Celebrate Canada’s First Nations

If the phrase aboriginal culture brings to mind only an image of a tranquil, pre-colonization past, think again. Canada’s First Nations continue to build a rich tapestry, combining new opportunities and old traditions to create a unique blend of past and present.

Festival brings talent together
The Canadian Aboriginal Festival, which takes place in Toronto from Nov. 24 – 26, 2006, is the largest of its kind in North America – and a celebration of the continued cultural contribution of Canada’s First Nations. Every one of all ages, races, and creeds are welcome.

Visitors can enjoy visual arts displays, traditional teachings, and workshops. Part of the mandate of the festival is to preserve old traditions as well as to create new ones.

The Aboriginal Music Awards showcase a wide variety of music styles including rap and country as well as traditional music. As a spectator it is inspirational to see the breadth and depth of talent among Canadian and North American native peoples. For musicians it is also a unique event, fostering a sense of community and providing a networking opportunity for emergingartists.

The fashion show is not only a display of intriguing design, it is also a celebration of self-esteem and leadership, as the models are graduates of Turtle Concept’s confidence and skills building workshops.

The market area showcases the work of artists and craftspeople – good news for holiday shoppers as well as collectors.

And at the Aboriginal Lacrosse Skills Competition spectators can enjoy all the action as amateur players vie for provincial titles in various aspects of the sport.

The show’s highlight is undoubtedly the 3 Grand Entries at the Pow Wow – nearly 1,000 native dancers and drum singing groups from across North America coming together on the floor of the Rogers Centre (formerly the Sky Dome). Pow Wows traditionally have been dedicated to warriors and are also a way of giving thanks to the Creator for all that Mother Earth provides.

More information about the festival is available here: http://www.canab.com/index.html

Other ways to explore
For those who can’t make the festival here are some other ways to explore this facet of Canadian society.

The Canadian Aboriginal Portal at http://www.aboriginalcanada.gc.ca/acp/site.nsf/en-frames/index.html offers a comprehensive overview of events, news, and issues of Canada’s First Nations. The Virtual Tour of Aboriginal Canada is particularly interesting, and easy to navigate.

Storytelling has always been a part of the Aboriginal tradition, to teach and to keep history alive. The Aboriginal Cultures and Traditions Storytelling website at http://cado.ayn.ca/ provides a rich collection of audio files of native storytellers from various traditions sharing their tales.

The Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (http://www.aboriginalbc.com/) provides a guide to many ways of discovering Aboriginal culture throughout the province, including native resorts and culinary adventures.

And for more tourism opportunities across the country, check out the Across Canada Tourism Directory’s Aboriginal Tourism site at http://canada.travelall.com/promos/aboriginal.htm.