Two-spirit artist, poet and activist uses their voice to turn trauma into hope
- Memory McLeod | March 23, 2023
Tai Reign, a spoken-word artist and performer, is making a name for themself in the arts community.
The two-spirit, non-binary, Indigenous youth from the Peepeekisis Cree Nation doesn’t shy away from hard topics such as racism, inequality and intergenerational trauma.
With a gentle confidence and wisdom beyond their years, Reign shines a spotlight on things most people have difficulty discussing.
Showing a creative flair at a young age, Reign describes themself as an “artsy fartsy kid” who put on skits to entertain family, foreshadowing stage performances to come.
During their teen years, as mental health issues surfaced, they discovered a powerful creative outlet in poetry.
“I honestly don’t believe I would still be here on earth if I hadn’t found poetry,” said Reign. “It was a lifeline. When I was learning to identify emotions, poetry created a guideline to express and create connections.”
Through Regina Word Up and Creative City Centre, they found a safe space to explore their artistic values and grow in confidence and skill.
Reign’s busy schedule means constant performances, which means growth and evolution.
“It started off with just sharing my poems and my challenges with mental health, but as I’ve grown older it’s changed from just sharing to inspiring youth,” they said. “My dream is to inspire Indigenous youth to create art. So many of us have bad coping mechanisms and that is normalized. What I want to show is turning something negative or hurtful into something that creates hope. Elders too, everyone can benefit from creating art.”
On stage, Reign displays a masterful use of rhythm and rhyme, while still delivering an important social justice message.
Since the pandemic, they have shifted focus from changing the minds of society to the idea that change starts within.
“I think there has been a shift,” said Reign. “We tended to focus on the differences within each other. This is how we identified ourselves. That has changed since the pandemic. At the end of the day, we are all just human and all spirit.”
Time spent introspectively helped them to see the vulnerability in others, which has softened their delivery in spoken word.
What was once a driving passion has transformed into an all-encompassing compassion.
“It went from being loud and in people’s faces to being comforting,” said Reign. “It’s okay to feel negative emotions. Energy vampires are everywhere thriving off of negative opinions. I saw that people need comforting and I can help if I am honest about where I am really at.”
Their next project is a theater production called “The Rehearsal” where dialogue is used to dissect biases and subtle forms of racism.
The On Cue Performance Hub production is a follow-up to another show Reign co-created to examine microaggressions between Indigenous and settler youth in Saskatchewan.
“I no longer ascribe to a polarization of people,” they said. “That system thrives on dividing the population and makes people easier to govern. A lot of ignorance and hatred comes out of fear and confusion. If we had loving conversations, it would be easier to create connections rather than barriers.”
Reign remains committed to using their talents to highlight Indigenous experiences as a way to help uplift all Indigenous people.