HomeThe Unnatural and Accidental Women (2019): Leading the way for change at the NAC Indigenous Theatre

The Unnatural and Accidental Women (2019): Leading the way for change at the NAC Indigenous Theatre

This project explores the opening production for the launch of the National Arts Centre Indigenous Theatre in 2019: The Unnatural and Accidental WomenWritten by Marie Clements in 1997, the play staged twice before it was selected as the play that would launch Indigenous Theatre. This launch was centred on celebrating the strength, beauty, and resilience of Indigenous women as Clements emphasizes in her script despite their tragic fate. The exhibit narrative is supported by 7 artefacts that were used both as props on stage and in preparation for the production of the play. Each slide contains quotes from multiple sources as well as links to videos and photos to reinforce the narrative.

This exhibit was created by Katherine Li and Tanysha Lozier, as part of the ISI6354 Cultural Heritage Resources course at the University of Ottawa.

Content Warning

Please be advised that this exhibit contains information that may be distressing. Disturbing topics including abuse and violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ people are discussed and explored as part of this project.

If you require support, please contact the MMIW Crisis Line (EN/FR) available to family, friends and community members who are being impacted by the loss of a missing or murdered Indigenous woman, girl or Two-spirit person: 1-844-413-6649 (24/7)

For additional resources, please refer to: You Are Not Alone.


Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

Both the National Arts Centre and the University of Ottawa are located on the traditional unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin People. The Algonquin People have inhabited and cared for these lands long before today. Whether visitors or settlers on this territory, it is everyone’s responsibility to acknowledge these traditional territories on which we all live, work, play, and study. We take this time to show our gratitude and respect to the First Peoples, and to the land for all that it provides us: trees to give shade, water and food to sustain us, and paths to connect us. We acknowledge the historical oppression of lands, cultures and peoples and hope this exhibit contributes to Canada’s decolonization efforts and the healing of Indigenous Peoples.

Full screen version


Thank you to Professor Jada Watson for graciously guiding us and providing your insight as we engaged in this important topic. We appreciate all the time you have invested in helping us bring this exhibit to life.

Thank you to Robert VanderBerg and the National Arts Centre for giving us access to the NAC archives and allowing us to include the artefacts of our choice in this project. From retrieving the materials to ensuring we had high quality images of them, your efforts are appreciated.

Thank you to Roxanne Lafleur for sharing your creative ideas and challenging us to explore our own as we developed the artistic aspect of our exhibit. Your technical expertise has also helped us immensely, thank you!



Adams, M. (2019). Bearing witness 101: The unnatural and accidental women study guide. National Arts Centre. https://naccna-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/unnatural_and_accidental_-_study_guidefinal.pdf

Brant, J. (2020). Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. The Canadian Encyclopedia. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women-and-girls-in-canada

Campbell, M. C. (2016). “Acts of resistance”: Reclaiming native womanhood in Canadian Aboriginal theatre. Doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto. https://hdl.handle.net/1807/72938

Chris, R., Pemberton, K., & Sarti, R. (1988, October 22). Bodies in the Barber Shop. The Vancouver Sun. https://www.newspapers.com/image/495361753/?clipping_id=29826459&fcfToken=eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJmcmVlLXZpZXctaWQiOjQ5NTM2MTc1MywiaWF0IjoxNjcxMjAxNjc0LCJleHAiOjE2NzEyODgwNzR9.1INtUVIXZGCp2P_dKow9xzt3gtJOKbogiI5vgIOdJtc

Clements, M. (2007). The unnatural and accidental women. Alexander Street Press. (Original work published 2006)

Elliott, C. (2016). You will be punished: Media depictions of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Master’s thesis, Wilfred Laurier University. https://scholars.wlu.ca/etd/1863

Friend, D. (2019, September 4). 'It's about time': Ottawa's Indigenous theatre prepares to launch. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/nac-indigenous-theatre-ottawa-1.5269620

Hopkins, Zoe Leigh. (2000). Well-written, well-performed tragic tale. Retrieved January 28, 2024 from https://ammsa.com/publications/ravens-eye/well-written-well-performed-tragic-tale

Johnston, L. L. (2010). Seeking Aboriginal mothers: repairing colonial disruptions through Marie Clements’ The unnatural and accidental women. Master’s thesis, University of British Columbia. https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0071187

Kaplan, Jon. (2004, November 18). Dead women walk. Retrieved January 28, 2024 from https://nowtoronto.com/culture/dead-women-walk/

Langston, P. (n.d.). Mòshkamo: Marie Clements’ powerful script opens NAC Indigenous arts festival. Artsfile. https://artsfile.ca/moshkamo-marie-clements-powerful-play-opens-nac-indigenous-arts-festival/

Lorenzi, L. (2020). Silent witness and “scenes of hearing” in Marie Clements’s The unnatural and accidental women. University of Toronto Quarterly89(1), 126-144. https://doi.org/10.3138/utq.89.1.08

Morrow, M. (2019, September 17). The unnatural and accidental women strikes the right celebratory note for beginning of new era at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. The Globe and Mail. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/theatre-and-performance/reviews/article-the-unnatural-and-accidental-women-strikes-the-right-celebratory-note/

National Arts Centre. (n.d.). Program notes: The unnatural and accidental women. https://nac-cna.ca/en/event/notes/21513

National Arts Centre. (2019, September 5). The unnatural and accidental women. https://nac-cna.ca/en/media/newsrelease/23377

National Arts Centre (2020). National Arts Centre: 2019-2020 annual report. https://naccna-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/nac-annual-report-2019-2020-en.pdf

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (2019). Calls for Justice. https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Calls_for_Justice.pdf

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (2019a). Reclaiming power and place: Executive Summary of The final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Executive_Summary.pdf

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (2019b). Reclaiming power and place: The final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, volume 1a. https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Final_Report_Vol_1a-1.pdf

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (2019c). Reclaiming power and place: The final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, volume 1b. https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Final_Report_Vol_1b.pdf

Native Earth Performing Arts. (n.d.). Past productions: The unnatural and accidental women. https://www.nativeearth.ca/the-unnatural-and-accidental-women/

Nothof, A. (2020). Clements, Marie. Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia. https://www.canadiantheatre.com/dict.pl?term=Clements%2C%20Marie

Saxberg, L. (2019, September 15). Theatre review: The unnatural and accidental women stuns with ambitious, powerful show. Ottawa Citizen. https://ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/local-arts/theatre-review-the-unnatural-and-accidental-women-stuns-with-ambitious-powerful-show

Sullivan, S. (2013). I see you sisters like yesterday today: The unnatural and accidental women. Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture & Social Justice36(1), 65-74.

Wunker, E. (2010). The. Women. The subject(s) of the unnatural and accidental women and unnatural and accidental. Theatre Research in Canada, 31(2), 164–181. https://doi.org/10.3138/tric.31.2.164