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Oron’ónhta / Beings of Light

Special Event

Date & Time:

September 23 and 24


Hendrie Park (680 Plains Rd W)


Special Event


1 to 2 Hours

Event Description

September 23 and 24, 2023

Oron’ónhta (O-lun ‘ un-da) means sunflower in Kanyen’kéha (Mohawk). Smith’s vision for Oron’ónhta  / Beings of Light is to celebrate our kinship to non-human entities, to extend greetings, love and respect to nature, to embody the journey of the sunflower seeds from Skyworld to their home on Turtle Island. Four dancers embody the seed journey which is inspired by the Rotinonhsión:ni – Creation Story. 

NOTE: No photo and video is permitted during the performance

About Oron'ónhta  / Beings of Light

Sunflowers are recognized as a sister relatives to us along with sustenance plants Corn, Beans and Squash. The research and creation of the dance includes Rotinonhsión:ni ancestral knowledge, horticultural practices and purposeful cultivating of our gardens. Through the performance we honour the role and responsibilities of Oron’ónhta as protectors of the gardens, detoxifiers and generators soil, teachers of cycles and natural spiraling energies, and powerhouse transmitters of energy and nutrients.  

The sunflower seed dancers fall from SkyWorld on the dress of SkyWoman. Entangled in her fall, they plant their seed bodies and energies into the newly formed expanding earth on Turtle’s back, they start their cycle of life. The dancers then emerge as pure Skybeings carrying the seeds into the earth realm. The dance is set before human beings existed.

Enhanced Experiences

Pre-registration required

  • Indigenous Culinary Experience: Saturday, September 23, 6 p.m.
  • Enhanced Experience with Q&A: Sunday, September 24, 3:30 p.m.

Get Your TicketsLearn More

Drop-In Performances

Included in your Garden Admission / Membership

  • Saturday, September 23, 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 24, 1 p.m.

This event is generously presented by:

incite foundation for the arts
  • Indigenous dancers performing in a ring of sunflowers, holding a Skybeings Pot
  • Indigenous dancers performing in a ring of sunflowers
  • Indigenous dancers performing in a ring of sunflowers
  • Indigenous dancers performing in a ring of sunflowers

Image credit: Shutter Shell Studios

Enhanced Experiences

Selection of indigenous dishes from Cedar Spoon

Indigenous Culinary Experience

Saturday September 23, 6 p.m.

Join us for an intimate performance of the Oron’ónhta / Beings of Light in addition to a build your own Indigenous culinary experience, prepared by guest Chef Destiny Moser from Cedar Spoon.

  • $125 / person (+ $1 service fee)
  • Registration deadline: September 21

Cedar Spoon Indigenous Catering aims to bring awareness to authentic Indigenous Cuisine all that Mother Earth provides us, while celebrating a traditional and regional pantry of ingredients and honouring Canada’s roots from a food perspective.

Get Your TicketsLearn More

Indigenous dancers performing in a ring of sunflowers, holding a Skybeings Pot

Enhanced Performance with Q & A

Sunday September 24, 3:30 p.m.

Enjoy an intimate performance followed by a meet and greet and Q & A with dancers and artistic director and founder of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, Santee Smith.

  • $10 / person (+ HST)
  • Garden Admission or Membership is also required for entry to Hendrie Park (available to pre-purchase online or at the door).

Purchase Add-On   Purchase Garden Admission

Beings of Light Artists

Kaha:wi Dance Theatre

Santee Smith posing with sunflowers

Santee Smith / Tekaronkiáhkwa

“In 2021, I grew a Sunflower circle stage to align myself to the power and strength of the spiraling beauty of the Oron’ónhta/Sunflower. Now a living evolving performance, Oron’ónhta – Beings of Light cycles through my programming each summer from seed to seed, April to September. For me the Oron’ónhta brings joy and knowledge of Onkwehonw’neha which is the traditional knowledge and way of life of my ancestors. It’s a gift to embody our interconnections to our celestial origins and to share this beauty with others.”


Santee is a multidisciplinary artist from the Kahnyen’kehàka Nation, Ohswé:ken/Six Nations of the Grand River. Her debut work Kaha:wi – a family creation story premiered in 2004 and one year later she founded Kaha:wi Dance Theatre which has grown into an internationally renowned company. Santee’s artistic work speaks about identity, Indigenous narratives, creative process, and representation. Conceiving and directing numerous productions, she also spearheads international Indigenous collaborative projects. She is the recipient of numerous awards and commissions and works as a guest curator/director. Her recent work includes Gardiner Museum’s Indigenous Public Art for Talking Earth, 2022-23, Homelands Harbourfront Centre premiere and remount at Celebration of Nations, FirstON Performing Arts, St. Catherines and the theatreical premiere of SKéN:NEN, May 2024, presented by TOLive at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Santee will resume touring The Mush Hole, her production based on the truths of Canada’s first Indian Residential School. Santee is a sought-after teacher and speaker on the performing arts and Indigenous performance and culture. She is a leader in Indigenous land-based and creative research through her “Inviting the Land to Shape Us” series. She is the 19th Chancellor of McMaster University.

