Time capsule project tells artists' stories of the pandemic for future generations

·2 min read

A time capsule may seem like a strange idea at the end of a year many of us can't wait to forget.

But a Vancouver-based arts organization is focusing on preserving this unique time in history for future generations to look back on through 12 new digital performances.

"The idea is to have something that a future society or future community can access and give them an idea of some of the things we're going through during this big shift," author and artist Waubgeshig Rice told Margaret Gallagher, guest host of CBC's On the Coast.

Rice is one of the contributors to the re:Naissance Opera's IndieFest project, which features artists sharing stories about their days in quarantine through opera, theatre, art and storytelling.

For Rice, who is from the Wasauksing First Nation in Ontario, it was an opportunity to document his journey to learn his Indigenous language.

"I don't speak [Anishinaabemowin] fluently," he said. "I grew up hearing it and I have some basic knowledge. But, you know, it's really important for me to try to raise my sons with the language and in hopes of all of us becoming fluent one day."

Rice created an audio log describing the challenges and joys of learning Anishinaabemowin, or Ojibwe as it's also known, in the hopes that future generations of his nation can look back on the efforts made to preserve the language.

It's become all the more meaningful to him since the birth of his second son this June.

Living through the pandemic, he says, is an opportunity to re-examine the traumas and tragedies that Indigenous Peoples have survived from past pandemics as well as the violence of colonialism.

It's also changed the way some people relate to the land around them and where their food comes from.

"I think we saw the panic buying that happened in the beginning and how disconnected many of our communities are from the food that we eat," said Rice.

"We rely on it coming in from other places, whereas, you know, traditionally for thousands and thousands of years, humans have been able to survive from the food and the land just around them."

Rice's audio log and the other time capsule projects will be featured together during a virtual watch party on Dec. 31.