Leading Coast Salish artists, a special concert by Blue Moon Marquee and the screening of an almost-forgotten film about Cowichan sweaters forms just part of the lineup June 19-21 for the Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend.
Planning for the event started in February, according to Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society’s Mark Kiemele, when few knew just what pandemic rules would be like when National Indigenous Day rolled around on the summer equinox June 21.
“No one had a clue about what COVID would have in store for us this summer,” said organizer Connie Crocker. “Waterwheel Park is usually where we gather, but we made a decision to have it all online. Except for a bit of bannock,” she added with a smile.
Crocker is a CVCAS board member which is hosting the all-online weekend with support from the BC Arts Council and the provincial government.
“We began by talking to the communities: Penelakut, Halalt, Lyackson and Stz’uminus,” she noted. “I’m very proud that we have arranged for meals for elders in our nations.”
The online weekend at cipw.ca includes interviews with Coast Salish artists Maynard Johnny Jr. and Luke Marston. There will also be concerts by Blue Moon Marquee and Stz’uminus singer/songwriter Nate Harris.
There will be a rare showing of The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters from the National Film Board. It tells the story of unsung heroines, the resourceful women who knit to put food on the table and keep their families alive.
As for the bannock, Crocker said it is tradition to offer food during celebrations.
“There will be 150 delicious bannock and jams available at the Salish Sea Market, absolutely free to anyone. It’s all from Cree’ation Farm in Chemainus.”
She said there is a lively Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend page on Facebook with lots of historical stories and photos honouring the Coast Salish people and culture.