MONTREAL – Indigenous artists, dancers, and singers from across North America will celebrate Canada’s National Aboriginal Day on June 21 with an outdoor festival in Montreal.
National Aboriginal Day kicks off the second part of the 16th Annual Montreal First Peoples’ Festival, which runs June
21 – 25, said Andre Dudemaine, director of the festival.
“In May, we have two weeks of arts and films that highlight the more traditional arts and crafts of Canada’s First People,” Dudemaine said. “During the festival we will have several outdoor activities and events in Montreal.”
The first part of the festival was held May 25 – June 8, when more than 50 films about Native people were shown. The second part of the festival will include singing, dancing, and storytelling and will kick off in downtown Montreal.
The festivities will begin at 11 a.m. on June 21 at Emilie-Gamelin Park. The opening ceremony will bring together aboriginals from across Canada and the United States, the Montreal community and visitors from around the world. Representatives of the city of Montreal and the provincial and federal governments, as well as spokesmen from the First Nations, will also be in attendance for the event.
“What’s great about the festival this year is that we will be welcoming Celinda Sosa to the festivities,” Dudemaine said. “Ms. Sosa is the minister for economic development for the Republic of Bolivia.”
Sosa, a Quechua aboriginal, will speak in support of the solidarity of aboriginal people in Canada.
“We are expecting a lot of more people for the second part of the festival,” Dudemaine said. “It’s more popular because it’s right in the middle of traffic, in Montreal.”
Dudemaine said the outdoor festivities will also focus on Iroquois culture. At 3 p.m. on June 22 and 23, a lecture on Iroquois clay pipes will be given.
“We want to celebrate the culture,” he said. “The Iroquois, the first people of this land, would meet in Montreal, which was the market place to exchange goods.”
Dudemaine said the festival and National Aboriginal Day help to celebrate that exchange.
“We will have some pow wow dance and pow wow music, but it is not a pow wow: it is more of a place and a time that we can demonstrate our various kinds of traditional arts and crafts,” he said.
The festival also invites American Indians to join in on the celebration. Members of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation from North Carolina will be taking part in the weekend through a collaboration between the festival organizers and the Cherokee Museum. Cherokee basket weavers and potters will give demonstrations, Dudemaine said.
“Many people come out for the crafts and the dancing, and others look forward to the food,” he said.
This year, the festival will feature Lysanne O’Bomsawin, a chef from the Odanak Abenaki community. O’Bomsawin will reveal many secrets of the First Nations culinary arts, using products from the land. Traditional Native foods will also be available for purchase.
In addition to the arts and crafts that will be for sale during the festival, local art galleries that opened exhibits during the first part of the festival will still be open. The displays include the “Metamorphosis” exhibit at the Canadian Guild of Crafts, which features the Serpentine sculptures of 11 Inuit artists from Nunavik, and an exhibition of Robert Davidson’s Haida art at the Musee McCord Museum.
“There is a lot going on and a lot to do during the festival,” Dudemaine said. “We’re expecting a lot of people and it’s sure to be a great time.”
Visit http://www.nativelynx. qc.ca to learn more about the 2006 First Peoples Festival.