A Celebration of Indigenous Culture Across the Continent
The virtual format of the Kana Wain Dida International Gathering brought with it many challenges and opportunities. Co-hosts of its Cultural Celebration, Valene Bill and Evan Chamakese, took it as a chance to unite Indigenous performers, sharing their skills, talents, and wisdom on an international stage.
The hour of song and dance was a unique opportunity to experience the beauty and diversity of Indigenous culture across North America. David Serkoak, a drum-maker originally from Nunavut, shared an Inuit drum dance in the style that he was taught; the same style in which he teaches his children and grandchildren. Lawrence Roy Jr., from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, performed a hoop dance that combined two dance styles into a captivating thirty-hoop performance. Tristen Durocher, a Métis musician and activist from Buffalo Narrows First Nation, played a tune on his fiddle accompanied by Trey Southerland on guitar. The Ukwehuwe Connection joined from the Oneida Nation to perform a traditional smoke dance. Renowned singer Fawn Wood shared a round dance song, and even co-host Evan Chamakese shared his talent, wishing the Edmonton Oilers luck in the playoffs with a song by Rocky Morin of the Blackstone Singers. Lastly, the Powwow Dance Group ended the evening with dances from five of its members.
Evan enjoyed co-hosting the event and was excited by the talent it featured. “The performers that were actually a part of it,” he commented, “if you’re familiar with the Powwow scene, these are some of the top dancers in their respective categories.” He added that all performers did an amazing job. The Kana Wain Dida conference made for a busy week, but the Cultural Celebration was “one of the highlights for [him], just being able to hear and see the culture.”
Aside from acting as the other co-host, Valene played a huge part in finding and inviting performers to the event. She says that she received many comments from the singers and dancers who found the event to be a positive experience, as well. “They were really happy that they were able to perform because over COVID, they haven’t been performing for people. So they were really happy to get back into their regalia and dance and sing.”
If you missed the Cultural Celebration, it will soon be available to watch here on our website (covid19indigenous.ca). We encourage you to check it out and experience the beauty of Indigenous culture across North America firsthand.