White Girls in Moccasins

Gi-bgizoomgad epiichi biinjii’yii debwewin-nim

— you swim in your truth —

Miskozi is searching for something...

There’s something missing.

And she’s not sure what it is.

She goes on a search for herself and her culture, accompanied by her inner white girl,

Waabishkizi and guided by Ziibi, a manifestation of an ancestral river. 

Both provoking her to try and find the answers. 

She begins the journey back before she was even born, right at the seeds of colonization when her ancestors were forced to hide their culture anywhere they could.

Burying their language.

Their teachings.

Their bundles.

Their moccasins.

White Girls in Moccasins is a hilarious and poignant reclamation story that world-hops between dreams, memories, and a surreal game show. Miskozi recounts her life and is forced to grapple with her own truth, while existing in a society steeped in white supremacy.

A love letter to brown kids born in the 80’s, surviving in the 90’s and all those continuing to deeply reclaim.

Developed as part of the Animikiig Creator’s Unit, Native Earth Performing Arts 2016-2017

Excerpt performance at Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival, Native Earth Performing Arts, November 2016

Excerpt performance at 39th Rhubarb Festival, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, February 2018

  • Dramaturgy and direction by Clare Preuss

Developed at Banff Playwright’s Lab, Banff Centre for the Arts April 2018

Excerpt performance at 2 Spirit Cabaret, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre with Native Earth Performing Arts, November 2018

Two-week workshop and public reading, Buddies in Bad Times with manidoons collective, February 2019

  • Direction by Yolanda Bonnell

Produced at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in partnership with manidoons collective in February of 2022

  • Directed by Cole Alvis and Samantha Brown

Produced at Frank Theatre, co-presented by the Talking Stick Festival & Full Circle: First Nations Performance, “Vancouver, BC”

  • Directed by Quelemia Sparrow

Playwright in residence at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 2018-2019

manidoons collective in residence at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 2019-2022

Funding Support: Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Canadian Council for the Arts

“Bonnell herself, besides her nuanced performance and poetic, often very funny script, contributes choreography that also enhances the story.

Of all the productions I’ve seen in the staggered theatre reopenings during the pandemic, this is the show that has best understood the possibilities and the potential of the art form. This is theatre as ceremony, as ritual. The efficiency and ease with which the creative team fill in Miskozi’s story are impressive, whether it’s presenting the young girl watch her Gramma bake (that white flour becomes very symbolic) or seeing her witness abuse and then enter abusive relationships herself.” - Glenn Sumi, NOW Toronto

“Bonnell’s storytelling feels audacious in the best ways: She shows stories that most First Nation, Métis and Inuit people experience in one way or another but don’t often speak publicly about. It’s an unusual way to see ourselves and be seen. For me, it’s as if I were watching my own story. The cultural touchstones were those of my childhood, as well as the way in which I unquestioningly absorbed Eurocentric standards of beauty and defined myself in relation to them – and subsequently, like Miskozi, had to unlearn and replace them with love and acceptance. For those of us not there yet, Bonnell shows what a road map to loving oneself without judgment might look like.” - Robyn Grant Moran

Yolanda Bonnell ©2023