Experience Indigenous Culture at the Summer Solstice Festival

Summer is in full swing, and with the nice weather comes a litany of premier festivals, including The Summer Solstice Festival, where you can experience Indigenous culture in an exciting festival atmosphere.

The Summer Solstice Festival will showcase Indigenous traditions, heritage, cuisine, and music, but the most exciting part is the event is entirely free to attend.

Canada’s only Indigenous Agri-tourism destination and working farm, Madahòkì Farm on Ottawa’s green belt, is hosting the event from June 21st to 25th.

The festival will kick off on Wednesday, June 21st, Indigenous People’s Day, with a full afternoon of musical and ceremonial performances starting with Metis Dancer Brad Lafortune, continuing with Inuit throat singers, followed by Indigenous Experiences own Pow-wow dancers and a traditional pipe ceremony. If you can’t make the 3:15 p.m. performances, don’t sweat; the performers will return to the stage at 6:15 p.m.

The opening day will also feature an off-site First Nations fashion show from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on York Street. These shows also coincide with National Indigenous History Month activities, including a Friday, June 23rd night market on York Street in the ByWard Market.

Back at Madahòkì Farm, there will be plenty to do between live performances, from Indigenous cooking classes to arts and crafts workshops, community mural painting, Metis fish scale artistry, and even Metis games for kids. For the rowdier thrill-seeking, a mechanical bull will also be on site.

Majestic-looking Obijwe spirit horses, a breed developed by First Nations People in Canada, will be on display for kids and adults alike to meet. Madahòkì farm has several of these majestic creatures that Aboriginal elders say have lived in harmony with First Nations for as long as man has existed. The spirit horse is smaller and with different features like an extra nose flap. The species almost went extinct 50 years ago; currently, only 180 are registered globally.

Starting Saturday at 10 a.m., there will also be a litany of performances, including world champion hoop dancer Scott Sinquah, the musical group Prairie Fire performing traditional Metis jigs, and Inuit games taking place on the stage. The day of activities will wind down with the film A New Beginning screening at 9 p.m.

Sunday will include repeats of many of the previous days’ performances with the addition of Ottawa’s own Amanda Rheaume. Rheaume is an acclaimed folk singer who won the Canadian Folk Music Award for Aboriginal Artist of the Year in 2014.

The Summer Solstice Festival provides an excellent opportunity for residents of Ottawa who live on the land of the Anishinaabe to learn about Canada’s diverse First Nations culture.

Admission to the festival is free. There is no parking at the festival, but during the weekend, a free shuttle will be running every 30 minutes from Algonquin College (Lot 16, 17 or Visitor’s Parking Lot) to the festival grounds. Click here for more information about transportation options and parking.

For more information, visit summersolsticefestivals.ca

Photo: Lighchasers