As You Like It – that Land acknowledgement - at BPAC until the 4th

By Pepper Parr

February 1st, 2024



To start, the current event at the Performing Arts Centre Community Theatre has had sold out in performances in Toronto and New York City and won the top prize in the drama category for the 2023 Governor General’s 2023 Literary Awards.

As You Like It – that Land acknowledgement

It was not a performance – it was an experience that everyone should have but, like cod liver oil – good for you but.

We want the land back.

Cliff  Cardinal spends 90 minutes on a platform literally hammering his audience who at times became part of what he was saying.

The dialogue between Cardinal and about six people ended up with their walking out which was punctuated with f bombs being dropped all over the place.

The message was: Forget your lands acknowledgements, they are phony balony anyway – “we want our land back.”  Roseland was the target.

From time to time an event is put on at the Performing Arts Centre that I want to review.  Most of the time performances are for two days, often just one – which doesn’t give me much time to attend, write the review and get it up so people can decide if it is something they would like to attend.

I personally wondered – why did BPAC Executive Director Tammy Fox book this event?

Turns out she has known Cliff Cardinal for at least 15 years and during her time is as an agent she represented him.

As an aside – I’ll get to the point – when people read out a Land Acknowledgement during which they mispronounce some of the Indigenous words, I cringe and wonder why we do this.  We say we care and then continue to treat the Indigenous like dirt.

Cliff Cardinal starts his 90 minute performance reading a Land Acknowledgement and then tells the audience that he is a mix of Cree and Metis heritage adding “we want our land back”.

That goes over like a bag of rocks with the all-white audience that chuckles mildly.

Less than fifteen minutes into the program Cardinal is dropping f bombs all over the place and inviting people to leave if they aren’t happy.  It doesn’t take long before those who are unhappy become part of the show is as they bicker back and forth with Cardinal.

Titled “As You Like It; a Radical Retelling” it is a one man performance the audience becomes very much a part of what he has set out to do.  The Indigenous people want the land back.

Cardinal’s performance is a mix of words, gesture, expression and movement. Collectively they stun, shock and have you laughing on occasion and leave you thinking about what you heard when you get home.

Clifford Cardinal won the top prize in the drama category for the 2023 Governor General’s 2023 Literary Awards.

The Catholics don’t get what they were expecting; Roseland is an apartheid state and his generation Cardinal explains is one of the first to have parents in some time.

Of the 7,000 unmarked graves – Cardinal wants to know who buried them, how did they die and why don’t the churches want to release the documents they have.

Someone must have kept records – the Germans certainly did.

When Cardinal speaks of a missing and believed to have been murdered Aboriginal woman he adds that missing Aboriginal woman have become biodegradable.

This is a performance that has to be seen.  When I hear mention of Truth and Reconciliation I respond with – yes – but Truth first.

Cliff Cardinal makes the best attempt I’ve seen at the Truth part.

I had an opportunity to speak to him for a couple of minutes after the performance.  We had to be outside the building – Cardinal smokes and vapes – almost at the same time.


It was not a performance – it was an experience.

He was wiped, totally drained of any energy, wanting me to ask him questions.

I didn’t have any for him but I did tell him that he had moved the needle.

Go – take in the performance and get ready for an experience.

Tammy Fox will tell you that theatre is there to entertain – to challenge you and bring new perspectives to the way you usually see things. This is the best event she has booked in the years she has been the BPAC Executive Director

Thu Feb 1, 2024 at 7:30pm
Fri Feb 2, 2024 at 7:30pm
Sat Feb 3, 2024 at 2pm
Sat Feb 3, 2024 at 7:30pm
Sun Feb 4, 2024 at 2pm

Ticket Prices

Regular: $49.50 (All-in)
Member: $44.50 (All-in)

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2 comments to As You Like It – that Land acknowledgement – at BPAC until the 4th

  • David

    I’m writing from memory here, (New World and Old World) the date that the old world discovered the new world is continually getting pushed back, as so with who the original inhabitants of the new world were, We all know our history as taught, we all came originally from the old world and in the old world you were either the conquerors or the conquered and at some time both; the same as the new world tribal wars occurred frequently and treaties were agreed upon to stop these wars. The French and English had taken an interest in the new world and the new world peoples recognized superior forces, and thought it expedient to take differing sides the English ended up trouncing the French and the new world inhabitants signed treaties with the Crown, of which some were subsequently broken.
    Talking about being disappointed with your conquerors, I was a Saxon living in Saxony and we conquered the Brits, then as a Brit we were conquered by the Roman’s and while that was happening my home Saxony was being invaded by the blah blah, then when Rome was conquered by the Germanic tribes, I was a Saxon again living in Britain and we were at war with the Celts then we were conquered by the Normans then, exhausted we came to Canada which had been conquered along with a third of the planet by the English, reading this does seem to suggest that trouble follows me wherever I hang my hat, but in my defence conquering is still in fashion. And to this young actor I say you sold your land and I eventually bought a bit of it from someone who had bought it from someone else, deal done mate.

  • Grahame

    I own property …..what on earth are you talking about???