(This story is sponsored by the Talking Stick Festival)
As wildly varied as this year’s Talking Stick Festival is, there’s also an overriding and unifying philosophy, and that’s the importance of diversity and inclusivity.
Titled “Summer Reverb”, the 22nd edition of the fest honours and celebrates National Indigenous History Month with ambitious programming spanning the worlds of theatre, literary, music, film, fashion, storytelling, round-table events, and more. Shining bright across the various disciplines are both established and, importantly, emerging artists who will have their work spotlighted in North America’s premiere Indigenous arts and culture celebration.
All events take place on the traditional, unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples until July 2, with everyone welcome.
The Summer Reverb theme reflects the idea of amplified sound and amplified voices, those playing a huge role in the musical showcases.
Mohawk singer-songwriter Logan Staats headlines a June 21 Summer Solstice Celebration featuring not only music but singing, storytelling, a fashion show, and more. Born on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Staats rose to national prominence in 2018, when he won CTV’s The Launch. Massively influenced by Piapot Cree Nation legend Buffy Sainte-Marie, Staats rocketed to number one on the iTunes charts that year with his smash single “The Lucky Ones”, and then used his newfound fame to make a difference, visiting public schools in Canada to connect with and inspire Indigenous students.
Summer Reverb also has DJ Kookum hosting Indigenous Day Eve at Performance Works on June 20, the night exploring the ties between Indigenous traditions and the cultural juggernaut that is hip-hop. A Dene/Cree member of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Kookum is known for both her genre-mashing solo performances and her beatmaking with Vancouver-based Haisla hip-hop heavyweights Snotty Nose Rez Kids. Joining her for DJ Kookum’s Indigenous Day Eve will be breakout West Coast Afro-Indigenous producer Sekawnee, and rapper Ms Shellz.
For an aural experience of a different kind, The Seventh Fire runs June 27 to July 2 at Lobe Studios, and offers an immersive audio performance inspired by Anishinaabe stories and oral traditions. Created by Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen, a multidisciplinary artist and writer of Ojibwe/Swampy Cree and English/Irish descent, The Seventh Fire invites audiences to sit, lie down, or make their way around the room as the studio’s 4D sound system acts as a portal to dreams and the story of sisters Daanis and Nimise and their grandmother Nokomis.
Bridging the worlds of music and film at Summer Reverb is Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, an award-winning documentary that explores the way Native American music and Indigenous musicians have helped shape rock and pop music.
Winner of both the Audience Award and Best Canadian Film at Toronto’s high-profile Hot Docs festival, Rumble connects the past to the present with references to Indigenous musical icons such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Link Wray, Robbie Robertson, and Jimi Hendrix. Following the screening at the VIFF Centre on June 27, Indigenous singer-songwriter, activist, and storyteller Pura Fé will give a talk moderated by Doreen Manuel, with M’Girl singing at the reception.
One of the major focuses of Summer Reverb is elevating the voices of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
On June 18 at the Roundhouse, the Talking Stick Festival and the Queer Arts Festival join for a day of events celebrating Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer artists.
Joshua Whitehead will be at the Roundhouse at 3 pm to discuss Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction. An award-winning Oji-Cree writer of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba,Whitehead edited and compiled the stories in the collection, which showcases both emerging and established Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer talent. Joining him in a discussion about how queer Indigenous communities can thrive through utopian narratives will be authors Nathan Adler, jaye simpson, and Nazbah Tom.
Book signings and DJ performances will be part of the Cinq-à-Sept Reception at the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall from 5 to 7 pm. The Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer festivities then wrap up with a performance by Virago Nation Burlesque, featuring Indigiqueer dancers—and proud badasses.
The Summer Reverb smorgasbord doesn’t stop there, with Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires joining the Talking Stick Festival June 27 to 29 for a series of roundtable discussions on art. RE-FRAME : RE-NAME : RE-MAKE will turn the microscope on Canadian art and the way it’s been impacted by everything from social justice movements to new funding models. Topics will include the way that IBPoC artists learn from, and influence each other to important lessons for mainstream organizations.
And yes, there’s more, including the Talking Stick Festival Summer Reverb Gala at SFU Woodward’s on June 9.
Check out the full calendar of Summer Reverb events here.
For full information on Summer Reverb, which celebrates the Talking Stick Festival’s 22nd anniversary, go here.