The Montreal First Peoples’ Festival is underway and for many festival-goers, it provides an opportunity to be a part of something different.
People can watch great works by First Nations filmmakers or simply enjoy the novelty.
“I love the teepees, they’re so cool,” said Minnie Matoush, who was visiting from James Bay.
For the artists that participate, it’s a chance to share a part of themselves and file down some of the prejudice surrounding their culture.
One artist named Lava does that through his sculpting, a craft he’s been working on since he was 13.
“I started that this morning,” he said after carving a bird in soapstone for over five hours.
“For so many years, who and what we were was hidden and now we’re out there and we’re out in the open,” said Sedalia Fazio, a Mohawk from Kahnawake.
Fazio’s mother, 85 year-old Rita, spends all winter crafting traditional Iroquois dolls and beaded birds to show at the festival.
For others, like Kablajuja Jmaq, a Mayan healer also known as 12 owls, it’s a chance to feel connected through tradition.
“I think the whole America – from Alaska to Chile – we’re all the same family,” Jmaq said.
On Friday, festival directors held a special ceremony.
“We will take an opportunity to give a name to the Place des Festivals, an Indian name that will be called Makushamit,” said Andre Dudemaine, the festival’s director.
Makushamit is an Innu word that means “where we gather to have fun and feast.”
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