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Silver Skate Festival features work of St. Albert theatre alumnus

St. Albert playwright, actor and director Josh Languedoc helms the Indigenous Village
St. Albert thespian Josh Languedoc is the Indigenous Coordinator for the 2023 Silver Skate Festival taking place at Hawrelak Park on Feb. 10 to 20. MAT SIMPSON

The Silver Skate Festival once again transforms Hawrelak Park into a wonderland of winter sports, culinary competitions, musical concerts, film presentations, snow sculptures and Folk Trail theatrical pieces from Feb. 10 to 20. 

St. Albert theatre artist Josh Languedoc has nabbed a major role at the free family festival as content coordinator of the Indigenous Village, originally dubbed Heritage Village. This year, the village features a mix of historical engagements as well as contemporary examples of Treaty 6 Indigenous people. 

 A former St. Albert Children’s Theatre alumnus, the regional actor, improviser, playwright, and director has developed a wealth of theatrical experience during the past 15 years. In particular, his appointment as director of Indigenous strategic planning at Edmonton Fringe Festival has given Languedoc a leg up in the theatre community, as well as providing theatregoers with a fresh lens to view Indigenous culture. 

For Languedoc, the village is a way of saying, “we’re here and we want to talk about our culture and history.” 

As in previous years, Elder Francis Whiskeyjack supplies educational stories. The village also showcases paintings and installations inspired by folklore, teachings and wisdom passed down through generations. 

Central to the project is a Medicine Village, an installation that depicts the medicine wheel’s four geographic directions that are the bedrock of Indigenous culture. 

“A fire pit is at the heart of the medicine wheel. Four areas spiral from the medicine wheel to engage people. At the east is where we learn to crawl. We borrowed a canvas teepee from Fort Edmonton Park and we’ve placed Elder stories on a loop. It symbolizes the womb,” Languedoc said. 

“To the south, we have a giant installation made from willow branches by Indigenous artist Tessa Stamp. It symbolizes the teenage years. The west symbolizes adulthood, and we apply the knowledge we have learned. We feed the inner adult.” 

“At the north, we have a big tent. We’re calling it the Sampler Café. It’s where we apply knowledge and the new generation takes over from the older generation.” 

Some of the most energetic action takes place at the willow archway every Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m., where Ben Steinhauer will relay a series of treaty teachings. At 6 p.m. Adam Erasmus hosts a walk/run ceremony through the park, ending with a willow-fuelled fire. 

“For those who come out, it will be healing and empowering,” Languedoc said. 

In between the 2022 Edmonton Fringe and the 2023 Silver Skate Festival, the St. Albert go-getter completed an MFA by writing a two-act play titled In-cor-ri-gi-ble: The Legend of Thundervoice. The story centres around David, his father, and memories of residential school survival. 

In addition, Languedoc partnered with Teresa Cutknife to co-write a play they hope will be produced at both Toronto and Edmonton Fringe Festivals. Called Talk Treaty to Me, it focuses on two women, one of settler lineage, the other of Cree ancestry. They meet as young girls and grow up to become lawyers. Puppets play additional characters in the duo’s communities. 

“It’s comedically over-the-top and explores the deepest parts of the treaties of Indigenous people.” 

Hawrelak Park is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily at 9330 Groat Rd. Parking is limited during the festival, and a free Park ‘n Ride service loop is available from the University of Alberta Transit Centre. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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