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Montreal First Peoples Festival Turns 25, Plans Epic Celebration

The Montreal First Peoples Festival celebrates its 25-year anniversary from July 29 through August 5 with a major array of films, music and culture.

It’s outdoor-festival time in Montreal, and that means more, much more, than the Just for Laughs comedy fest or the Montreal International Jazz Festival. It is, of course, time for the Montreal First Peoples Festival, an annual celebration of the myriad cultures that existed on Turtle Island before the advent of European settlers.

This year filmmakers, musicians, dancers and all manner of indigenous artisans will converge on the Place du Festivals from July 29 through August 4 as the Montreal First Peoples Festival celebrates it 25-year anniversary.

Organizers promise an abundance of “thrilling concerts, an exacting selection of films and videos, the great multicultural parade along Saint-Catherine Street and many indoor venue and gallery events” to celebrate “seven thousand years of human presence in this place,” according to a media release.

Nostalgia will infuse some of the events, as Blues Blanc Rouge remix “takes us back to First Peoples Festival’s inaugural activity; a benefit concert in Spring 1991 that succeeded in bringing in the funds needed to hold the very first edition of our festival,” said the organizers. “Florent Vollant and Richard Desjardins are back together onstage 25 years later to mark this anniversary and knock our socks off!”

Also honoring the festival’s silver anniversary is the 22-performer extravaganza called the Transcestral concert, concocted by Moe Clark and Katia Makdissi-Warren. Music comes from all corners of the Earth as Rise Kombucha headlines an evening with DJ Mad Eskimo and Inuit singer Sylvia Cloutier, as well as DJ Psychogrid, who will come all the way from Reunion Island.

But the festival covers many facets of indigenous life, with such events as a workshop and conference that looks at the intersection of aboriginal traditional knowledge and contemporary architecture, taking place on August 2.

For the first time ever, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), long a sponsor of the Montreal First Peoples Festival, will lead four master classes with First Nations filmmakers. APTN will also bestow its second annual recognition award to an “Aboriginal filmmaker who has particularly distinguished him or herself during the year,” the festival said.

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There will also be street theatre, art exhibits and gastronomy. The full schedule and list of acts and activities can be found at the Montreal First Peoples Festival website.