This project is an Indigenous artist driven initiative that will be operated through Full Circle: First Nations Performance. The project is focused on supporting emerging developing and mid-career Indigenous musicians in Vancouver. The objective of this project is to increase and affirm Indigenous inclusion and voice in mainstream media through professional development. There is a great importance in strengthening and supporting Indigenous voice and presence in the music industry where there are numerous massive gaps.
The goal is to strengthen our relationships with each other as developing musicians and strengthen our connection and network with industry professionals.
Xwechtaal Dennis Joseph is an Elder from the Squamish Nation. He is a traditionally trained speaker in the Coast Salish longhouse and has facilitated numerous ceremonies, MC’d many gatherings and is a reliable community support during times of need. Xwechtaal served 28 years on his Nations Chiefs and Council, working for them a total of 40 years. Elder Dennis is passionate about the performing arts. He is an aspiring actor, actively attending various auditions. Additionally, he comes from a long line of musicians. Xwechtaal grew up with music being a passion of the household, learning various instruments throughout his adolescent years. Most recently, he has been a member of multiple musical groups, including “The Hitchhikers” duo for whom he plays the Harmonica. Another passion of Elder Dennis’ is lacrosse. He is a five-time National Champion, with expertise in both box and field lacrosse. He has spent many years coaching at all ages and experience, contributing to the growth of the sport on the West Coast. Elder Dennis is currently on the board for the North Shore Indians Lacrosse Association. He also holds a position as Resident Elder for the non-profit organization Right to Play. He has had many contributions to his community serving as a Cultural Liaison for many events including The Aboriginal Achievement Awards, The Vancouver XXI Winter Olympics, and Talking Stick Festival. Elder Dennis has been an active participant of the Tribal Canoe Journeys for many years, including a year of paddling and many openings and blessings. He is a co-founding member of the Squamish Nation Peacekeepers for whom he volunteered for over 25 years. Through this work he established many connections with the local RCMP and West Vancouver Police Department which resulted in his appointment to a Police Board via BC legislature at West Vancouver.
FRANCIS BAPTISTE is an Indigenous songwriter and music journalist from the Osoyoos Indian Band. His forthcoming debut LP, Snəqsilxʷ (Family), features songs in N̓syilxčn̓, a highly endangered language, spoken fluently by only approximately 150 people. The first single from his LP will be released Fall 2021.
MICHELLE LEE RUNNS AKA MZSHELLZ is an emerging Cree Hip Hop artist and owner of “Native by Nature” Apparel hailing from Regina, Saskatchewan. Since relocating to British Columbia, the mother of 4 has been rocking stages from Vancouver all the way to Albuquerque, NM. MzShellz has taken her new platform through her music to send messages of strength to the Youth and seeks to empower Women & girls around the world to know that anything is possible if you truly believe in yourself. She hopes to further these goals with her next album, “Boss Lady”, currently in progress.