Review: Ebb & Flow

Our History Redressed

Review | by Norah Pendergast

Save Article Share Tweet

Ebb and Flow: Tides of Settlement on PEI is momentous as it reveals and celebrates the art of generations of Islanders historically erased from institutionalized narratives about PEI.

Stories are delivered by a mainstay cast and weekly featured artists through ensemble and solo performances of music, poetry and storytelling.

The animations of Teresa Kuo provide geographical and symbolic contours to the non-linear echoes of settlement on the traditional and unceeded territory of the Abegweit Mi’kmaq First Nation.

With resonant vocals and pulsing percussion, Mi’kmaq poet laureate Julie Pellisier-Lush articulates dispossession: “I sing for my sisters, what else can I do?”

Recent immigrant, Tiffany Liu gently introduces Chinese folk songs rendered on the pipa, then shifts gears and concludes with “Ambush,” a mesmerizing war song.

Special guest, opera singer Vhikthor Vholkhem, delighted spectators with dance and operatic arrangements of Mexican folk songs.

Tamara Steele and Mona Nasrallah  perform writings by Yvette Doucette and Emily Nasrallah, which poetically narrate matriarchal courage, kinship ties to place and the experiences of Lebanese and Jamaican immigrants.

Teresa Kuo and Jason Kun recount their experiences growing up in iconic local family restaurants which are entrenched in our landscape but omitted from food tourism itineraries.

Vince The Messenger’s autobiographical hip-hop expresses growing up as a black man on PEI through his songs “Sand Stone” and “Black Sheep.”

Each artist was asked to share music, poetry, prose or movement that represented their identity and their personal and cultural relationship to PEI.

Haley Zavo and Amanda Mark provide musical accompaniment and contribute their family settlement stories.

The cast and creators acknowledge the divisions created by our differences and invite audiences to imagine new ways of relating and collective place making. “We are particularly concerned with presenting the complicated reality of emigrating to and from PEI,” explain creators Laurie Murphy and Amanda Mark. “While we love the Island, there is also a dark side to the history and culture here. We want our voices to be fresh, unexpected and above all, real. We see this project as a living thing—something that will continue to develop, become more powerful, honest and reflective of the people of the Island in all their complexity.”

This summer Beaconsfield Carriage House is the stage for a collection of fragments which destabilize Island mythology by centring experiences that have traditionally been obfuscated. A map projection of Montague area reorients this place by identifying the farm lot of Dembo Sickles (1761-1845), a slave stolen from Africa, and the farms of his children. Dembo was brought to PEI and eventually achieved freedom, property and thousands of descendants. His story is punctuated by the sandstone markers of a nearby pioneer cemetery which has entombed the bones of Black Island settlers for hundreds of years.

Norah Pendergastreview