By Troy Hasselman, June 21 2019 —
Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary’s (AAWC) annual Family Day Festival will return this year in celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day. Events and activities will take place throughout the day including a PowWow and performances from acts such as Blue Rodeo, Ghostkeeper and Bebe Buckskin.
“It starts at 9 a.m. with the free family caravan breakfast. We’re gonna have pancakes and sausages, orange juice and lots of butter,” says AAWC communications lead Tamara Cardinal. “That’s how the day starts off and then children’s corner is up and running at that time as well. There will be elders, teepees and “Let’s Talk Science” from the outreach program at the U of C and lots of activities for kids such as drawing and traditional games.”
From there the event will continue on with a PowWow.
“At 11 a.m. is the registration for PowWow. It’s a traditional PowWow which means it’s not a competition so all of the dancers that sign up will get a small honorarium for being there and dancing in their category and there will be Métis finger weaving demonstrations and the Métis village will set be set up with a Red River cart and canoe,” Cardinal says. “Grand entry starts at noon and the ceremony for the young ones to getting initiated into the PowWow circuit starts at 12:30 p.m.”
From there the event will become a part of the Indigenous Day Live presentation from the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) with live performances from local and national artists.
“The APTN are our national sponsors and they are putting us onto a national stage for this event and are bringing in Indigenous Day Live so actually it’s being broadcasted through the entire day in respect and celebration of indigenous Awareness Week and Indigenous Awareness Day,” Cardinal says. “They are putting on a free live show which is their evening entertainment and we are the morning entertainment. Acts such as Bebe Buckskin, Ghostkeeper and Blue Rodeo are going to be in attendance and will be performing.”
This will be the first year the event will be held at Fort Calgary after being held at the Stampede Grounds in previous years. Organizers are excited about the new location and see it as an opportunity to grow the event owing to its larger capacity, central location and strong cultural significance within the history of the area.
“I think that in terms of location it might actually be better for the community. A lot of our Indigenous community takes transit and it might be more central,” Cardinal says. “As well it makes more sense to host it at Fort Calgary because of the cultural significance of the space there. Throughout our last year we’ve been focusing more on the cultural and language aspects, which is our theme for this year. By doing that we’ve also been focusing on the neighboring Treaty Seven tribes to learn more about their translation of Calgary or Mohkínstsis as it’s known by the Blackfoot. There’s as well more land mass at Fort Calgary and it allows our team to spread out and try something new.”
AAWC also looks at this as an opportunity to increase visibility of the many great Indigenous performers in our city and hope the APTN collaboration will increase their platform.
“Working with APTN this year really puts everyone we’re working with on a national platform,” Cardinal says. “We hope to keep working with them into the future, in terms of having their media platform to broadcast through radio and television. When we have interviews with media I think that everyone that is going to be a part of it is going to be well showcased and hopefully they will individually gain more momentum in their businesses because of that platform. It’s shining a big spotlight on Calgary in general because this is an inclusive event and there’s no discrimination towards any type of background and we really invite all people.”
The AAWC Family Day Festival and Powwow will take place at Fort Calgary from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on June 22. More information about the event can be found on their website.