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Volume 40, Numbers 1 & 2 (2019)

Transformational Kinstellatory Relations and the Talking Stick Festival

  • Lindsay Lachance
  • Selena Couture
January 22, 2020


This article charts the development of, and connections created through, the Vancouver-based Talking Stick Festival to inform how performance- making and gathering over shared interests can maintain artistic relationships and nurture respectful intercultural relations. We demonstrate this through genealogically connecting the Talking Stick Festival to the 1997 Festival of the Dreaming in Sydney Australia linking this theoretically to Indigenous ideas of transformational love, “grounded normativity” and kin relations that cross earthly boundaries. We examine the strategic ways that the annual festival builds networks of communication, including movement around territories, and the valuing of flexibility to honour accountability. And, of immense value to the rebuilding of broken kinship networks is the love and support for emergent artists as well as staff and volunteers who are mentored in the ever-expanding and continuous building of relations. We write explicitly from our own positions and discuss how we, the co-authors of this piece, have ourselves been transformed through interactions with the festival as a way to show how this kind of relationship building can create a shared future. We conclude that the organizers of the Talking Stick Festival create spaces that centre Indigenous resurgence through personal experiences of transformation and kinstellatory relations of co-resistance.