Playwright Tomson Highway to visit UFV Oct 23 and 24

Desta Branham and Thelma Orgill in the 2000 UFV production of Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters. They will be reprising their roles during the playwright’s visit to campus on Oct 23.


A Canadian Aboriginal playwright with a previous connection to the University of the Fraser Valley will visit the Chilliwack and Abbotsford campuses this October.

Cree writer Tomson Highway will be on the Chilliwack campus on Sunday, Oct. 23, for a staged reading of excerpts from his play The Rez Sisters. He will visit the Abbotsford campus on Monday, Oct. 24.

The Sunday event will also feature discussion of the play, a reception, and a piano performance and sharing of stories from the versatile Highway, who is a cabaret artist as well as a playwright. The buzz about this event was so electric that all seats are now accounted for.  There is a waiting list for any seats that may come up. To be placed on the list, contact the UFV theatre box office at or 604-795-2814.

On Monday, there will be a meet and greet at 12:30 pm and a book reading and signing at 1:30 pm, both in Room B121 at the Abbotsford campus. There are no reservations for this event and everyone is welcome to show up.
Highway, whose first language is Cree, is an internationally renowned playwright, novelist, and cabaret artist (as pianist and composer/lyricist) whose work has had a profound influence on Canadian theatre and culture.

Highway was born in a snow bank on the Manitoba/Nunavut border to a family of nomadic caribou hunters. He had the great privilege of growing up in two languages, neither of which was French or English; they were Cree, his mother tongue, and Dene, the language of the neighbouring “nation”, a people with whom they roamed and hunted.

Today, he enjoys an international career as playwright, novelist, and pianist/songwriter. His best known works are his plays: The Rez Sisters, Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing, Rose, Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout, and the best-selling novel, Kiss of the Fur Queen. For many years, he ran Canada’s premiere aboriginal theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts (based in Toronto).

He divides his year equally between a cottage in northern Ontario and a seaside apartment in the south of France. He is currently at work on his second novel.

The staged reading of The Rez Sisters will be an especially poignant event for the cast members of the original UFV production of the play, who are reuniting to reprise their roles after 11 years. Director Rick Mawson is guiding actors Sandy Tait, Theresa Neel, Judy Becker, Thelma Orgill, Desta Branham, Deanna Reder, Allison Hotti, and Toivo Hutikka
once again.

“I’m thrilled that we’ll be meeting Tomson Highway and honoured that he’ll be present at our staged reading,” notes UFV theatre staffer Sandy Tait, who played Philomena Moosetail in the 2000 performance and who will reprise her role. “The only reason I worked up the nerve to audition for the play in the first place was because I loved that play so much. Our cast has reunited and the feeling of sisterhood is still tight. We’re doing a lot of laughing in rehearsals.”

Sponsorship for this event is provided by the UFV Faculty of Arts, Dean’s office; Provost’s office; Indigenous Affairs office; Teaching and Learning centre; Theatre department; English department; and Aboriginal Access Services.

The RBC Foundation has donated $2,000 toward this event.

Admission is free and public is welcome. Drop in to the Abbotsford Monday event. Due to space limitations, advance tickets are REQUIRED for Sunday’s events.  As it is already sold out, please contact Rick Mawson at 604-795-2814 or  to be placed on the waiting list. Tickets must be picked up by 2:15 pm on Sun, October 23.

Find out more about Tomson Highway at:


Media contact: Anne Russell
Cell: 604-798-3709
Office: 604-795-2826


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One Response to Playwright Tomson Highway to visit UFV Oct 23 and 24

  1. Marissa Gabriel March 22, 2013 at 3:43 am #

    Hi, I am leaving a message for Toivo Hutikka. He is an old friend of mine, can you please give him my info?