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Sister of murdered Inuk woman 'turns pain into positive action' with opera project

Sister of murdered Inuk woman 'turns pain into positive action' with opera project
From CBC - November 23, 2017

It hasbeen three weeks since InukartistDelilah Saunders and her family testified atthe National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls atMembertouFirst Nationin Nova Scotia.

Now, Saunders says she's "turning her pain into positive action," collaborating with a Labrador City composer on a chamber opera.

Loretta Saunders, a Saint Mary's University student, was murdered in February2014by the couplewho wassubletting her apartmentover a few hundred dollars in rent. Her body was left in a hockey bag along the Trans-Canada Highway west of Salisbury, N.B. The couple pleaded guilty to murder charges in 2015 and both received life sentences.

Since her sister's death, Saunders says she has been putting pen to paper,asking herself about the factors that contribute to the grim realities faced by Canada's Indigenous people every day. She says it's helping her to cope.

"I am a writer, so I have been doing everything I can to express myself on a personal level," said Saunders. "But I am also looking at the 'big picture'looking at residential schools, the child welfare system, the prison system."

Saunders says her first piece for the opera, One Stalk, One Arrow, No Stalk, No Arrow, which was premiered last week at Western University in London, Ont., is, in part,about theoverrepresentation of Indigenous people inCanadian prisons.

Having faced legal trouble in the past, she wondered who she might see in prison.

Stark, disturbing imagery

Composer Andrew Noseworthy,from Labrador City, is the other half of the chamber opera collaboration. He says it wasimportant for him to "get it right,"when considering how to pair the written piece with contemporary classical music. The subject matter, Noseworthysays, is something he could not quite relate toas a non-Indigenous man.

"It's hard to put into words," said Noseworthy of the music. "I knew going into it that Delilah's sense of raw and direct approach was important. There's very stark, disturbing imagery in it, but in the end it get smoother it becomesmore hopeful in a way."

'I reminded her how one arrow, when bent, will snap and break.But together, the way we were in that moment, the same way we were when we were kids, we are strong, un-bending, un-breaking. One stalk of corn cannot withstand the elements, it cannot stand alone,but corn in rows, side by side.They weatherstormstogether.They move together, allowing each other to grow.'- One Stalk, One Arrow, No Stalk, No Arrow

Nosewothy says he thinks Saunders's writing suits contemporary classical music,and the collaborationhas been satisfying for him.

Another step forward

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