Toastmasters Award to Kennetch Charlette

Taken from the Toastmasters International publication, The Neighbourhood Express, May 1, 2006:

At their District Convention being held in Saskatoon on May 5 - 7, Toastmasters from Alberta and Saskatchewan will honour Kennetch Charlette, the visionary founder and artistic director of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company (SNTC). The Communication and Leadership Award is given to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the community.

Charlette is an internationally successful actor who grew up in Sandy Bay, Saskatchewan. After many roles and productions across the country, he began to think of something more than his own personal success. The words of an Elder, "success is measured by how much you can help your people," had stayed with him. In 1998, while in Saskatchewan filming Big Bear, Charlette talked with actors Gordon Tootoosis and Tantoo Cardinal about the need for some kind of positive program for Aboriginal youth. An idea began to grow. Not long after, Charlette formed a team and initiated SNTC.

Located on 20th Street in the heart of Riversdale, the innovative theatre provides mentorship and training opportunities for Aboriginal youth in all aspects of theatre production and self expression. The process of mentorship with professional artists and elders has empowered the youth to become role models in each community they go to in their outreach. The youth involved say that the program has given them a personal vision and a direction for their lives.

Charlette's generous social and artistic leadership comes from his own life journey. He stumbled into theatre and it provided the vehicle for great accomplishments. He believes art is a tool to educate and heal individuals and communities. Thus, from the beginning the SNTC has focused on developing innovative collaborations with both Aboriginal individuals and organizations. It has received the annual Living in Harmony Award for creating inter cultural understanding. Its unique blend of community and professional theatre and staged presentations have brought new life and vitality to Riversdale and educated and entertained the whole community of Saskatoon.

Submitted by Ed Hagberg