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Head shot of actor and stand up comedian Andre Morriseau.
Head shot of actor and stand up comedian Andre Morriseau .

Andre Morriseau is not afraid of improvising.

He’s been an actor and stand-up comedian, moved from Kenora to Toronto to Vancouver and back again. Shifted into radio, film, awards and advocacy work – all with a strong commitment to Indigenous arts and culture as a member of the Fort William First Nation.

Next month he’ll step up to the mic as host of The ArQuives’ Qaleidoscope Gala.

“This is such a fun, inclusive event. There’s no fear of being different. It’s all about coming out and expressing your inner self – and, of course, opening your wallet for an amazing cause,” says Morriseau, who most recently co-hosted with the amazing Michaela Washburn last fall’s fourth annual 2-Spirit Cabaret at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.  

This year, proceeds from the Qaleidoscope Gala’s Fund-A-Need appeal – powered by the incomparable Layne the Auctionista and a set of glorious auction offerings (think sunny getaways!) – will help The ArQuives welcome a new group of voices into the collection.

Layne The Auctionista on a stool.
Layne The Auctionista on a stool.

“Our goal is to bring in new materials from communities who are historically underrepresented in our collection, including women, trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, Black, Indigenous, people of colour, and persons with disabilities. Funds raised this year will allow us to hire and train community archivists who will guide the expansion of our collection,” says Raegan Swanson, The ArQuives executive director.

“This is not only about professional archivists making decisions about what matters (and what doesn’t). We hire community members and train them in archival skills, so it’s the community who identifies whose work is important, whose work is most vulnerable, and what materials they should aim to bring in.”

Investing in this community-based approach means broadening the collection in a sustainable and respectful way, bringing to life the organization’s core values of access and inclusivity.

“The 2017 Flashback Gala literally opened the doors to our Isabella Street collection with much-needed physical upgrades to improve accessibility. Last year’s Metamorphosis Gala helped us build out our digital access, increasing our reach.

“There are gaps in our collection and it is time to fill those gaps by including more voices from the wider LGBTQ2+ community.”

With the fundraising support of Qaleidoscope Gala guests, Toronto will have one of the largest trans collections in the world – led and created by the trans community. The ArQuives’ 2-Spirit materials – identified and described by the 2S community – will complement a strong collection in Winnipeg.

For Morriseau it comes back to welcoming everyone into the community. “I’m so honoured to be part of this event. The ArQuives is reaching out to groups that historically haven’t felt heard or felt safe – it’s the right goal for the right time.”