"If you ever have the pleasure of meeting members of the Smalleyes family, you’re sure to come away with a strong sense of what “home” means to them. This extended family of performers, artists and community leaders bring along their Stoney culture wherever they go, and that’s both enlightening and deeply compelling—not just given their diverse talents and abilities, but because they share it with such courage and generosity of spirit.
This is what makes the Smalleyes such an integral part of the big artsPlace family, and why the Stoney Christmas performances they’ve held since 2017 have been so incredibly successful. Whenever the Smalleyes perform, artsPlace is completely transformed; it becomes their space for the evening, and all who attend get to experience that same intimate welcome from the family, and a window into Stoney community and culture.
The shows capture the joy of the holidays through Indigenous music, dance and storytelling, and celebrates the Christmas story from a Stoney perspective. With mom, dad and all eight children coming together, along with aunts, uncles and cousins, to help with the performance, it’s truly a full family affair —everyone plays a part!
The Smalleyes’ mother, Samantha, designs and hand-makes beadwork for the show, as well as all the beautiful and colourful regalia worn by dancers. Samantha also teaches her beading skills through classes. “At first I was a little secretive about sharing that cultural knowledge,” she admits, “but not so much anymore; that’s how we tell our story.”
artPlace is proud to play a role in helping to create a safe and respectful space for this cultural sharing. By telling their story, the Smalleyes family help others develop understanding for Indigenous ways of being and knowing and support a shared respect for Indigenous traditions. Through this cross-cultural exchange, the Stoney culture stays vibrant and vital; passed down from generation to generation."