Eric Robertson, a native student at Concordia, and some friends are hoping to organize monthly nights in Montreal where native artists can show their art, whatever form it may take.

This month they displayed paintings and artwork from various artists and students from the Montreal area. Next month, they plan to do something on hydroelectric dams. “We just want to encourage creativity,” he says. “We want everyone to participate and learn. We want to include everyone.”

Headlining this month’s show, which was attended by a who’s who of the Montreal native art scene, was Michelle Thrush, who grew up in Calgary, Alta. Her mom is Plains Cree and her dad is Iroquois from Ontario.

She started acting in film and TV when she was 17. She first got into the theatre a couple of years ago when she was cast for The Ecstasy of Rita Joe in Vancouver. She didn’t really get into acting as her main focus ’till she hit the theatre. The instant reaction from audiences was what did it for her. So at 21 she packed her bags and moved to Vancouver, got an agent and took it from there.

She wants social change. She thought of being a social worker but chose the theatre because it gives you “the ability to take something that you really believe in, interpret it and give it to someone else.”

Her frustrations were written into her own play, Reclaim, three years ago. This is the play she performed in Montreal this month. “I grew up with the Band politics and it frustrated me.”

“The spirit of those who call me Indian” is the name of her spirit as she makes the journey, which touches on issues like abuse of women. “Society has found a way of not responding to it. It almost becomes natural. It’s not shocking anymore to see a woman abused, the little girl with the priest. I think that’s where a lot of the dysfunctions are from, residential schools. And we’re still carrying that around.”

Touring the country in different communities with the play, she says the response she gets from people is happiness—”because it’s a release for them.”

When she did the play for a banquet of native and non-native businessmen, after the first monologue they were “harassing the technical director to stop the show. But by the end they did a standing ovation.”

“Don’t waste time” is the advice she wants to pass on to young people thinking of going into acting or any other field. “Go for it now and don’t just think about it. Soon you’ll be 30 and asking yourself, ‘Where’d my life go? I was just thinking about it.'”

She plans to continue her tour and have workshops with kids and do the play for whatever community she’s in.