Event: 2015 Wagmatcook Aboriginal Arts & Culture Festival
Thu, Oct 13, 2016 to Mon, Oct 17, 2016
The Wagmatcook Aboriginal Arts & Culture Festival has been a huge success since first opening its doors to the viewing public in 2011. The overall quality of art work and the presentation of the exhibit setup has been very well received by many different schools that bring their students from various grade levels as well as the individuals, guests and visitors from local communities to the tourists from other countries that have participated in our festival each year.
This annual festival allows our organization to help support current and emerging Aboriginal artists as they continue to produce quality visual art year after year. Over 1200 guests attended our very successful festival in 2014 with many different Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal schools sending their classes to view the many wonderful works of art.
Many of our Aboriginal artists are Mi'kmaw & Maliseet, two local First Nation tribes in the Atlantic Region. Over the past 4 years they have contributed their work to the festival generating a very successful and mutually beneficial 'partnership' with us. Their work is seen by many different ranges of audiences and we continue to maintain a high level of offering to the public. Recently we have expanded our "Art Festival" in the past two years to include more of our traditional arts and culture. Beautiful work performed through delicate beadwork, quill and leather work and basketry is also displayed at our festival, usually the crowd favorite! In 2013 & 2014 we also began to host our "Mi'kmaw Celebration Day" where we bring together knowledgeable traditional artists that take turns presenting information on dancing, drumming, traditional stories, hunting/fishing, history, basket making, traditional medicines and more in a rotational station setup that groups participate in based on a time structure of 45 minutes per table. What a way to learn about our culture & heritage in a day!
New in 2015 we will be honoring the late Rita Joe, the most accomplished and recognized Mi'kmaw poet through the "Legacy of Rita Joe Project". This project will see a number of professional artists in music, art, video and dance come together to develop a one day event that will showcase her work in poetry and expressed the many different forms of visual art, music and dance. This should be a fabulous "can't miss" event. We also host a very educational traditional Mi'kmaw Lecture Series during our event where we select a very respected Elder to come in and share their knowledge of our culture and heritage. Last year's speaker Mr. Daniel Paul from Membertou presented to over 300 people on the traditional lifestyles of the Mi'kmaw people. His knowledge of the traditional ways of the Mi'kmaw, the treaties and governance structures and the examples of the old hunting and fishing practices wowed the audience. His traditional regalia also showed many young students from non-Aboriginal schools the realness of hides and skins from traditional animals like the fox, beaver, deer, moose and the bear. They were all so riveted in their seats!
One of our very important partners each year has been the Celtic Colors International Festival. From the start of our festival in 2011, they have assisted our organization by helping to promote it through their brochures and online marketing and we are always very happy with the support we receive from the management and staff of this wonderful organization. Many of our visual and performing artists that had their work presented at the festival also attended in person and were overwhelmed with the reception of their work, the event itself and the interest of the people that genuinely appreciated their work.
We also support the development of our youth through art & poetry showcases as well as theatre workshops that are part of the event. Local youth submit recent art work and poetry to a panel of judges. Prizes are given out and it is another great opportunity to promote Aboriginal art and to give the artists a chance to meet these young students. We also provide an opportunity for our youth to perform music on stage to our audiences by hosting the "Mi'kmaw Got Talent Show", usually our festival closer on the last evening. This event has grown from 14 performers in 2013 to 19 performers in 2014 and we anticipate more in 2015 as we will be having a specific traditional performances category for drummers and dancers, so this should draw even more to our already growing list of performing musical artists. Last year our crowd of over 200 people really enjoyed this event that ranged from traditional songs to mainstream rock and rap artists jamming it out as well.
Our event is usually also held during Mi'kmaw History Month in Nova Scotia, which is in the month of October. This year in 2015 our festival dates will start on Tuesday, October 13th and will run until Saturday, October 17th. All of our events are free of charge (as we typically apply for government and local fundraisers to help with these costs) and open for people of all ages and backgrounds. The more we share our culture and heritage through the arts, music, dance, crafts, spoken word and other video and personal presentations, the more we learn about each other.
We hope to see you there! For more information, please visit our website at www.wagmatcookcentre.com .