Arts Nova Scotia and the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council have announced dancer and artistic director of Samqwan, Sarah Prosper, as this year’s Indigenous Artist Recognition Award recipient.
Prosper joins several other recipients of this year’s Creative Nova Scotia Awards, celebrating excellence in artistic achievement in the province. The winners will be honoured in a ceremony later this month.
Prosper’s award recognizes artists “who are Indigenous (Mi’kmaq as well as other First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) who have emerged from their initial training and development and are active in the Nova Scotian/Mi’kma’ki arts community.”
Honoured to have received the award, Prosper tells Halifax Presents that she was shocked when she learned she had won. “It’s pretty wild,” she says. “I’m only 22, and while I’ve been a dancer my whole life, I’ve only been in the arts for only the past five years.”
Calling the award bigger than just her, she says, “it’s for everyone who has been around me and joined me on this journey, about the artwork that I share and the struggles of Indigenous people all around me.”
Despite her young age, Prosper is an accomplished creator and leader in arts, dance and culture, performing, collaborating, co-creating, and consulting in Indigenous-inspired productions. She recently directed her first multidisciplinary show Samqwan which appeared locally at Neptune Theatre this past May.
With a $5,000 cash prize coming with the award, Prosper has no specific plans for the money but will use it to further her journey as a dance artist.
“My works are going to continue, and it will hopefully allow more youth to be heard and seen,” she says. “But also to continue to share those stories that I’ve been taught or that are flourishing or are starting to be made around me.”
Prosper also hopes the award can be a catalyst for the creation of an Indigenous-led dance company in this region.
“There are only two Indigenous contemporary dance companies that I know of that exist in Canada and nothing here in the Atlantic for youth,” she says. “As an Indigenous artist I am on my own most of the time and I’m really hoping to broaden that for others because it hasn’t been there for me. And maybe someday we would have our own Indigenous dance company here in Mi’kma’ki so that they don’t have to go far away to be who they want to be and stay around a little longer.”
The annual Creative Nova Scotia Awards will be held at Alderney Landing Theatre in Dartmouth on November 10. In addition, the ceremony will be broadcast online for the general public at 7:30 pm that evening.