TORONTO – Beginning this week the Aboriginal Pavilion – the lone “official” Indigenous music and arts festival taking place during the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games – becomes one of the summer’s hottest free admission festival destinations bringing together Indigenous musicians and artists from across the Americas. The Pavilion will showcase the art, music, culture and traditions of Aboriginal peoples with up to 10,000 festival attendees expected at the Fort York Historic Site’s Garrison Common grounds.
The Pavilion kicks off its first week in grand style on July 16th (7-9pm) with a star studded Opening Night Showcase extravaganza co-produced by Alejandro Ronceria an internationally acclaimed award-winning live event producer who’s long list of credits include working as the choreographer for the official opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and as lead director/choreographer for the Arctic Winter Games Opening Gala in 2012.
Ronceria alongside Rheanne Chartrand, the Aboriginal Pavilion’s Artistic Director teamed up to launch a one night only multi-disciplinary and audio visual assault on the senses, featuring a wide array of Indigenous artists from across the America’s including dancers, dramatists, musicians and athletes. This Opening Night extravaganza features everyone from iconic musician Murray Porter and buzzy new school powerhouse vocalist Mariame dubbed the “Cree Rihanna”; to Nunavut vocal percussionist and guitarist Nelson Tagoona and genre defying cellist Cris Derksen, all the way to 2015 AFROPOP “Syli D’Or” Award winner and Nuevo Latino movement trend setter Akawui, who will be accompanied by the Red Tail Spirit Singers from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne. These acts join Nipissing’s unique multi-disciplinary arts producer Aanmitaagzi, alongside Jaime Dupuis, Marijosée, Niiko Soul, Tuktoyatuk Siglit Drummers and Dancers, Patricia Cano, Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, Tonantzin Aztec Dance Group, Tribal Vision and the NWT Youth Ambassadors Program among others, for this one night showcase to remember.
Here are some other Aboriginal Pavilion festival highlights for week one (July 16th-19th):
The “live” music concert portion of the Pavilion running on the evenings of July 17th and 18th features an energetic mix of music styles, from traditional, rock, hip hop and blues to electronic, pop, classical and folk. A virtual who’s who of Indigenous music talents from across North America including A Tribe Called Red, Classic Roots, Reyes Poetry & Sacramento Knoxx, Lido Pimienta, Nigel Irwin, Nick Sherman, Shawnee, and Bitterly Divine (led by Tewanee Joseph). Check website schedule for detailed performance times.
A much anticipated and uniquely curated comedy night on July 19th (6-8 pm) featuring renowned sketch comedy group 1491s (as seen on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), Candy Palmater (from award-winning APTN’s The Candy Show), the “half-breed humor” of Dustin Hollings (of the Banned Council), and Ryan McMahon – the first Native comedian to ever tape a one hour mainstream stand-up comedy special “Ryan McMahon – UnReserved” for CBC TV – will leave audiences in stitches while turning stereotypes on their head.
DANCE, THEATRE & FAMILY PROGRAMMING
Extensive dance, theatre and family programming will be featured during the day on the Small Stage and includes Chad Solomon’s interactive puppet show Rabbit and Bear Paws – The Way, Michelle Thrush’s one-woman Find Your Own Inner Elder show, Tribal Vision’s Pow Wow 101, a Smoke Dance Competition by Six Nations, Iskwew Singers performances, Hoop Dancing with former two-time World Champion Hoop Dancer Lisa Odjig (the first woman to ever win this title) and Eddy Robinson’s drum-fuelled music and storytelling, among other things (check website schedule for detailed performance times).
In the spirit of the Pan Am games, the Sports Zone (sponsored by TransCanada) will feature notable Indigenous athletes performing demonstrations and facilitating a whole host of family-friendly workshops. From lacrosse demos with the Six Nations Lacrosse Team, (ASWCO) Aboriginal Sport & Wellness Council of Ontario’s ball hockey, volleyball, boxing with World and Canadian champion Mary Spencer, golf workshops, demonstrations of Urban Poling – one of Canada’s fastest growing fitness activities – all the way to NWT Youth Traditional Games Demos, festival attendees will feel like they are a part of the Games action.
VISUAL ART, MIXED MEDIA & FILM
“Gazing Back, Looking Forward” (curated by Rhéanne Chartrand) is a photographic and mixed media exhibit that features the works of established and emerging Indigenous artists Jordan Bennett, Keesic Douglas, Terrance Houle, Nadya Kwandibens, Meryl McMaster, Jeff Thomas, Anthony “Thosh” Collins, Lindsay Delaronde, Jason Jenkins, Jason Lujan, Rene Meshake,
Brandan Wilson, and Will Wilson. By challenging conventional notions of what it means to be Indigenous, these artists question the validity of tropes and codifiers of Indian-ness pervasive in the public stereotype of the singular, monolithic and one-dimensional image of the “Hollywood Indian.” The exhibition will also feature Souvenir, a single channel video installation presenting four short films created by Jeff Barnaby, Michelle Latimer, Kent Monkman and Caroline Monnet produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Gazing Back, Looking Forward will be on display throughout the duration of the Pavilion in the Orientation Theatre of Fort York National Historic Site’s Visitor’s Centre.
VENDORS, CRAFTS & ARTS MARKETPLACE
Festival attendees will be treated to some of the finest displays of traditional and contemporary crafts, unique visual art, jewelry, fashion apparel, beadwork and wearable art. Come peruse and purchase one-of-a-kind cultural items from Jay Bell Redbird, Barb Nahwegahbow, Vision Artworks (Tracey Anthony), Naomi Smith, PROUD TO BE (Earl Lambert), and William Monague among others.
The talented Aboriginal chefs of Morningstar Hospitality alongside a wide range of food vendors will be on hand throughout the festival to offer up some tasty cultural culinary treats for visitors in the Pavilion’s Food Marketplace.
The Aboriginal Pavilion runs from July 16-26th at the Fort York Historic Site’s Garrison Common grounds (250 Fort York Blvd). All events are FREE admission. For the full Aboriginal Pavilion schedule and event listings please visit: alppavilion.ca and follow @alp_pavilion
The Aboriginal Pavilion acknowledges the financial support of the Dreamcatchers Charitable Foundation, K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation, Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto – Community Funding, TransCanada, and Urban Poling.