An­other suc­cess­ful Wag­mat­cook Fes­ti­val

The Victoria Standard - - Arts - JEN­NIFER RI­P­LEY

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.

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