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Nikamowin glowing with extra Indigenous music, dancing and tradition at this yr's folks fest

“Loads of the songs are like chants which have parts of prayer in them. After which we add the drum, which is sort of a heartbeat rhythm,” she says. “Which is type of what we come into this world listening to.”

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Not each Sherwood Park musician can declare to have impressed the Pope to faucet his ft on the Vatican.

However Brianna Lizotte — who’s a part of the second yr of Nikamowin programming contained in the Edmonton Folks Music Pageant — had Pope Francis shifting in his seat as she and fellow Métis fiddle participant Alex Kusturok carried out their energetic music.

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The 2 had been throughout the Métis Nationwide Council, a part of a wave of Indigenous delegations visiting the Vatican final April because the Pope apologized for the Catholic Church’s half within the grim legacy of the residential faculty system, this time on his dwelling turf.

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Every delegation had a musical element, with Lizotte (initially from Sylan Lake) a part of Alberta’s Métis delegation — which is how she and Kustorok ended up taking part in for the Pope, dealing with one another as they labored their bows and strings.

“We weren’t solely taking part in for our folks within the room and all over the world, but additionally to one another,” the 22-year-old fiddler explains.

“It was so highly effective as a result of the acoustics had been so nice in that room, and since it was like, you’re by no means going to see this within the Vatican once more — the foot stomping and fiddling and all the opposite Indigenous performances.

“Only a distinctive expertise.”

Lizotte will probably be considered one of lots of artists performing over the weekend on the folks fest’s Indigenous-culture-focused Nikamowin (nee-gah-mow-in), which is Cree for “track.”

Situated within the Household Space behind Primary Stage, Lizotte additionally performed Nikamowin final yr, this system’s 2022 debut, when that lovely tipi stationed there first improved the long-lasting August panorama seen from atop Gallagher Park Hill.

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“It was simply so cool,” she says fortunately, “as a result of Jay Gilday was there and I’m an enormous fan. So it was neat to be on a stage with him sharing songs, simply listening to the tales behind every thing from the opposite artists.

“Truthfully, I feel it’s in all probability the most effective audiences I ever performed for.”

Clickable names

Check out the EFMF’s performer record at to know simply what number of Indigenous gamers are clickable names — probably the most native and near-local faces ever on the pageant’s schedule.

Nikamowin’s organizer MJ Belcourt notes the sphere is up from a dozen or so final yr to round 20 in 2023 — together with not simply dancers and singers modern and conventional, like Juno-nomiated Cikwes and guitar shredder Curt Younger, however quite a few Elders and Information Keepers instructing crafts, language and historical past.

“Leo and Priscilla McGilvery, if you wish to go to Elders in our tipi, they’ll be round,” Belcourt explains. “And so they’ll be beginning our total program with an Elders Blessing, which is very nice.”

This can occur on Primary Stage Thursday, earlier than DakhaBrakha begins up at 6:40 p.m. “They’re hand drum singers,” provides Belcourt, “so that they’ll additionally sing a track for us.”

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Inside her intriguing programming, Belcourt highlights Saddle Lake Cree Nation Information Keeper Betty Ann Moses instructing Cree syllabics; Anna Muskego and Levi Wolfe demonstrating Indigenous video games; in addition to the brand new Métis trapper type tent and its resident Matthew Hiltermann.

“He’s a tremendous Métis sash weaver,” says Belcourt, “so he’ll be there to display and chat.”

Once more, try the Nikamowin-tagged names at for the entire roster, whereas an in depth schedule will probably be up in individual on the website.

“I find it irresistible,” Belcourt says of the rising program. “I feel it’s time that we’ve just a little extra infiltration all through, you already know?” she laughs.

“Even these proficient folks which are native and actually excited simply to have just a few songs on stage, I simply assume it’s nice for them.”

This brings us over to longtime pageant producer Terry Wickham explaining why he thought it was time to show up EFMF’s Indigenous programming.

‘Cease speaking about it. Do one thing.’

“Years in the past, once they had Idle No Extra, I believed: I get it. Cease speaking about it,” Wickham says. “Do one thing.

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“After which we did it in a extra restricted foundation final yr, and I believed, okay, I would like to position this centrally, so folks see it.”

A part of this evolution was shedding the bouncy fort, and this yr shifting the espresso store out of the best way so folks have higher entry.

“It’s like a pageant throughout the pageant,” says Wickham, who notes Nikamowin’s performers, apart from being on their very own stage, will seem in filler spots by means of the weekend. “And never at all times marked on the schedule, so there’ll be type of good surprises.

“It’s a win-win throughout,” says Wickham.

Musician Debbie Houle agrees. She’s performing in two acts: with Cree rattle-and-drum quartet Nîpisîy inside Nikamowin, and with AV & the Inside Metropolis at 12:45 p.m. Saturday on Stage 7.

“I’m very proud,” says Houle. “The entire idea of reconciliation requires that we develop relationships and get to know one another as human beings.”

That is her first time taking part in the Edmonton Folks Music Pageant, and she or he’s trying ahead to wandering round Nikamowin and perhaps studying one thing new herself.

“Oh yeah,” she laughs, “completely.”

Nipisiy art
Nipisiy is Debbie Houle, left, Cindy Paul, Donita Giant and Sherryl Sewepagaham, taking part in at Nikamowin at EFMF Aug. 10-13. Photograph by Cindy Paul /equipped

Their chanting and drumming is gorgeous, however Houle describes her frame of mind when she’s singing together with her northern songbird sisters Donita Giant, Cindy Paul and Sherryl Sewepagaham inside Nîpisîy, which implies “willow” in Cree.

“Loads of the songs are like chants which have parts of prayer in them. After which we add the drum, which is sort of a heartbeat rhythm,” she says. “Which is type of what we come into this world listening to.”

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Through the pandemic, Nîpisîy earned tens of hundreds of views on YouTube for a canopy of Grandmother Music by Leo McGilvery, who as famous is co-opening the whole pageant.

“So it’s actually about neighborhood,” says Belcourt, “which brings us all collectively, you already know? And in Nikamowin, these are simply highlights of a few of the issues that we do inside our neighborhood all through.”

This brings us again to Pope-shaker fiddler Lizotte, who’s actually simply getting began.

“Ever since I began taking part in fiddle, taking part in folks fest was considered one of my targets,” she says, “so it was a very thrilling feeling.

“However hopefully at some point I can play on the Primary Stage, or on of the phases as one of many scheduled performers,” says Lizotte. “Let’s see how far we are able to go!”

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Nikamowin at Edmonton Folks Music Pageant

When Aug. 10-13

The place Household Space behind Primary Stage

Tickets Thursday single day passes obtainable $90/grownup; be a part of Lyte Waitlist for different choices at

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