First up, renowned Inuk lawyer and activist Aaju Peter will be on hand to open the festival on August 8th at the Montréal premiere of Twice Colonized a powerful feature film by Danish director Lin Alluna that recounts Peter’s life as a woman and as a defender of the Inuit people.
Illustrious māori author Witi Ihimaera will be the festival’s guest of honour this year. Ihimaera – who many consider New Zealand’s greatest living writer, will be present during the screening of five films based on his work, including the famous Whale Rider, which festivalgoers can watch outdoors at Cabot Square on Monday, August 7. Ihimaera’s visit will culminate in a literary evening at the McCord Museum on August 11th.
And in keeping with the theme of militancy, Kanien'kehá:ka activist from Kanesatake Ellen Gabriel will present her short film Kanatenhs – When The Pine Needles Fall, which recounts the events that occurred on July 11, 1990, when police raided a barricade in the Mohawk community of Kanesatake and sparked a 78-day standoff that is now known as the Oka Crisis.
The festival’s closing film will be an advance but unfinished version of director Gwendolen Cates’ The Doctrine, which tells the story of the infamous Doctrine of Discovery, a set of colonial-era principles that were used to legitimize the seizure of Indigenous lands by colonial powers.
On August 9th, Métis singer and multidisciplinary artist Moe Clark and Māori Takatāpui dancer and choreographer Victoria Hunt – the Weather Beings – will dazzle with a performance at the Place de Festivals that explores the intersection of Métis & Māori cosmology and Indigenous futurism.
On August 10th, Soleil Launière, originally from Mashteuiatsh, will delight with soulful renditions that examine themes of language, identity, femininity and matriarchy. Her debut album is an intriguing and gripping new roots-soul project that will be released in October. For those who enjoy the combination of song, movement and theatre – Launière’s performance is a must-see.
On August 11th, Supaman will bring the house down with a show that combines Indigenous culture, comedy and urban hip hop. A member of the “Apsaalooke Nation,” Supaman is a Native American dancer and hip-hop artist that has captivated audiences with his music which carries a message of hope, pride and resilience.
On the same night, Joseph Sarenhes, a young artist of Guinean and Indigenous origin (Huron-Wendat Nation) from Quebec City, will bring a mix of hip-hop, rock and R&B and a dash of traditional Afro-Native elements that will have everybody dancing the night away.
The Nuestroamericana Friendship Show will also take place at the Place de Festivals stage on August 12. The presentation has been described as a “fraternal and festive” gathering of Montreal’s diversity and First Nations.
Additionally, on August 14, a new show entitled Femmes puissantes (Powerful Women) will showcase Indigenous cultures through ceremonies combining songs, tales, dances, and costumes, among many other exciting elements.
Exhibits and activities
Art lovers will also get their fill at the festival this year with a variety of exhibits from well-known Indigenous visual artists like Mohawk photographer Martin Loft whose large format photos will adorn Saint-Catherine Street.
As part of the festival, a new exhibit by Mi’kmaw artist, musician, filmmaker and book illustrator Allan Syliboy opened at La Guilde on July 20th. “There are Spirits in the Forest” spotlights Syliboy’s own artistic vocabulary created from the Indigenous Mi’kmaq petroglyph tradition. The exhibit explores themes of family, spirituality, struggle and strength, and the artist uses the layering of symbols and mark-making to create depth and texture in his works.
From August 9th to 14th, chef Jacques T. Watso, Abenakis of Odanak, will be giving cooking classes that will delight foodies and introduce the uninitiated to Indigenous culinary cuisine. The menu will feature a special soup called La Sagamité Watso, which is a traditional family recipe from the Watso clan. Chef Watso is the owner of Sagamité Watso and Café Masko in Odanak.