Buffy Sainte-Marie, inaugural Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week and more at The Drum is Calling Festival

Buffy Sainte-Marie opens the Drum is Calling Festival (July 22-30). Christie Goodwin photo.

The Drum is Calling Festival is a nine-day celebration of arts and culture, with a First Nations theme.

The City’s Canada 150+ anchor event, the arts and culture festival represents a partnership between the City of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland’s Host Nations. Events are daily from 1 – 10 p.m. and include concerts, workshops, plays, readings, a walking tour and more.

The July 22-30 festival takes place at various locations in downtown Vancouver, including Larwill Park, the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse Theatre and Vancouver Public Library.

Events are free, although some indoor venues may require advance registration. See some festival highlights below.

Buffy Sainte-Marie—The iconic singer/songwriter opens the festival with a concert Sat. July 22. Sainte-Marie’s most recent album was 2015’s Power in the Blood, but she had her first hit “Universal Soldier” in 1964. The July 22 bill also includes Bitterly Divine and Murray Porter.

Tanya Tagaq—The Inuk throat singer currently experiencing international acclaim based on her latest album, Retribution. She performs July 24 along with Amanda Rheaume and Susan Aglukark.

Performance poet Shane Koyczan performs with Short Story Long at the festival.

Kinnie Starr—Starr has been blending pop and hip-hop since launching her music career in Vancouver in 1992. The talented performer and recording artist recently added “documentary film producer” to her list of accomplishments. She performs Sat. July 29 with George Leach and PowWowStep creator DJ Shub.

Shane Koyczan and The Short Story Long—Award-winning spoken-word performer Shane Koyczan—best known for his anti-bullying poem “To This Day,” which has over 20 million views on Youtube—and his group help wind up the fest Sunday July 30. Leonard Sumner and Leela Gilday also perform.

Tomson Highway—The Canadian novelist and playwright Highway (Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing) and other idigenous writers share stories. The July 28 event marks the launch of Highway’s From Oral to Written: A Celebration of Native Canadian Literature, 1980 – 2010, a new book published by Vancouver’s Talonbooks.

Additional festival highlights include a walking tour, short films from the National Film Board, and the inaugural Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week. The latter is the brainchild of former international model Joleen Mitton.

First Nations former model Joleen Mitton has put together the inaugural Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week July 26-29 (6 p.m. in the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 650 Hamilton Street).

There’s more, including Theatre for Young People, carving and weaving workshops, play readings, curated short films by the National Film Board, an installation about current issues called While Having Soup, cooking demos and, of course, drums—lots and lots of drums, including a night of intercultural drumming led by renowned percussionist and cultural collaborator Sal Ferraras.

For more info on Drum is Calling visit canada150plus.ca.

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