Debajehmujig Storytellers

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Debajehmujig Storytellers or Debaj as it is affectionately known is an Aboriginal Theatre company based on the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Established in 1984 by Dr. Shirley Cheechoo as a way for Aboriginal youth to see their own lives and their own stories reflected on stage in a way that was not accessible in mainstream theatre Canada. Over their thirty-year history, Debaj has produced more than 50 (ab)original creations and has contributed to the development and growth of many Aboriginal Actors, Directors, and Playwrights. They have also participated in many intercultural collaborations in Canada and abroad, bringing their unique Anishanaabek world view to global audiences.[1] Their current staff include Artistic Director Joe Osawabine and Artistic Producer Ron Berti. In 2009, Debajehmujig opened their Creation Centre in Manitowaning, Ontario.[2]

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The Four Directions Creation Process or 4D is a culturally and socially specific process. Wholistic in nature, it recognizes the artist as the creation, and the performance as the celebration. It acknowledges that as humans we create with our entire being - our physical, our emotional, our intellectual, and our spiritual selves, and therefore it accepts and specifically supports the artist in all these areas.

It is adapted to the skills and intuition of artists who have been strongly influenced by an oral tradition. It is a process that nurtures honesty more than accuracy and sharing more than starring, and it is a process that consciously uses personal resources a the key to individual and group creation.

The 4D process is the Arts Animators Cache of resources, and it contains processes relating to Theatre Improvisation, Clown, RSVP Cycle Process, Neuro Linguistic Programming, elements of Forum Theatre, and Traditional Anishnaabek Teachings. The 4D Creation Process pre-suppose that artists will be working together collaboratively


The Best Medicine Show

Dear Daphne

Elders Gone A.W.O.L

Ever That Nanabush

From Sinew to Sequins

The Gift

The Global Savages

The Gulch

An Honour Story

The Indian Affairs

The Jerry Jessie Jones Show

Jiis Giizhigat

New World Brave

Norval-A Born Artist

Our Relations

The Peace Tree

The Seven Grandfather Teachings

SKY, An Aboriginal Dance Drama

Thunderers and Water Monsters

Co-written by Bruce Naokwegijig – The Four Axes

Co-written by Bruce Naokwegijig – The Meeting


  • Executive Director: Ron Berti
  • Artistic Director: Joseph Osawabine
  • Executive Director of Outreach and Education: Joahnna Berti
  • Artistic Director of Outreach and Education: Bruce Naokwegijig
  • Community Cultural Liaison: Audrey Wemigwans
  • Cultural Advisor/Stage Management: David (Sunny) Osawabine
  • Finance: Jason Oshkawabinesens
  • Head of Carpentry/Arts Animator: Ashley Manitowabi
  • Lead Arts Animator: Jessica Wilde-Peltier
  • Sound Engineer: Jason Manitowabi
  • Head of IT: Justin Deforge
  • Head of Production: Chris Deforge
  • Intern: Jamie Oshkawabinesens
  • Intern: Nani Bell
  • Intern: Samantha Brennan
  • Intern: Steven Kiefer
  • WWOOFER: Nico
  • WWOOFER: Felix
  • WWOOFER: Jerome


  • Board President: Marjorie Trudeau
  • Past President: Rose Marie Trudeau
  • Secretary: Mary McEwen
  • Officer: Jeanette Corbiere-Lavell
  • Officer: Gerti Manitowabi
  • Officer: Martina Osawamick
  • Officer: Kathy Grant

The Global Savages

Debaj's most recent international exchange project is The Global Savages, which is equal parts theatre, social experiment, and community dialogue. In exchanges that have taken place in France, Scotland, and the Netherlands, The Global Savages' performers have presented a traditional oral history, which must be staged outdoors, around a fire, and under an open sky. Additionally, in each exchange, the characters explore and dialogue with the community where they find themselves, garbed in traditional Anishanaabe clothing and accoutrements.


  1. Freeman, Barry. (2014, Winter). "On the Road with The Global Savages: An Interview with Debajehmujig's Joseph Osawabine and Ron Berti". Canadian Theatre Review 157: 12.
  2. Debajehmujig Creation Centre Official Grand Opening