NDN Act to perform at Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival

Thursday, March 14th, 2024 12:51pm


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The four members of the group NDN Act will perform Friday night at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival.
By Sam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Indigenous humour will be on display at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival on March 15.

The festival, now in its 19th year, will feature more than 60 comedy troupes.

One of these groups is NDN Act, comprised of four First Nations women comics. The group members are Lena Recollet, Sam Mandamin, Jamie Whitecrow and Denise B. McLeod.

Recollet and Mandamin are members of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island in Ontario. Whitecrow is a member of Seine River First Nation and McLeod is a member of Sagamok Anishinawbek First Nation, both nations also in northern Ontario.

NDN Act will perform its show titled The NDN Problems at Toronto’s Theatre Centre. Its performance is part of a doubleheader with another group called B.O.A.T.S. (Based On A True Story).

Members of NDN Act were previously part of another Indigenous women’s comedy collective called Manifest Destiny’s Child.

“The four of us really enjoyed doing sketch comedy,” Mandamin said. “And so, we formed our own group. And we called it the NDN Act.”

Whitecrow said the group’s name is indeed a spoof on the actual Indian Act.

“But we decided it was NDN,” she said. “I interpreted that as ‘Native defining Native’, but then it’s also kind of a play on words. In my mind you see a lot of Native groups, but I guess what people are really saying when Native groups go on stage is here’s our Indian act, so that’s kind of funny.”

The Toronto festival will actually be the first time all four members of NDN Act have performed together.

“We weren’t all able to do it last year,” Recollet said of the Toronto festival. “Last year it was Denise and me who represented the group. We performed as Manifest Destiny’s Child. But then we realized not all of us from Manifest Destiny’s Child were going to do sketch comedies. So, then we decided to create a separate name for the sketch group. That’s what we are now.”

Whitecrow, who was busy during last year’s Toronto festival acting in a film, said NDN Act’s show is about a half-hour set.

“We’re making fun of band council meetings and just things that we’ve seen in our own communities.”

Recollet said the show will include a coyote character that she created.

“It comes out of the neighbourhood where I live in Toronto,” she said. “It’s full of coyotes. But also, just being raised on the rez in (Wiikwemkoong). I was really into the rez dogs. And in Toronto I have this stand-up joke of ‘Leave the coyotes alone. They were here first’. And I get excited whenever I see them because it reminds me of the rez dogs that roam around freely.”

Whitecrow said NDN Act might appear at other sketch festivals in the future.

“I feel with this particular sketch show, we’re testing material and then we hope to film some stuff and maybe apply to other festivals that would be interested in hosting us and hosting our show. But we haven’t really talked about it. We’re just going to see how it lands.”

Recollet said she’s not quite sure what direction NDN Act is heading.

“We’re in a total transition stage right now,” Recollet said, adding some group members have started families while other members have entered other lines of work. “Let’s just say that. But we’re still performing.”

Recollet said she’s thrilled NDN Act is part of the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival.

“I’m excited. When I was in high school I was inspired by Saturday Night Live and Mad TV,” she said. “Growing up on the rez it was always something I wanted to do. And I feel doing this festival together with the rest of the collective, I think it’s going to be really fun and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Whitecrow said the group will film some sketches and put them up on social media platforms.

“We do have plans to do some more writing,” she added. “And then hopefully in the fall another kind of show. We don’t know about festivals yet. We’ll find that out.”

Tickets for the NDN Act/B.O.A.T.S. doubleheader are available at


Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.