Another successful Wagmatcook Festival
The Wagmatcook Arts and Culture Festival is a feast for the eyes and the soul, as presenters and participants alike celebrate the culture and traditions of the Wagmatcook First Nation. A four-day community and cultural event hosted by the Wagmatcook First Nation and held in association with Celtic Colours, this year’s festival ran from October 11-14 at the Wagmatcook Culture and Heritvage Centre.
The festival opened on Tuesday with a ceremony that featured works of art, cultural performances and demonstrations from knowledge keepers. On Thursday, many students were present including grades 7, 8 and 9 from Wagmatcookewey School, and grades 4 and 5 from Baddeck Academy. Students spent time moving among demonstration stations that showed traditional and cultural skills such as basket making and beading. The sound of drumming echoed down the halls as participants took in the paintings of featured artist Tracey M. Barnaby, a Mi'kmaq artist from Quebec and watched as she replicated her work entitled "Spirit Bear".
Two of the demonstrators, Mary and Charles Pierro, had their respective stations; Mary has been beading all her life and samples of her colourful and detailed work were spread over the table. The students were fascinated by the regalia at Charles' table, including the eagle staff, eagle hat, pouches and breast plate. Mr. Pierro shared some of his story - how at age five he was sent to the Shubenacadie Residential School and stayed there until age 12. When he returned to his community he knew nothing of the Mi’kmaq language and traditions. He speaks gratefully of his father who taught him the language one word at a time, one day at a time. Charles also acknowledges the guidance that James Julian provided, teaching cultural practices such as smudging and pipe ceremonies, not only to him, but to many in the community. Now, Charles is sharing his knowledge with others so that the passing on of traditional practices can continue.
The Wagmatcook Culture and Heritage Centre showcases local crafters throughout the year and many handmade items can be purchased at their gift shop. To find out more, please visit wagmatcookcentre.com.
Tracey M. Barnaby, a Mi'kmaq artist from Quebec (seated) replicates one of her works entitled "Spirit Bear" as students from the Wagmatcookewey School look on. Photo by Jennifer Ripley / The Victoria Standard.