Created by Jacques Lemay and Janis Dunning, Spirit of a Nation invited young and old to celebrate Canada. From the 1990s through the early 2000s, the Canadian Heritage Arts Society proudly presented this uniquely exhilarating representation of Canada. Through 45 minutes of original Canadian music, song and dance, Spirit of a Nation inspired audiences to celebrate our land, cultures, history, and our future. Spirit of a Nation was not only a show but an outstanding youth ambassador and job training program. It offered jobs for university-aged Canadians, training to launch them into professional careers armed with the pride of a nation to share with both young and old.
For eleven weeks, 30 young Canadians from all regions of Canada were the Spirit of a Nation Company. Through their performances and discussions, thousands of visitors from across the country and the world shared insights into Canada’s diverse regions, languages, and cultures.
The Spirit of a Nation show captivated and excited audiences all summer long in Victoria, the provincial capital of British Columbia. Young participants in this program gathered from every province and territory in the country to one of the most popular and beautiful entry ports to our great nation.
The Canadian Heritage Arts Society (CHAS) has continually endeavoured to invest in the future of Canada by enriching the inter-regional and historical awareness, cross-cultural understanding, and the national pride of our youth.
The Canadian Heritage Arts Society was incorporated in the province of British Columbia in 1990 for the purpose of promoting the arts through education, training and performance. The Canadian Heritage Arts Society became a registered charitable organisation in 1991 and commenced a highly acclaimed national touring program in 1992. The tour went from “mile zero” on the West coast to “mile zero” on the East coast and back again, followed by a trip through the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. The touring company consisted of 125 members from every region of Canada. Titled Experience Canada, the tour included presentations of the show Spirit of a Nation, created by the founders of the Canadian Heritage Arts Society. The production reached over 800,000 people at festivals, schools and in theatres. In addition to being nationally televised on CBC, it was also featured in the Canada Day broadcast from Parliament Hill.
This outstandingly successful venture lead to many invitations to return for repeat engagements. In 1993, the Society accepted the invitation of the Confederation Centre of the Arts to present Spirit of a Nation all summer at its Charlottetown Festival on Prince Edward Island. Popular demand resulted in The Canadian Heritage Arts Society and the Confederation Centre continuing a proud relationship for four years.
In the summer of 1997, CHAS brought Spirit of a Nation and its now renowned training program, home to Victoria, British Columbia. The Canadian College of Performing Arts was then founded in 1998.
For over 25 years The Canadian Heritage Arts Society has become renowned across Canada for its summer and full season training and performance programs. Due to its outstanding success in preparing young Canadians for careers in the performing arts, graduates of this program are now starring in London’s West End and have been featured in major productions across the nation and around the world. Productions include the Stratford Festival, the Charlottetown Festival, Beauty and the Beast, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Sunset Boulevard, Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, Hairspray, Mama Mia, Lion King and much more. In short; protégées of the CHAS programmes have gone on to major roles around the globe.