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Saturday, 05 August 2017 07:00

Blackfoot Arts and Heritage Festival will sound through Waterton this August

Written by  Demi Knight
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Drums will sound, teepees will rise and people will dance the night away to cultural contemporary music as the Blackfoot Arts and Heritage Festival returns for its seventh appearance this August in Waterton.


With events that pay homage to the Indigenous community, people from across the country are able to come together and learn about the culture that the Blackfoot community richly has to offer.
Christy Gustavison, product development officer of Parks Canada at Waterton Lakes National Park, says this festival is a great way to get involved with the Indigenous cultures.
“This festival is a great way for people to discover Indigenous traditions and customs. I think this is an excellent opportunity for Canadians to create a personal connection with the Indigenous culture that’s showcased at this festival and a great way to strengthen personal beliefs.”
The Blackfoot arts and Heritage Festival, which saw its first event in 2011, has grown over the years to attract larger crowds and incorporate more events. This summer in their 7th annual festival set for Aug. 8-10, organizers have worked in some new activities for the public to enjoy such as a documentary screening and the presence of cultural ambassadors.
Gustavison says this year the festival will showcase a special documentary that delves into the past of two very different people and their shared history.
“We’re doing a couple of new things, one is that we’re going to be screening the documentary Elder in the Making, which is about a Blackfoot Aboriginal and a Chinese newcomer rediscovering their shared heritage and their journey of reconciliation.”
However, many of the previous year’s favourites will be returning such as the traditional Blackfoot art display which will be available both on Tuesday and Thursday, as well as the Waterton powwow which allows participants to witness an authentic powwow as the music dances through the night on Wednesday evening.
The three-day event also boasts activities such as traditional games and a children’s corner, story telling and teepee raising all while indulging in authentic Blackfoot cuisines.
The Blackfoot and Arts Heritage Festival is not only a showcase of the Indigenous culture within Canada, but also a great place for people to come together and learn about new cultures and make lasting friendships while enjoying three days of educational entertainment.
Last year the event saw around 500 people over its three days attending at least one event. Whether it be from the surrounding community or visitors passing through the area, last year was an all-time high attendance and the festival only hopes to keep growing throughout the years.
Gustavison, who has been involved with the festival since its first appearance in 2011 says these days have many fascinating aspects to offer that she falls in love with each year.
“My favourite part is always the colour and the sounds of the event.
The sounds of the drums echoing over the mountains, and the colour of the dancer’s outfits; the way the teepees contrast with the scenery.”
The annual festival will take place this year at Waterton Lakes National Park on Aug. 8-10. For more information on the festival and a look at this year’s schedule you can visit their website at: www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/waterton/ne/ne2.aspx.

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