Arts

Indigenous people of the world celebrated in Ottawa

Photo by Suzannah Vo

Four University of Ottawa students have launched a new cultural event meant to welcome and celebrate citizens from a wide variety of international indigenous cultures.

The inaugural International Indigenous Festival, called Mana Måori, will take place next summer and will welcome the indigenous people of New Zealand.

“Our hope is to strengthen international partnerships between indigenous cultures and peoples in Canada and the Pacific Islands, with long-term aims to connect with indigenous peoples around the world,” says co-organizer Anna Paluch, a U of O history and theory of art alumni.

Paluch and fellow organizer Edyta Dabrowska, a fifth-year history student, say they were inspired by the Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art exhibit at the National Art Gallery in 2013, which featured the works of indigenous artists across the world.

Sakahàn was a huge inspiration and we wanted to bring that same atmosphere to our own festival,” Paluch explains. “This was the first time I had seen something like this. It was such an amazing event for the international indigenous community. We were able to speak to people from all over: New Zealand, Samoa, Norway, and many more.”

Added inspiration has come from their programs at the U of O. Dabrowska says her studies in history have given her a fascination with different cultures. “I have learned so much, even just through the experience of creating the festival.”

The group’s education in history and visual art is supplemented by work outside the classroom; fellow students Shelby Lisk, an indigenous artist, and Geneviève Klyne, an Aboriginal Affairs worker, round out the foursome.

Paluch adds that they would like to include lectures and conferences on social issues “to accompany the fun.”

Current plans are for a three-day festival that’ll focus on art, music, and live performances.

Paluch says the directors are currently reaching out to the international community, and trying to form partnerships abroad.

“We have talked to people in the Canadian indigenous community and the New Zealand community and spoken to potential guests and partners; these people have voiced their support and their interest,” she says.

The directors have invited those who wish to volunteer for the festival or future fundraisers to contact them through social media.

The International Indigenous Festival will take place in summer 2015, and as their motto helpfully summarizes, will aim to celebrate and to educate.