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Wednesday, 27 July 2011 09:05

Blackfoot Arts and Heritage Festival to be held at Waterton

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By Susan Quinlan
Waterton Lakes National Park
The Blackfoot Canadian Cultural Society (BCCS) and Parks Canada present the first Blackfoot Arts and Heritage Festival August 2-4, coinciding with Waterton National Park’s 100th anniversary celebration.


“Waterton is a great place to visit any time, but the Blackfoot Arts and Heritage Festival is a great opportunity to experience the Blackfoot culture in an authentic setting,” said Locke Marshall, Waterton’s visitor experience manager.


“We’ve been trying for some time to come up with interesting ways to partner better with the local Aboriginal communities, but we were contacted by the Blackfood Canadian Cultural Society (BCCS) who asked if we’d like to work with them on this, and we jumped at the opportunity.”


The Blackfoot Arts and Heritage Festival is a tribute to Parks Canada’s 100th year in Waterton, said Mary Ann Crow Healy, executive director, BCCS.   


“For the BCCS, it’s a pilot project to provide audiences with direct access to quality Indigenous artistic experience.”


The three-day multidisciplinary arts festival will include a visual arts exhibit with an opening reception on the first day, exhibition powwows on the second and third days, and dance and storytelling performances as well, said Crow Healy.


“The arts are the very essence of our cultural existence. Art is an influential force in the representation of our cultural identities, an essential ingredient in the interpretation of our cultural past and a powerful instrument in revealing our contemporary realities.”


Crow Healy said art is one medium that keeps her culture alive.


“It is an expressive outlet to project our political views, our social circumstances, our spiritual beliefs and different aspects in our living histories. When creativity is strong; cultures and arts flourish in new ways in the literary, visual and the performing arts of today.”


Powwow music and dance are especially powerful, added Crow Healy, affirming the dancer’s cultural roots and heritage.


“…that, in my opinion, is the single most significant healing experience for Indigenous people.”


Crow Healy said they’re grateful for the opportunity to present this festival, provided by Parks Canada, Improvement District #4, Canadian Heritage and Alberta Foundation for the Arts.


“We hope to increase an appreciation for Blackfoot arts in general, as well as to inspire individuals to pursue their passions for the arts and to reinforce attributes that bring pride to Indigenous people.”


The art show will be held at the Lion’s Hall in Waterton, August 2 to 4, while the powwows will be held on the Community Centre grounds (former Waterton School) August 3 and 4; grand entry at 2 p.m. each day.


Locke said they’re hoping the festival becomes an annual event, but meanwhile they’re thrilled to have the BCCS as part of Waterton Park’s 100th anniversary celebration.

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