Let’s say you don’t have $300+ to spend on concert tickets, but with all the buzz around Ohseaga, you want to festival too. Well, Montreal has another festival this weekend, one you might not have heard about, The Montreal First Peoples Festival. The festival has a Canadian focus, but includes representatives from nations that go all the way to South America and Asia.
The festival has concerts, films, and some awesome live events to check out at Place des Arts. Oh, and food. Did I mention the food? Get this dish from last year: Elk sausage and pulled bison on a corn bun with blueberry sauce and cabbage. And you get to roast the sausage yourself. Did you think you’d get to roast your own elk? Probably not.
One of the more popular things is a chance to check out cultural artifacts of different nations. There are native crafts on display, but most eye catching are the colorful tipis and the Inuit tupik that are set up, including the great central tipi that is meant to unite the sky, the earth, and the underwater world. There is also a longhouse, being used to screen films. There is a street theatre performance, Sun Trapped in a Snare, that includes puppetry, singing, and storytelling. A parade for peace and brotherhood in the Americas takes place on Saturday August 2 at 4 p.m. along St. Catherine.
One hot event at the festival is the juried film competition. Films being shown at the Cinémathèque Quebécoise focus on different first nations from around the world, from Brazil to Asia. Drunktown’s Finest, by Navajo director Sydney Freeland looks at three young Navajo women and issues of sexuality. Rhymes for Young Ghouls by Jeff Barnaby has Aila, a Mi’kmaq teenager take revenge on the Indian Affairs agent who abuses his charges. From Finland comes Donagh Coleman and Lharitgso’s documentary Sanansaattaja about the saga of King Gesar which is revived in the dreams of an illiterate Shephard of Tibet.
There are five major concerts taking place associated with the festival, though several have already taken place. Still upcoming is the Concert Electro Choc that features Cris Derksen, cellist, who combines classical training, aboriginal ancestry, and electronica and DJ Shub, who normally DJs for A Tribe Called Red, will be DJing solo. Also watch for Beatrice Deer and Sinuupa and the upcoming and emerging artists at Banc D’Essai.
Art exhibits are also part of the program. A trip out to Kahnawake has the work of Martin A. Loft, Natasha Smoke Santiago, Steven Silver Bear McComber and others at the Rapid Water Gallery, and the works of Owisokon Lahache at the Cultural Centre of Kahnawake. On St. Catherine Street at Place des Arts, though Regalia, Native Pride contrasts 30 portraits of first nations individuals in contemporary dress with their powwow dress. Finally, the work of Eruoma Awashish is on display at the Guilde canadienne des métiers d’art (1460-B Sherbrooke W).
The Montreal First Peoples Festival runs until August 5. The festival is located in both Place des Arts and Kahnawake.