Talking Stick Festival invites you to learn from Turtle Island’s groundbreaking artists

Immerse yourself in Indigenous art

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A digitally illustrated poster of a canoe floating across blue water with three people facing away from the viewer. The sky is lit up orange with the sun setting between mountains, and two eagles circling the sun.
TSF 2022 features tea workshops, tattoo exhibitions, and more! Image courtesy of Talking Stick Festival.

By: Sara Wong, Peak Associate

Talking Stick Festival (TSF) is about Indigenous artists coming together to present their work as a community.  Since the TSF’s introduction 21 years ago, it has been known as “North America’s premier Indigenous arts and culture festival.” 

This year’s TSF expands on that mission statement with events hosted in partnership with more local arts organizations. From a dance performance about herbal medicine to a documentary on breaking barriers in the theatre industry, the 2022 lineup exemplifies the diverse and multidisciplinary nature of Indigenous art. Here are four events you should put on your radar!

La Mitchin di Mitchif | June 19–21 | $18 | Scotiabank Dance Centre

La Mitchin di Mitchif is a collaborative dance piece between local companies V’ni Dansi and Oga Po’geh (Santa Fe)-based Dancing Earth. Artistic directors Yvonne Chartrand and Rulan Tangen, of V’ni Dansi and Dancing Earth respectively, are dedicated to promoting Indigenous culture and traditions through their choreography. This contemporary work explores the ancestral plant knowledge of Métis peoples. After the June 19th performance of La Mitchin di Mitchif, guests are invited to stay after the show to engage in discussion with both dance companies. Tickets are available online via Showpass.  

 

Medicine workshop | June 26, 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. | Free | 108-237 East 4th Avenue

Hosted by T’uy’t’tanat (Cease Wyss) — a self-proclaimed Indigenous “plant diva” — this tea blending workshop will introduce attendees to the medicinal uses of plants native to the Pacific Northwest Coast. Wyss has nearly 30 years experience as a herbalist, which they pour into their small business, Raven and Hummingbird Tea Co. I’ve had the pleasure of learning from Wyss in the past through an ethnobotany course at SFU. Their joy and passion for cultivating Indigenous plants is infectious. I also found their teaching style very approachable. If you don’t know a lot about plants but are curious to find out more, this is a great place to start. Space is limited for this workshop, so be sure to register by emailing info@vnidansi.ca. 

 

sacred skin | Now until June 30 | Free | SFU Goldcorp

This exhibition celebrates the work of seven Indigenous tattoo artists from across Turtle Island. Highlighting “the forms, aesthetics, meanings, and knowledge that they utilize,” sacred skin is an interactive way of documenting the artists’ cultural reclamation. Traditional tattooing in Indigenous communities suffered when the Canadian government enforced the Potlatch Ban in 1885. In an even more blatant example of cultural assimilation, Hovak Johnston, founder of the Inuit Tattoo Revitalization Project, noted how “missionaries and residential schools taught that the markings were shameful.” sacred skin explores the work that has been done in recent years to revitalize this artistic practice. From Nlaka’pamux mark maker Dion Kaszas’ bold blackwork designs to Iñupiaq creative Holly Mititquq Nordlum’s intricate handpoke and skin stitch tattoos, it’s clear this resurging art form is in good hands. 

 

Stories that Transform Us | Now until July 3 | Free | Online

For the past 20 years, Indigenous theatre company, Urban Ink, has been platforming diverse, underrepresented performers and storytellers. Stories that Transform Us is a 90 minute documentary commemorating the organization’s growth in pushing artistic boundaries. Created by current artistic director Corey Payette, the film includes short clips from some of Urban Ink’s previous productions, as well as conversations with Payette and past directors Marie Clements and Diane Roberts. You’ll also see Margo Kane, the founder and director of TSF, featured in this documentary. Stories that Transform Us is available to stream through Eventive.

For more information on TSF, visit their website or follow @talkingstickfst on Instagram.