Summer Solstice 2014

Aboriginal arts fest and powwow offers family fun
(and a major learning opportunity)!

Did you know June is National Aboriginal History Month? Not only that, June 21 is National Aboriginal Day. Join the festivities, with your family, and take the opportunity to discover the diverse Aboriginal cultures of the National Capital Region. There’s plenty to learn and there’s quite a celebration planned for Ottawa.

Slated for June 20 to 22, the 2014 Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival and Competition Powwow is taking place at Vincent Massey Park. Highlights include free, interactive arts workshops, a musical concert series, a powwow, a southern lights evening spectacle, a fashion show and an aboriginal film festival. Besides all that there’s extensive family programming, with options to thrill even the most jaded of tweens.

Festivities begin Friday, June 20, with Education Day. Students and teachers from across Ottawa are invited to participate in cultural workshops and last year over 3,700 students attended. Through the day this year, youngsters can take part in traditional games, tour cultural pavilions, watch an original play and enjoy a lunchtime concert series.

Through the rest of the festival, all ages can discover the rich and evolving culture of the Algonquin Nations. You’ll see wigwam displays, photo exhibits and interactive demonstrations of birch bark canoe building, as well as basket and drum-making by both elders and youth.  At the Aboriginal artisan village, you can check out the artwork of Algonquin, Métis and Inuit artists, as well as workshops and demonstrations.

Hmmm …. Buffalo burgers or Indian tacos?

“I’ll have both, please!”

New to the festival this year is a southern lights spectacle on National Aboriginal Day, June 21. A spectacular sound and light show, it will feature Aboriginal music, dance and pyrotechnics. And stay put for the fire hoop dance; it’ll be the first of it’s kind in Canada.

Now in its fourth year, the dazzling international competition powwow attracts hundreds of singers and dancers from across Canada to compete for $65,000 in prizes. Right through the weekend you can watch dancers and singers of all ages, from tiny tots to grandparents, who will carry on the traditions of their ancestors with spectacular color and movement.

If the kids want to blow off some steam, pony rides, stilt walkers, Métis games and a giant bungee trampoline are just a few of the attractions in the fun zone. And once you work up an appetite, educate your taste buds by sampling the Aboriginal fare on site. How about some buffalo, wild rice or pickerel? When it’s snack time, don’t miss the chance to chow down on a powwow tradition: Indian tacos.

To register your school for Education Day, Contact registrations@aboriginalexperiences.com or call 613 564-9494 ext 106. For details about attending the fest, see nadottawa.wordpress.com.

Where:  Vincent Massey Park

When: Fri., June 20, 5-10 p.m., Sat.-Sun., June 21-22, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Details: ottawasummersolstice.com

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