Moving Toward Truth and Reconciliation Through Art: Pitblado Law Celebrates Indigenous Musical Stories composed by Cree Composer, Andrew Balfour, and performed by Dead of Winter


In honour of the third annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Pitblado Law showcased the transformative choral musical works by Andrew Balfour, the world-renowned Cree Artistic Director/Composer.


Last year, Andrew collaborated with Vancouver’s Musica Intima to create the Juno-nominated recording Nagamo. In addition to being Artistic Director of Dead of Winter, Andrew is Resident Composer of the Vancouver Chamber Choir and was Curator and Composer-in-Residence of the WSO’s inaugural Indigenous Festival. In 2017, he was awarded a Gold Medal by the Senate of Canada for his contribution to Canada’s Indigenous and music communities.


Dead of Winter (previously Camerata Nova) was formed in 1996 and has gradually evolved into Canada’s leading Indigenous-led Choral Ensemble. Andrew is at the core of this evolution and in the last few years, his Truth and Reconciliation works have received National acclaim. Andrew’s music combines early music polyphony with Indigenous rhythms and soundscapes. Andrew and Dead of Winter strive to channel both ancient and new voices.


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathered stories from the Indigenous community between 2007 and 2015 when its findings were published. As part of its findings, 94 Calls to Action were issued. Andrew’s response to the Calls to Action was to plan a series of three TRC works, Taken (Quamaniq), Fallen (Notinikew), and Captive, works which Dead of Winter premiered between 2017 and 2022. These works have since found a National audience through Dead of Winter performances in Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal. The fourth in the series, Transformation, will be performed in Winnipeg on February 24, 2024, and in collaboration with Musica Intima, and at PODIUM, the biennial conference of Canadian choral composers, to be held in Toronto in June.


More information on Dead of Winter performances and Andrew’s works are available on their website. The page dedicated to the Truth and Reconciliation concert series, complete with video of the three concerts, is located here.




Wa Wa Tey Wak – 2006/2011 (a fable Indigenous street people)- Élise Lavallée, viola


Medieval Inuit – 2010 (early Norse meet Inuit) – Madeleine Allakariallak, Sylvia Cloutier – Inuit folk/throat singers


Empire Étrange – 2012 (Riel’s last days) – Correction Line Ensemble


North End Love Songs – 2016 (Indigenous and Immigrant stories) – Katherena Vermette, poet


Take the Indian – 2016/17 (Residential Schools) – Cory Campbell, traditional Indigenous singer/drummer;  Yuri Hooker, cello


Taken (Qaumaniq) – 2017 (the taking of culture and language) – Eekwol, Indigenous rapper; Jeremy Dutcher, Indigenous Singer/Composer; Madeleine Allakarialluk, Inuit folk/throat sInger; Leanne Zacharias, cello


Red River Song – 2018 (Metis stories) – Alexandre Tétrault, Métis fiddler; Eliot Britton, Métis composer


Fallen – 2018/19 (First Nations’ soldiers in Canada’s world wars) – Cris Derksen, cello; Cory Campbell, traditional Indigenous singer/drummer; Winnipeg Boys’ Choir


Captive – 2022 (Chief Poundmaker’s story and the general theme of Indigenous people being captive) – Melody McKiver, viola; Alexandre Tétrault, fiddle; Coco Stevenson, Indigenous narrator; Rosary Spence, Indigenous singer, Cheri Maracle, singer/actor; Kristie Lane Sinclair, Indigenous composer.


Medieval Inuit – 2022 recording – Aleatra Sammurtok and Zeann Manernaluk, Inuit throat Singers; Jennifer Thiessen, viola; Victoria Sparks, percussion.


Notinikew (2023)  (First Nations soldiers) – Winston Wuttunee, Indigenous singer/narrator; Cory Campbell, traditional Indigenous singer/drummer; Leanne Zacharias, cello.


Transformation (2024) (Cultures come together) – Sherryl Sewepagagaham, Indigenous singer/composer; Hussein Janmohamed, Ismaili singer/composer; Cory Campbell, traditional Indigenous singer/drummer; Leanne Zacharias, cello.