Irma Villafuerte posing with sunflowers

Irma Villafuerte

“It is an honour to be part of this work that celebrates creation story, the beauty and importance of sunflowers to the land in harmony with sky world and the sun. This work is intersected with power, joy and honouring through the virtuosity of our moving bodies and the sisterhood love we offer one another. Every time I perform this work I am filled with enormous love and gratitude for the land I am on, and the energy of the light beings dancing with me.”


Irma is a Tkaronto based dance artist, educator, choreographer, and first-generation daughter of refugees from Nahuat Territory Kuskatan, post-colonial El Salvador. Irma is the Program Director of Native Earth’s Animikiig Creators Lab and a Toronto Arts Foundation 2021 Emerging Artist Finalist. She is a co-founder of CinnaMoon Collective which premieres their first work Surrendered Spirits in 2024. She’s been part of works by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, Jaberi Dance Theatre, Kaeja d’Dance, Victoria Mata, Aria Evans, Alejandro Ronceria, Diana Lopez and Michael Caldwell. Since 2017, she has led a journey nurturing her choreographic development through residencies with Dance Makers, TDT’s Emerging Voices, Kaeja D’dance KAIR and Aluna Theatre; currently developing two important works Xilopango and Siwat Piedra. Irma’s passion for social justice, historic memory and migrant stories is her driving force as a creator.

Katie Couchie

Katie Couchie

“Beings of the Light is the most joyful piece I’ve ever performed. Dancing it fills me with so much happiness and pride. I can’t wait to share it with more people this September!”


Katie is an Oji-Cree kwe dance artist from Nipissing First Nation, now based in Tkaronto. Katie has worked with companies and choreographers including Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, Human Body Expressions, Alejandro Ronceria, Christine Friday, Peggy Baker, and Jera Wolfe. She has performed at events including the FODAR Dance Festival (2023), Governor General’s Performance Awards (2023), APTN’s Indigenous Day Live (2022) and for film projects including The Nature of Things (2021), CBC Gem’s New Monuments (2021) and the Toronto Fringe Festival (2021). Katie is also a performer in Barbara Diabo’s touring production of Sky Dancers where she has performed across Quebec and at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Next, Katie is excited to remount Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s production Homelands for their 2023 fall tour which she received a Dora nomination for outstanding performance by an ensemble during its April 2023 premiere. Katie is an honours graduate of the Dance Performance program at George Brown College and received training at the Quinte Ballet School of Canada.

Nickeshia Garrick

Nickeshia Garrick

“Performing Beings of Light connects me to the power and resilience of my divine femininity and the ancient wisdom of the earth who holds space and provides comfort for humanity. This work is a reminder to ignite your inner light and to care for the land.”


Nickeshia is a settler on the stolen land of Tkaronto and has performed on this land for over 25 years. They are unapologetically a Black, Queer Artist, who believes in the healing power of breath through raw emotion and movement. Nickeshia received their dance training at the Carousel Dance Centre (Kitchener), the NYIDE (New York Institution of Dance and Education), the National Ballet School of Canada (Tkaronto), Toronto Dance Theatre (Tkaronto), and Simon Fraser University (Vancouver). Nickeshia is a Dora Mavor Moore, winning and multi-nominated artist who holds a BFA in Dance from Simon Fraser University and is a Co-Founder of CinnaMoon Collective who is currently working on their premiere piece, Surrendered Spirits.

Held in Hendrie Park

All performances and enhanced experiences will take place in Hendrie Park, in the grassy area on the Southeast corner of the Rose Garden.

Arrive / park at RBG Centre (680 Plains Road W. Burlington), and enter the building to access Hendrie Park via the tunnel under Plains Road. Staff and volunteers will be present to help point you in the right direction upon arrival.

Map of RBG Centre and Hendrie Park, indicating to arrive at RBG Centre, and the performance location just outside the southwest corner of the Rose Garden

Frequently Asked Questions

Directions and Parking

This event is held in Hendrie Park – please enter through RBG Centre at 680 Plains Road W. Burlington Ontario. Parking is included, available in the large lot at RBG Centre.

Performance Length

15- 20 minutes in length. Performance length is estimated and may vary based on weather, temperature, and turf conditions (wet, dry, hard, soft).


Garden chairs will be provided for seating, set up on the grass turf.

Photography / Videography

Photography and videography is not permitted during the performance.

Food & Drink

Outside food is prohibited at this event. Consider making reservations at the Teahouse or Greenhouse Café for before or after the performance!

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