Courtesy Land InSights
The colorful teepees brighten up the Place des Festival in Montreal each summer at the First Peoples Festival, which this year runs from July 29 through August 5.

Algonquin Rap, Indie Films Will Reign at Montreal First Peoples Festival

Gale Courey Toensing

Place des Festival, an open space in downtown Montreal dedicated to special cultural events, will soon be filled with people celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ art, history, cultures and traditions at the annual First Peoples Festival.

The First Peoples Festival will take place July 30–August 5 in and around the city-block-sized Place des Festivals and at other locations throughout Montreal and across the St. Lawrence River at Kahnwake, Mohawk territory. Now in its 24th year, the festival has grown and matured into a unique international cultural event. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world.

This year’s festival is packed with things to see, hear, dance to and taste, including a concert launching a new album by rapper Samian, who raps in French and Algonquin; an unparalleled international aboriginal film and video competition juried by a panel chaired by actor Sebastien Ricard; street theater, exhibits, a conference, gastronomy, kino-visual happenings and a parade.

Related: Cook Your Own Street Food: Roasting Elk Sausage at the Montreal First Peoples Festival

The festival is organized and hosted by Terres en vues /Land Insights, an award-winning nonprofit organization formed in 1990 “to build a bridge between nations,” according to its website. It’s led by André Dudemaine, a founding member along with Daniel Corvec and Pierre Thibeault, and guided by an 11-member board with members from the Mohawk, Huron-Wendat, Abenaki, Innu and Cree nations.

Dudemaine, Innu, has made a name for himself as a producer and cultural facilitator. He took part in founding the Abitibi Témiscamingue International Film Festival. Since the founding of Land InSights he has worked as cultural activities director and was for a time editor-in-chief of the journal Terres en vues.

This year’s festival “radiates vitality,” Dudemaine said, peppered with “bursts of laughter and anger, things dazzling insights and songs, a filmography that is making its way and singular outlooks from many deeply-rooted nations. The impetuosity of youth feeds the fires of our 2014 program.”

Rapper Samian is returning to the festival “in force, and his luminous lyrics sum up the 2014 festival theme: A joyous anger,” Dudemaine said on the festival’s website.

Shauit, who has toured with Samian, is a singer-songwriter and composer from the Native community of Maliotenam in northern Quebec. He sings in French, English and his Native Innu language, and will perform at Club Soda, a music venue in downtown Montreal.

“Shauit delivers a mature, honest and committed form of dancehall reggae with songs that speak of love, hope, respect, peace and the environment,” Dudemaine said.

The “utterly hallucinatory group” Acid Arab and award-winning viola virtuoso Cris Derksen—the latter performing a duet with DJ Shub from A Tribe called Red—will be on stage for an electro-dynamite show.

Beatrice Deer, an Inuk singer from Quaqtaq, Quebec, and Sinuupa, an Inuit singer-songwriter, will also perform.


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