PuSh Blog

Congratulations & Best Wishes to our Friend & Colleague: Kaen Valoise

October 22, 2020

This is a bittersweet announcement. Today, we give immense thanks and heartfelt congratulations to Kaen Valoise, the PuSh Festival’s beloved Operations Manager, who will be moving on to a wonderful new career opportunity with Capilano University as Assistant to the Director of the Indigenous Education and Affairs department. While Kaen’s last official day will be October 30, 2020, we’re delighted she will remain a dedicated member of the PuSh Advisory Group.

We are incredibly grateful for Kaen’s immense contributions to PuSh over the past six years. She has been an invaluable team member – thoughtful, caring, compassionate, and always spreading joy and laughter at PuSh. Whether in the box office or operations, she supported the team and never hesitated to go above and beyond to improve the patron experience. 

We would also like to acknowledge Kaen for her ongoing support of the festival’s Organizational Review process, and her commitment to maintaining her role on the Advisory Group to help rebuild PuSh through a JEDI lens. Kaen brings a wealth of expertise and insight to this role and we’re grateful that she continues to challenge us throughout the rebuilding and reimagining of PuSh.

On behalf of the entire PuSh Family, please join us in wishing Kaen all the very best in her new chapter! We know she will go on to do incredible things in the community and beyond.


by Kaen Valoise

I’m listening to Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On. It’s a bit of a “theme song,” having long lived in the liminal — but it rings especially true today as the “leaves are falling all around.” 

“And though our health we drank a thousand times, it’s time to ramble on.”

On Monday, I tended my formal letter of resignation as Operations Manager with the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. This was not an easy decision, and if I communicate only one thing to you, I hope it’s this: I am not “moving away” from PuSh, so much as I’m “moving toward” a tremendous opportunity, to assume the role of Assistant to the Director in the Indigenous Education and Affairs department of Capilano University.

“I’ve been this way ten years to the day.”

Ten years ago, I started what would become an incredible decade of working full-time and year-round as a festival contractor. I’ve worked with many amazing and wildly different festivals, from large outdoor music festivals to a small film festival for youth. I’ve worked in the office, on the phones, in the lobby, and backstage, savouring every single aspect of festival life, and loving every minute of it. Well…. maybe “most” minutes of it!

But my relationship with PuSh goes even deeper than that. I can’t actually remember the first PuSh show I saw, but the first one I vividly remember seeing is Famous Puppet Death Scenes by the inimitable Old Trout Puppet Workshop in 2006 (and again in 2007). In fact, my best friend and I often quote it to each other to this very day.

It was a no-brainer: PuSh Festival was My Kind of Festival! I immediately became a devoted fan, avidly attending, and volunteering when I could. 

More wine?
“Ja Ipsy, Ja.”

Is this goodbye forever?
“Nein Ipsy, Nein.”

“Thanks to you, I’m much obliged.”

Being hired into the Audience Services team in 2015 was one of the happiest highlights of my festival career. I hate to play favourites, but I can say without hyperbole that PuSh is one of my All-Time Top 5 Favourite Festivals. Because of PuSh, I’ve seen countless shows that have moved me, entertained me, confused me, inspired me, and challenged me. Working with PuSh has helped me sharpen many of the skills required in my new position, and I’m deeply grateful for the experience. I’ve also made friends who are more like family, and who have helped shape me into the human I am today. Like any family, we may sometimes disagree, but I will always love the many members of my PuSh family.

“Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.”

Ok, the song metaphor isn’t perfect. But this lyric does sort of apply in that I’ve been searching for something pretty much my whole life — only it’s not some “queen,” but “my past.”

When the festival came into question and under fire in recent months, neither my love for nor my dedication to PuSh wavered. It is very important for me to communicate this career shift is not in response – nor has any connection – to the above.

I have been longing to meaningfully reconnect with my stolen heritage for some time now. This is why the opportunity at Capilano University was one I could not ignore, and I’m both grateful and excited to work closely with the xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Liľwat7úl (Lil’wat) and shíshálh (Sechelt) Peoples in my new role. 

Although I’m shifting my relationship away from being an employee, I remain dedicated to the PuSh Festival, and I am committed to supporting the organization I love any way I can. To this end, I will continue my work with the PuSh Advisory Group; I greatly value the opportunity to participate in this in-depth review process. I’ll also be joining the Patron Circle as a monthly donor. And I remain not only open to, but I will seek out any opportunities that will allow me to elevate PuSh, one of Vancouver’s most important events and a vital part of our city’s supremely necessary arts sector. 

In Ojibwe, there is no word for “goodbye,” which is fitting, because I’m not saying goodbye. I’m saying Giga-waabamin: I will with certainty see you again.