By Raynee Novak
The second-annual ʔəm̓ i ce:p xʷiwəl (Come Toward the Fire) is an Indigenous-led celebration of creativity, brilliance, culture, and community. The gathering, taking place on September 16, will highlight the voices of Indigenous artists, performers, musicians, speakers, and dance groups from Musqueam and Indigenous nations across Turtle Island.
“This festival is a beautiful opportunity to showcase the joys of Indigeneity,” says Pat Carrabré, director of the Chan Centre (which is hosting the event) and member of the Manitoba Métis Federation, in a statement. “With the various creatives we have invited for this festival, we are highlighting the incredible diversity of Indigenous talent, whether it’s through food, dance, song, or otherwise. Of course, we are especially pleased to present this festival in collaboration with Musqueam.”
The Salal Stage will display musical performances and more, hosted by Manuel Strain. A Two-Spirit artist of the xʷməθkʷəyəm (Musqueam), Simpcw, and Syilx peoples, Strain’s artwork confronts and undermines the imposed realities of colonialism while engaging in topics such as ancestral relations, labour, resource extraction, and gender. Strain is the winner of the 2022 Portfolio Prize and works in various mediums including sculpture, installation, performance, and painting.
In Cedar Grove (outside the Chan Centre in the forest), Haida’s Kung Jaadee will lead a children’s storytelling session. A professional storyteller, educator, and author, Jaadee has been performing traditional Haida legends for the past 28 years. Quelemia Sparrow, last year’s festival concert host, returns this year for a xʷməθkʷəyəm storytelling session. The Musqueam actor and playwright is a Leo Award winner, has acted on TV shows such as Fringe and Da Vinci’s Inquest, and was playwright-in-residence for Full Circle: First Nation’s Performance.
Building on last year’s collaboration, Musqueam master weaver Debra Sparrow (θəliχʷəlʷət) and Vancouver artist Ruby Singh will team up again for “Inter/weavings Pt. 2”. The composition will feature an intercultural string ensemble using a visual score drawn from design elements in Sparrow’s blanket designs and weavings.
In the RBC Cinema, “Stories from Musqueam” film series will be screened, opening with Musqueam Elder Larry Grant’s Welcome Message, followed by Gryphon Productions’ Musqueam Through Time. The short film showcases Musqueam’s history, traditions, and community, highlighting it as a living culture. These enduring practices have allowed Musqueam to set legal precedents with wide-reaching consequences, demonstrating their resilience and impact on Canada as a whole. A discussion will follow with an Artist Roundtable: Mato Wayuhi, Francis Baptiste, Miesha Louie of Miesha and the Spanks, and Daniel Monkman of Zoon will participate. cə̓ snaʔəm, the city before the city (2017) will conclude the screenings.
The daytime events are free to attend, but there will also be a ticketed evening concert hosted by Musqueam’s Miss Christie Lee (Charles). The City of Vancouver’s first Indigenous poet laureate, she is a rapper, storyteller, Coastal hand drum singer, filmmaker, speaker for her ancestors, and a direct descendant of the great warrior Capilano. Tsatsu Stalqayu / Coastal Wolf Pack, a three-generation family group of singers, drummers, and dancers from various Indigenous nations, will open the evening.
Indie pop punk duo Miesha and the Spanks, social media star and singer Tia Wood, and self-described “moccasin-gaze” artist Zoon with follow. Indie rocker Black Belt Eagle Scout opens the second half, followed by Mato Wayuhi, and hoop dancer Notorious Cree. The night will end with powwow drum group Young Spirit Singers.
The evening concert will be recorded and broadcast on CBC Music, CBC Radio One, and CBC Gem on September 30 for Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation.
When: September 16, 1pm to 5pm; 6pm to 9:30pm
Where: The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
Tickets: Daytime portion: free; evening portion: $30 to $60