Chan Centre, Musqueam host new Indigenous art festival

To commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, in partnership with Musqueam, is hosting the inaugural Indigenous-led festival ʔəm̓i ce:p xʷiwəl (Come Toward the Fire) on September 17 and 18 (hear Musqueam elder Larry Grant pronounce the event name in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓). The festival will feature the works and performances of people from Musqueam and from Indigenous communities across Turtle Island.

Chan Centre’s curator-in-residence Jarrett Martineau said he hopes the festival can produce and highlight Indigenous pride and creative expression.

While we wanted to acknowledge … the history of Indian residential schools and the impacts that have happened on families, we also wanted to create a space … that is an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous voices and Indigenous joy,” Martineau said.

The start of the festival will be marked by free outdoor music and dance performances by Indigenous artists at the Flag Pole Plaza, which will be hosted by Two-Spirit Cree musician and drag performer Quanah Style. Indigenous vendors and food trucks will also be present as part of the outdoor festivities, as well as a dedicated space for Indigenous community members to share stories about and remember loved ones from their community.

The Museum of Anthropology will host Musqueam Teachings family workshops on both days of the festival between 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., consisting of hands-on activities for participants to learn about Musqueam history, language and culture.

Simultaneously, the Belkin Art Gallery’s outdoor screen will display a short film and video series titled Stories from Musqueam, featuring the works and voices of Musqueam artists, cultural knowledge keepers and community members. The screening will play on loop on both days of the festival.

Saturday’s festivities will end with a concert performance hosted by Musqueam creator, actor and playwright Quelemia Sparrow, which will be held inside the Chan Shun Concert Hall in the Chan Centre at 7 p.m.

The concert, free to all self-identifying Indigenous persons, will feature performances by JUNO-nominated and 2021 Canadian Folk Music Award Solo Artist of the Year winner Julian Taylor. Inuit experimental throat-singing sister duo PIQSIQ, and multinational US-based dance troupe­
Indigenous Enterprise, led by champion pow wow dancers will also grace the event, along with many other artists of Musqueam, Squamish and Tla’amin heritage.

The concert will also premier the new musical composition created by Musqueam weaver Debra Sparrow and Punjabi musician Ruby Singh, and an ensemble of Vancouver-based string musicians. The work will combine musical elements drawn from Sparrow’s Reconciliation blanket design, giving a musical spin to a Musqueam and non-Indigenous collaboration that transcends cultures.

The performances will be recorded and broadcast on CBC Music, CBC Radio One, CBC Gem and CBC Television for a one-hour special on September 30 for Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The second day of the festival will feature a concert by Cree musician and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie, with complimentary tickets for Indigenous community-members.