-renowned Cree playwright, composer, musician, novelist and language advocate.  His best-known works include the plays The Rez Sisters, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, The (Post) Mistress, and his best-selling novel, Kiss of the Fur Queen. This program features highlights of Highway’s musical canon performed by Highway on piano with vocalist Patricia Cano and Marcus Ali on saxophone. A Cree Cabaret is a lively, world-class cabaret and the opening show in The Famous Spiegeltent.

PART 1: Roots, 7 – 8 p.m.

“Tributaries branch, fork and feed into larger waters, and these water systems are the keepers of land knowledge as they interact with the environment. Tributaries’ mainstage program kicks off with its first tribute to the knowledge keepers in the ROOTS program.” Denise Bolduc

Alberta-based seven-time Grammy-nominated Northern Cree and recent winners of The Lifetime Achievement Award (Indigenous Music Awards, Manito Ahbee Festival, Winnipeg) launch the evening’s outdoor program. Considered the world’s premier Pow-Wow singing group and the undisputed ambassadors of Round Dance music, Northern Cree open the evening, welcoming audiences to join them in the centre of the square. Following their opening song, multidisciplinary artist, cultural intellectual, and celebrity, Dr. Duke Redbird, through spoken-word will present a new commissioned poem paying tribute to the land, and the traditional and territorial Nations.  

Continuing to inspire togetherness and goodwill, Northern Cree returns to the stage with their distinctive popular rhythms.  In this last half hour, Laura Grizzlypaws and Norma Araiza enter the square performing their rarely seen dance styles.  Grizzlypaws, of the St’át’imc Nation (BC) and Bear Clan, has a creative, metaphorical relationship of the spirit of the bear. Feeling his/her pleasure, pain, anger, hope and freedom, she dances the Bear Dance. Norma Araiza, Yoeme (Yaqui) (Mex), the feeling of freedom by honouring the natural world and the white tail deer through her presentation of the Yaqui Deer Dance, or La Danza del Venado.

PART 2: Resurgence, 8 – 9 p.m.

Part two of Tributaries programming, Red Tidal Resurgence reflects the emergence of voices representing the power and resilience of Indigenous women. Created specifically for Tributaries, this new production features solo vocal performances by Iskwe, Jennifer Kreisberg, Cheri Maracle, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Tanya Tagaq, supported by a seven-piece band and a nine-member choir led by operative tenor, Jeremy Dutcher. Musical Direction and arrangement is driven by the vision of cellist and composer, Cris Derksen. The song list directly links to the Tributaries themes and includes existing work by each solo artist, Jeremy Dutcher and Cris Derksen.

PART 3: Reclamation, 9 – 10 p.m.

One of the world’s most singular voices, Lila Downs (Mixteca) brings poignant storytelling that transcends all language barriers. Raised in Minnesota and Oaxaca, this global superstar’s exquisite artistry bridges traditions from across the Americas, with influences ranging from the folk and ranchera music of Mesicao and South America to North American folk, jazz, blues and hip-hop. As a passionate human-rights activist, Lila’s lyrics often highlight issues relating to social justice, sharing stories that too often go untold.  

PART 4: Emancipation, 10 – 11 p.m.

Tributaries culminates with a DJ-VJ “Call & Response” interaction across David Pecaut Square with Bear Witness (Cayuga) and Lido Pimienta (Afro-Columbian, Wayuu). These two dynamic artists will call on each other to express messages through music, visual imagery and vocals (Pimienta). Each artist will demonstrate their distinct style in response to Roots, Resurgence, Reclamation and Emancipation. Joining the stage are dance performers, Krystal RiverzSiez Swift, Briskool, John Hupfield and JayRobi.

