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Montreal First Peoples’ Festival Takes Flight

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MONTREAL—The Montreal First Peoples' Festival began with an evening of murmured poetry and short films at the Grande Bibliothèque as the setup for the festivities geared up in Montreal's main plaza.

It came on the heels of the Just For Laughs festival and the Montreal Jazz Fest. Following these events, and being on the same plaza as these high-profile internationally known happenings, have put the festival on the map in ways never seen before, organizer André Dudemaine told Indian Country Today Media Network on opening night August 2.

"This is something very strong, very symbolic," he said of being in such a central, public space with a major aboriginal cultural event. "From the beginning we knew we had to do it downtown."

For years, he said, the First Peoples' Festival was relegated to a smaller, out-of-the way plaza. But now it's front and center.

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Through the weekend the Festival will inhabit this space with a 100-foot-tall tipi as the centerpiece for a display of animal effigies, live outdoor shows, artisan showcases and a food pavilion of traditional aboriginal dishes. Films are being screened from around the world, and Anishinabe rap sensation Samian will perform his Rap Incantations at 8:30 p.m. on August 4, a show that will kick off the activities at Place des Festivals.