Now into its 19th year, the annual Talking Stick Festival is a celebration of Indigenous artistry. With its mix of theatrical performances, music, dance, film, art exhibit and more, it literally has something for everyone.
This year’s festival theme is Chén̓chenstway, a Squamish word that translates as “upholding each other, lifting each other up”. It is an appropriate one for a festival that welcomes local, national and international Indigenous artists over its twelve days.
From the world of dance comes Tlakentli Dance-Theatre from Québec’s Productions Ondinnok which tells the story of two Indigenous artists from Mexico as they share their quest for identity by drawing on their cultures and the history of their ancestors.
In Matriarchs Uprising 1 & 2 curator Olivia Davies of O.Dela Arts presents a celebration of contemporary dance by Indigenous women including dancers from Australia, the United States, and Canada.
“Matriarchs Uprising brings together Indigenous women who are nurturing the art of contemporary dance so that it may be appreciated by audiences from all backgrounds,” says Davies. “As we witness Indigenous people around the world rise up to confront colonial power structures, I am inspired by these women who use their artistry to hold space for past, present and future in artistic presentations.”
From Axis Theatre comes the all-ages production of Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish, Joseph Dandurand’s tale from the Kwantlen First Nations Village of Squa’lets about Th’owxiya, an old and powerful spirit.
On the music front, the JUNO-winning global blues of Digging Roots will share the stage with singer-songwriter Logan Staats, and the pan-American sounds of Quique Escamilla in a triple-bill. The festival will also feature two performances from folk and women’s music icon, Ferron.
Among the other offerings at this year’s festival are a slam poetry night, Indigenous drag, theatrical readings and traditional drum groups, and much more. The festival will also offer workshops, panels and sessions.
The 19th annual Talking Stick Festival continues at various locations around Vancouver until February 29. Visit talkingstickfest.ca for tickets and information.