Performing Pimâtisiwin: The Expression of Indigenous Wellness Identities through Community‐based Theater


The performing arts can be a powerful means of wellness, identity exploration, and positive social representation for Indigenous young people. In this article, we outline the results of a year‐long collaborative study that explored Indigenous young peoples’ relationships between the performing arts, wellness, and resilience. Twenty in‐depth interviews were conducted with 10 Cree and Métis youth about their participation in the Circle of Voices theater program at the Gordon Tootoosis Nik̄an̄iw̄in Theatre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. A strength‐based analysis focused on performing pimâtisiwin, that is, how young people learn to enact, protest, and play with a wide range of social identities, while also challenging racially stereotyped identities often imposed on them within inner‐city environments. This research critically engages performative theory to more readily understand aspects of Indigenous youth identity and wellness and offers new empirical and methodological directions for advancing Indigenous youth wellness in urban settings.