Lido Pimienta (aka Soundsister) is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist who exists in a roulette of musical journeys from traditional Columbian percussion to darker avant-garde electronica soundscapes united by her explosive yet heart-warming voice. Bear Witness is a multimedia artist, DJ, filmmaker, producer and member of electro-rap DJ collective, A Tribe Called Red (ATCR), based in Ottawa. He remixes appropriated images and sound to claim visual sovereignty over Indigenous representation and imagined Indigenous futures.


  • Artwork for Tributaries is created by Haudenosaunee artist Monique Bedard (Aura):
  • Bimmadiziwing Tattoo Parlour: Red Pepper Spectacle Arts will offer the emblematic image of the Ode’min/Heartberry in the form of an airbrush tattoo. Free to attending public.   
  • Note: Ode’min Giizis (pronunced ‘o-DAY-min Gee-zis): meaning the Heart-berry Moon or Strawberry Moon
  • Luminato’s opening night is presented by Ontario150 and TD Bank Group.  


About Denise Bolduc – Tributaries Creative Producer

Denise Bolduc is an accomplished creative leader recognized for her significant contributions and involvement within a multitude of diverse arts disciplines locally, nationally and internationally. Notable projects: Beyond 150 Years:  An Acknowledgement of Indigenous Film (Vancouver, BC 2017), Miiyuu Pimaatswin (Native Women in the Arts, TO 2016), Songs in the Key of Cree (TO, 2015), Maadaadizi/Summer Journeys (Grand Finale, Pan Am Games Art Relay, TO, 2015), Thunderbird Marketplace (One of Kind Show, TO, 2014), and as the founding Artistic Director, Planet IndigenUS (2004). She is a sought after guest speaker/presenter, host and moderator, an instructor with the Centre for Indigenous Theatre, a consultant, and a mentor to numerous artists and arts leaders. Denise is a member of the Batchewana First Nation / Lake Superior Anishinaabeg.

About Erika A. Iserhoff – Tributaries Associate Producer

Erika A. Iserhoff is an multi-disciplinary artist of Omushkego/Eeyou Cree ancestry and is a member of Constance Lake First Nation. She is the current Artistic Producer for Native Women in the Arts, and is founding member of the Chocolate Woman Collective, and the Co-Artistic Director for the Setsuné Indigenous Fashion Incubator. Erika works to collaborate with artists, communities, and reflect Indigenous cultural practices within her art and design work. She is a graduate from the OCADU with a degree in Material Arts & Design where she now teaches as a sessional professional within the Indigenous Visual Culture Program. She also has a Dora Award for Outstanding Costume Design for the play Agokwe by Waawaate Fobister (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 2008).

About Quach George – Tributaries Event Coordinator

Quach George is originally from Shawnee, Oklahoma with roots from the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and Mohawks of Akwesasne. Quach has worked as a producer, stage manager, event promoter, stylist and designer for various events nationally. Having previously worked with imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, as part of the events team and for the art exhibit Indian Giver exhibition (Setsuné Indigenous Fashion Incubator Collective, 2016). She is a Aboriginal Cultural Ambassador with experience in educational programming and facilitation, visual and performance arts, as well as heritage interpretation. With a love for all things art related, Quach is committed to offering the Indigenous community with quality programs that offer a resurgence and preservation of Indigenous arts and culture.


Rick Banville – Co-Production Manager

Derek Bruce – Co-Production Manager

Meg Mackay – Event Associate  

Manny Sound – Event Associate

Luminato is Toronto’s international multi-arts, multi-platform festival dedicated to performance, visual art, music, theatre, dance, and programming that cuts across traditional art form boundaries. The 2017 festival runs June 14 to 25, launching Luminato’s second decade. In its first decade, Luminato became one of the preeminent international arts festivals in North America, having commissioned close to 100 new works of art, with more than 3,000 performances featuring 11,000 artists from over 40 countries. Curated by Artistic Director Josephine Ridge and led by CEO Anthony Sargent CBE, Luminato is a charitable, not-for-profit, globally connected cultural organization proudly based in Toronto. Download the Luminato 2017 Festival Guide:  


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