The Animikii Festival was deemed a success by organizers of the four-day event, which took place from Oct. 13-16 in Thunder Bay.
“It went very good, especially for a first-time event,” said David Wilkinson-Simard, communication coordinator for the Animkii Festival.
The Thunder Bay Aboriginal Arts and Heritage Group organized the festival, which grew from years prior. It was previously known as the Fall Feast and Gathering of Services and was a one-day event, something the local Aboriginal community felt wasn’t enough, said Wilkinson-Simard.
“In things like Aboriginal Day or (the Fall Feast), which is only one day, people felt there wasn’t enough time for everything like music workshops,” he said. “By adding the extra days, it gives us the ability to showcase more of what we have to offer (in media and arts).”
The first day of the festival featured an arts and crafts market and exhibits by local service organizations that “showcases what services are available to the Aboriginal community,” Wilkinson-Simard said. This was followed by a community feast and powwow in the evening.
The second day focused on multi-arts and entertainment, with workshops on music-writing, urban art, photography, filming, hoop dancing, and fashion modeling, which were conducted by local talent such as Shy-Anne Horvoka, Jade Willoughby, Shibastik, Candace Twance and Tony McGuire, This was followed by a fashion show and concert featuring youth from First Nations such as Pikangikum and Moose Cree.
The third and fourth days featured a powwow dance competition, something that hasn’t been done before in Thunder Bay, Wilkinson-Simard said.
“The contest was something that people were requesting,” he said. “In the past, we weren’t able to sponsor an event like that, but we put it in the agenda this year.”
The organizers recruited members of other communities such as Red Lake, Minnesota who had experience in other dance competitions to help organize and judge the competition.
“It was a learning experience for the community,” Wilkinson-Simard said, “but it went very well.”
He said singers and dancers from across the region and as far away as Saskatchewan, Minnesota and southern Ontario took part in the competition powwow.
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