B.C.-based dancer Margaret Grenier wins Walter Carsen Prize for performing arts

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VANCOUVER — Gibsons, B.C.-based dancer and choreographer Margaret Grenier has won this year's Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.

The Canada Council for the Arts administers the $50,000 prize, which honours Canadian professional artists in music, theatre or dance.

Grenier was born in Prince Rupert, B.C., and is of Gitxsan and Cree ancestry.

She started learning traditional Gitxsan dance at a young age from her parents, Kenneth and Margaret Harris, who were inducted into the Dance Collection Danse Hall of Fame last year.

In 1967 the couple established the First Nations collective Dancers of Damelahamid, where Grenier is executive and artistic director.

Grenier is also producer and director of the annual Coastal Dance Festival and has worked as a professional dancer since 1991.

She has scores of choreography credits, including "Setting the Path" and "Sharing the Spirit," which toured to New Zealand and to the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China.

“I am deeply compelled as an artist by the desire to impact a shift in our collective consciousness that values and upholds all dance forms,” Grenier said Thursday in a statement. 

"Receiving this award, as a traditionally trained Indigenous dancer from the Northwest Coast, is a great honour and gives recognition to the depth of this art form and to the dedicated efforts that revitalized these dances.”

She added: “I have witnessed and experienced an immense shift in the world of dance as a result of our collective struggle to create space for our Indigenous dance practices and overcome colonial barriers. It is my hope that every achievement opens new possibilities and breathes strength into one another and our arts."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2020.

The Canadian Press