Indigenous culture at the First Peoples' Festival

Marisela Amador

Marisela Amador is a reporter who works in the Kanien’kehá:ka community of Kahnawà:ke. When she’s not reporting the news, she is out and about in her favourite city in the world, Montréal. Of Latin-American descent, she enjoys good food and drinks, art and culture and spending time with friends.

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The 31st edition of the International First Peoples Festival will kick off on August 3 with an array of Indigenous performers from across Canada and a slew of local and international films. 

This year, the festival’s theme is “Joy taken from the night,” and much of its programming proposes a deep dive into Indigenous cultures from Canada and across the world.  

Director and co-founder André Dudemaine, who is Innu from Abitibi-Témiscamingue, said that the theme was chosen in light of the recent discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across the country.  

“Some people think that we can’t have an entertaining and exciting festival because of what has been uncovered, but this is not new to us,” said Dudemaine.  

This edition of the festival will include concerts, visual arts, various theatrical events and even a book launch that highlight the different traditions of Indigenous communities and will delight attendees.  

“It is a heavy history that we have been carrying, and to survive it, we need to have humour, poetry and creativity. Despite all the loss and trauma, Indigenous peoples are still here. We can find healing through art and culture and find a better future for our generations to come,” he said.  

Concerts 

Festivalgoers will be able to enjoy five memorable evenings of performances on the Quebecor stage at the Place des Festivals, which will be decked out in the colours of First Nations.  

“There’s a variety of experiences and connections to Indigenous cultures in the festival. In that sense, we continue to follow the traditional thinking of the spirit of the circle, which says that every element of the circle is important and has its place,” said Dudemaine.  

On August 4, starting at 8 p.m., Transmission, a show that promises to defy expectations, will explore fragmented universes and the sounds of contemporary native pop, rap, soul and folk and contemporary classical.     

Some of the performers include Oji-Cree multi-disciplinary artist Anachnid who won the SOCAN Foundation Indigenous songwriter of the year award in 2019, and rap artist Q-052, who will be presenting his new album, which addresses ongoing issues that Indigenous communities face across Turtle Island (North America). There will also be a daring collaborative experiment between the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and Forestares that will no doubt knock a few socks off.   

Concertgoers can also look forward to the music of Samian, a member of the Abitibiwinni First Nation who will be launching his new album at the festival on August 6.  

Exhibitions 

Innu artist Sonia Robertson evokes living territories in her installation Le sang de la Mère Terre, which will be on display as of August 2 at the Guild, a historical gallery and museum that specializes in Inuit and First Nations art.  

Moreover, Atikamekw playwright Véronique Hébert will captivate audiences with her poetically theatrical performance Notcimik, là d’où vient notre sang  (Where our blood comes from) on the Quebecor stage of the Place de Festival on August 8 and 9.  

Films

Cinephiles of every kind will can also watch over 60 films from a range of prestigious film festivals circuits from around the world.   

Some of the must-sees include A Febre, where a longshoreman thinks about his lost country in Manaus, and Haudenosaunee Canoe Journey by Kanien’kehá:ka filmmaker Roxann Whitebean explores the ancient waterways of the five founding nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.  

The International First Peoples Festival will run from August 3 to 11 with a mix of indoor and outdoor events in the heart of Montréal’s downtown core. A favourite of Montrealers and tourists alike – it is an event like no other to explore the beauty of Indigenous cultures.  

The full list of events and online tickets are now available at International First Peoples Festival website.  

Marisela Amador

Marisela Amador is a reporter who works in the Kanien’kehá:ka community of Kahnawà:ke. When she’s not reporting the news, she is out and about in her favourite city in the world, Montréal. Of Latin-American descent, she enjoys good food and drinks, art and culture and spending time with friends.

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