Ancestor 73

Rayn Cook-Thomas, also known as Gwagwadaxla from the Kwakwaka’wakw nation, had crafted a dance titled “Ancestor 74,” inspired by the endangered Southern Resident Orcas near Vancouver Island. With a view of orcas as vital spiritual figures, embodying ancestral wisdom and revered across coastal communities this piece reflects the orcas’ strength, beauty, and intricate social structures, while also addressing the impacts of human activity and colonialism on the environment. The dance’s name, originally reflecting the 74 Southern Resident Orcas, gains poignancy with the recent decrease to 73, emphasizing the urgency of conservation and bringing a renewed focus to the performance.

Rayn Cook-Thomas (he/they) is an emerging Kwakwaka’wakw artist who specializes in contemporary dance and choreography. Rayn was born on Vancouver Island, the homelands of his people (the Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Lekwungen) and he now works in Tkaronto.