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Festival honors, showcases aboriginal talent

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MONTREAL - Drummers, dancers, performers, filmmakers and artisans gathered in Montreal in June for the 17th annual First Peoples Festival, a 12-day event honoring the culture of the first people of Canada.

Hosted by Land InSights, a nonprofit, governmentally funded organization, kicked off the 2007 First People's Festival on June 10 with the launch its annual film festival. The festival has long been a showcase of emerging Native talent and this year was no different. The films were judged on a variety of topics and awards were given out for best documentary, best short, best animation, as well as grand prizes and other awards.

The festival also showcased aboriginal and Native artisans from North America. Festival goers had the opportunity to meet with artisans and purchase their work. A concert by a sextet performed original music specially composed for Alanis Obomsawin films by Francis Grandmont, and Claude Vendette performed a choice of works and orchestration specially created for the festival.

Inuit singer and songwriter Lucie Idlout, a lyricist/composer/singer from Nunavut also performed at the Rez, White and Blues event held June 12. Her energetic folk rock earned her rave reviews.

The visual arts were also celebrated during the event. Jean-Pierre Pelchat shared his discovery of his own identity with festival goers by displaying his work. He incorporates symbols relating to his personal history. Pelchat, of Cree ancestry, grounds his work in his strong roots and attachment to Cree culture.

The festival concluded with National Aboriginal Solidarity Day, which is celebrated in Canada on June 21. Since 1996, an annual ceremony is held in the presence of dignitaries from different levels of government and First Nations leaders.

For more information on the First Peoples' Festival visit, www.nativelynx.qc.ca.