Bringing Home I Lost My Talk


In spring 2017, the NAC Orchestra was hosted by the Eskasoni Mi’kmaw Nation, the ancestral home of the highly acclaimed poet and elder Rita Joe, to present Bringing Home I Lost My Talk. The symbolic heart of the performance was the piece I Lost My Talk, based on the poem by Rita Joe.  Rita Joe penned her poem to express not only the pain and suffering she survived at Schubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia, but also her hope and conviction that her words could guide and inspire Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across Canada to journey to a place of strength and healing.

The orchestra also collaborated with local artists Kalolin Johnson, Carter Chiasson and Thomas Johnson to present an arrangement of their powerful song We Shall Remain. This song was written in tribute to the Elders and ancestors of all First Nations peoples. It echoes the voices of a strong and resilient people from times of innocence and harmony with the earth, through centuries of struggle, oppression and hardship and onwards into a time of rebirth and reconciliation through education and the empowerment of youth. Kalolin Johnson is also the featured singer.

Please enjoy this special performance!

Full program

DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9, IV. Allegro con fuoco

SIBELIUS Violin Concerto, III. Allegro ma non tanto (James Ehnes violin)

JOHN ESTACIO I Lost My Talk* based on the poem by Rita Joe, C.M.

We Shall Remain (It Wasn't Taken Away) – Kalolin Johnson, singer


I Lost My Talk full credits

Based on the poem by Rita Joe, C.M.

Monique Mojica, actor
Donna Feore, creative producer & director
Barbara Willis Sweete, filmmaker
Tekaronhiáhkhwa Santee Smith film choreographer
Normal, visual and stage design
Kimberly Purtell, lighting designer

Onscreen dancers:
Kennedy Bomberry
Jesse Dell
Joshua DePerry
Ascension Harjo
Monique Mojica
Billy Merasty
Nimkii Osawmick
Montana Summers
Santee Smith
Alex Twin

I Lost My Talk was commissioned for the National Arts Centre Orchestra to commemorate the 75th birthday of the Right Honourable Joe Clark, P.C., C.C., A.O.E. by his family.

Rita Joe National Song Project

In her autobiography, Rita Joe challenges Indigenous youth to find their voices, share their stories, and celebrate their talents. Inspired by this idea, the NAC asked the teachers and students in five communities across Canada to create a song based on what I Lost My Talk means to them and their community.