Slam poetry. Independent films. Original theatre and dance. And one powwow to remember.
The best of aboriginal art and culture is coming to Vancouver this Feb. 18-Feb. 28 as part of the 2016 Talking Stick Festival. Staged at venues throughout the city, from night clubs to community centres, the festival puts the spotlight on emerging and established indigenous artists.
For anyone seeking perspective on contemporary aboriginal culture in Vancouver and beyond, Talking Stick is a rare window into a world of rich history and cutting-edge art. Here are five can’t-miss events this year:
Reel Reservations, an indigenous film series: Some of the brightest stars in the indigenous filmmaking community are showing off some wildly creative works in this three-night mini film festival. Check out an anthology of short films by Canadian indigenous women, a docu-drama on life and death on the reservation and more. Feb. 25 at Vancity Theatre; Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 at Vancity Culture Lab at The Cultch; pay what you can donation
Battle of the Birds, a fable of domestic violence: Based on a traditional Nlakap’amux story, this play is set in the mythical time before time, when animals spoke and acted like humans. In this parable, Bald Eagle is abusive to his wife Golden Eagle. But Bird Nation stands up for her rights. Feb. 19-Feb. 20 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre; tickets start at $17
A celebration of powwow culture: This indoor powwow in Yaletown is consistently one of the festival’s most popular events. A great family activity, it features both traditional and contemporary dancers performing in elaborate regalia – a unique glimpse into the energy and beauty of the powwow experience. There are interactive dances, as well as an aboriginal artisan fair with crafts and food. Feb. 21 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre; free
Intimate musical coffee house series: A chance to hear the latest in indigenous music live and up-close, this series features some of the best emerging musicians, DJs and vocalists. Pull up a chair and enjoy these inspired and eclectic offerings, staged inside the funky Zawa Restaurant on Commercial Drive. Feb. 22-Feb. 24 and Feb. 27 at Zawa Restaurant; pay what you can donation
Slam poetry with a twist: Dubbed From Talking Stick to Microphone, this event features some of the country’s best indigenous slam poets going head to head. A perennial favourite, it’s staged this year in memory of “East Van ghetto poet” Zaccheus Jackson, known as Blackfoot. Feb. 26 at Cafe Deux Soleil; pay what you can donation
For the full lineup of events for the 2016 Talking Stick Festival, check out the official website.