World Premiere of a New Canadian Indigenous Play

This compelling one-woman show uncovers Indigenous knowledge, humour, strength and resilience through language reclamation. Written and performed by Lil̓wat7úl artist Yvonne Wallace, útszan (to make things better) is a passionate story about how language informs identity. As Canadians grapple with the brutal legacies of colonialism and how to forge a new way forward through the Truth and Reconciliation process, útszan provides a forum for cultural learning, understanding and reconciliation that will resonate with all audiences.

Join us with your families, friends and community to come together as neighbours, learners and bridge builders, and help shape a kinder future through the experience of útszan.


Event details and tickets:

Performance Dates:  Sept. 19, 20, 21, 22 at 7:00pm (Doors at 6:15pm)
Sept. 19, 20 Matinees at 1:00pm (Doors at 12:15pm)      
Price:    $5.00/person   
Age restrictions:  13+ (not suitable for elementary school-aged children)
Q and A sessions:  Facilitated Q and A sessions following each performance will provide a forum for
important questions and lay the foundation for greater understanding and compassion—both integral to forging a path of healing, reconciliation and friendship.

Buy your tickets to útszan today!


“Traditionally Master Storytellers would teach, inspire and truth-tell. I made a promise to my younger self to tell stories from my heart, and this is my heart story. In our traditions, audience, or listeners, had a responsibility to let the Storyteller know that they’re present and vocally engage. My play, to me, represents ‘Truth and Reconciliation’, and I hope that people from all walks can join me on this journey.”
– Yvonne Wallace

For more background information and media inquiries, see the press release.


Presented in collaboration with:

Arts Whistler is honoured to present this new work in collaboration with the project working group: Whistler Community Services Society, the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, the Community Foundation of Whistler, Líl̓wat Nation, Dream Makers Literacy Coalition and Whistler Blackcomb. Contributions from the working group have made the “útszan” premiere accessible to everyone with tickets offered at $5/person. We are grateful for additional financial support from BC Hydro, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Fairmont Foundation.

Whistler is located within the unceded traditional territories of the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation.


About Yvonne Wallace – Actor and Playwright

Actor/playwright Yvonne Wallace has worked in Indigenous theatre since 1990.  After attending Toronto’s Native Theatre School, she took on the role of general manager for The Centre for Indigenous Theatre. In 1997, she graduated from George Brown College’s IPAC program before continuing her studies at Humber College. At Humber she completed her studies in Theatre Performance for Stage with honours and recognition for her outstanding body of work.

In 2018, Yvonne completed her studies at Capilano University earning a certificate in Líl̓wat Language and Culture and a Liberal Studies Bachelor of Arts. The one­-woman show “útszan” was her graduating project, presented to faculty, peers, language learners, her language teachers and honoured Elders. For this work, she received an Outstanding Merit of Achievement medallion for community engagement from the Dean of Capilano University.

Following the premiere of “útszan” in Whistler, Yvonne has been invited to perform the play in Whitehorse and Dawson City and at the Heart of the City Festival in Vancouver.  She is excited to have the world premiere of “útszan” on the traditional territory of the Líl̓wat and to have it witnessed by her Elders of the St’at’imc Nation


About Jefferson Guzman – Director (Actra/Equity)

Jefferson attended Humber College’s Performance program and won the Distinguished Performance Award upon graduation.

Jefferson wrote, produced and directed the short film “M-F”, (Canadian Filmmakers Festival) and two plays that premiered at Toronto’s Rhubarb Festival. Excerpts of his first play “Playing in the Leaves” were published by Playwrights Canada Press in “Gay Monologues and Scenes, An Anthology”. Jefferson wrote “Sofie & Leo”, which was developed with Alameda Theatre Company and directed by Guillermo Verdecchia. He continues to develop his play “Solaz” after initial development with Cahoots Theatre Company.


Additional resources:

Partner groups:

Whistler Community Services Society mywcss.org  | Whistler Blackcomb Foundation whistlerblackcombfoundation.com  | Community Foundation of Whistler whistlerfoundation.com  | Líl̓wat Nation lilwat.ca  | Dream Makers Literacy Coalition | Whistler Blackcomb whistlerblackcomb.com | BC Hydro  bchydro.com | Resort Municipality of Whistler  whistler.com |  Fairmont Foundation

Truth and Reconciliation resources:

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation nctr.ca
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada trc.ca