Cul­ture takes cen­tre stage at Arts In Mo­tion Chau­tauqua

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - News­room@jour­ BY DE­SIREE ANSTEY

Crafts, en­ter­tain­ment take cen­tre stage at Arts In Mo­tion Chau­tauqua Fes­ti­val in Sum­mer­side

A dancer closes his eyes and rhyth­mi­cally shifts his feet to the beat of a pound­ing drum.

The Mi’kmaq Artists of Len­nox Is­land call it the, “Wind Song.” They sing, quiet at first but pick­ing up the pace, then soft and out of breath.

“There’s no end to it, so it’s like the wind,” ex­plained Julie Pel­lissier-Lush, one of the singers. “It’s an his­toric song.” The thump of a big drum ac­com­pa­nies the chant, and it vi­brates through the hands, arms and chest.

“Usu­ally, the men are drum­ming be­cause women have a close grounded na­ture to Mother Earth – they give birth, they have their Moon Time, we call it, and men don’t have that con­nec­tion,” said Talon Si­mon, from Moncton N.B., one of the Mi’kmaq dancers dressed as an ea­gle.

The pound­ing of the drum is sa­cred be­cause it rep­re­sents the heart beat­ing.

“Men beat closed drums be­cause the power re­mains in­side, whereas women can beat open drums like snares, so the power can run through,” Si­mon added.

“I be­lieve a Cree grand­mother brought the drum from the West to the Mi’kmaq peo­ple across Canada, and the Turtle Is­land. He con­tin­ued, “And there was great peace be­tween the two peo­ple, so even­tu­ally we in­cor­po­rated the musical in­stru­ment into our cul­ture.”

Songs per­formed by the artists in­cluded the Cir­cle of Life, a chant given from an el­der in Cape Breton and tran­scribed in 1610, as well as chants that had dancers mimic an­i­mals and swoop like ea­gles, and courtship dancers.

Mar­lene Camp­bell, the cul­tural pro­gram­ming co­or­di­na­tor of Wy­att Her­itage Prop­er­ties Inc. said it’s been the best year for the event.

“The first three days con­sisted of be­ing down on Wa­ter Street (Mon­day, Tues­day and Wed­nes­day) where we had our artist stands and of­fi­cials per­form­ing from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30p.m., while in­ter­act­ing with the pub­lic and talk­ing about their work. It’s been probably the best year ever for that.”

Camp­bell said, “And the next three days of the Chau­tauqua as­pect of the fes­ti­val, we moved to our own grounds at Wy­att Her­itage Prop­er­ties Inc. And each of those three days it’s been none-stop en­ter­tain­ment.”

The fes­ti­val was spear­headed by the 150th an­niver­sary of the two his­toric Wy­att Her­itage Prop­er­ties, on the cor­ner of Granville and Prince Streets. The Le­furgey Cul­tural Cen­tre and the Wy­att his­toric house were both con­structed in 1867.

The cul­tural cel­e­bra­tion in­cluded 12 fea­tured artists demon­strat­ing their craft, as well as musical en­ter­tain­ment through­out Saturday.

“It’s our fourth year of do­ing Chau­tauqua, so Sum­mer­side can ex­pe­ri­ence for free or very low cost the best in our cul­ture,” con­cluded Camp­bell.

The fes­ti­val is kindly funded by the Depart­ment of Cana­dian Her­itage, the gov­ern­ment of P.E.I., the City of Sum­mer­side, At­lantic Lot­tery, La Belle Al­liance, and the Jour­nal Pi­o­neer.


Stéphanie Bélanger, an aerial silk ac­ro­bat from the Car­naval en Prom­e­nade, per­forms in­cred­i­ble stunts that leave the au­di­ence breath­less.


Julie Pel­lissier-Lush, from Len­nox Is­land, per­forms a tra­di­tional Mi’kmaq dance while swoop­ing and mim­ick­ing an ea­gle.


Lynne Provance weaves beau­ti­ful bas­kets. “My Girl Scout troop taught us how to make th­ese around five or six years ago,” she said. Provance limits the colours of her bas­kets to red, rep­re­sent­ing the fauna, and green to rep­re­sent the flora around us. She also cre­ates orig­i­nal stain glass win­dows, quilt­ing, and jew­elry.


Talon Si­mon, from Moncton N.B., per­forms the Mi’kmaq Wind Dance at the Arts In Mo­tion Chau­tauqua fes­ti­val in Sum­mer­side.

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