Monday, September 22, 2014
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Aboriginal Day 2014: Water, what water? (story and gallery)

By Trevor Greyeyes



Would you believe this was Murray Porter's hotel room view.


Well, it started as a beautifully glorious day with Aboriginal Day 2014 weathering a few rainy periods to end gloriously with headliner Billy Ray Cyrus and fireworks to close out the day.


Now, I have to say that as a journalist I have covered numerous Aboriginal Day celebrations over the years and even before that I have also participated as an organizer and performer.

I have to echo the sentiments of bluesman Murray Porter when I interviewed him about the upcoming show.

"Wonderful place to be. I think the biggest thing about this place (Winnipeg). It's not the location. It's not the weather. It's the people. There's some good people around here," said Porter who at the time of the interview was scheduled to perform that night.

Now, Porter knows a thing or two about Winnipeg because he was in a band that used to open for C Weed. He was planning, in fact, on going to the Pyramid Cabaret after his performance to check out C Weed who was playing there that night.

And I interviewed Porter from his hotel room that was nicely air conditioned because anyone who was at the Forks that day can tell you it was a hot one.

I told Porter that if he wasn't performing that he could watch the whole show from his hotel room.

Of course, there was a gazillion activities and performances going on all over the place including a competition pow wow, square dance demonstrations, kids games, soapstone carving, skateboard demonstration and competition, Inuit throat singing and one very brave dude in a head to toe beaver outfit.

I also took in quite a bit of the skateboard demonstrations. Actually, to be perfectly honest that's because I am working on a project about First Nations youth finding their way through the skateboard sport.

I spent the better part of the day in the hot sun and I got to say that not only was I totally captivated but more than a little jealous of the young people participating. Ah, if only these old creaky bones and ligaments were up to it I just might have to jump on a board as well.

Sigh. Guess I'll just have to stick to crashing my bike.

I also got to run into a lot friends out for the day.

Dennis Chartrand was wearing an outfit that reminded me of Flava Flav, the rapper. Funny Dennis. Funny.

Or take Althea Guiboche for example, better known as the Bannock Lady, I think. She was roaming around in a tutu with three of her youngest.

One of her young ones told us she had to go over to say hi to the Beaver. And when I looked over, lo and behold there was a beaver or rather some brave person in a beaver costume under the full heat of an afternoon sun.

I took in the pow wow and told provincial minister Eric Robinson and David Blacksmith, who were of course emceeing the pow wow, to look sexier when I stopped to take their photo. I've known both men to be both graceful and humorous over the years and they didn't disappoint with a funny reaction to my request.

When I came back around, I ran into an old friend, former boss and mentor Wayne Helgason. We reminisced about the past. When I told him that I would be turning 50 later this year, he looked at my hair and asked me what brand of dye did I use.

In 1996, I sat on a committee that was helping to organize the various activities at The Forks for Aboriginal Day. It was an honour. Up until that point the Aboriginal Languages of Manitoba had been organizing Aboriginal Solidarity Day.

However, the event had gotten too big to organize for such a small organization.
That year, I auditioned and won a spot performing before the headliners who were being broadcast on CBC. Back before there was an APTN. My we have come far haven't we.

That too was an honour.

But I know what some people are thinking as they read this piece.

You, you, you. It's all about you Greyeyes.

In a way it is because, hey, I can't occupy or read your mind.

So, if you want by all means in the comments section following this I urge anyone to share some of your favorite Aboriginal Day memories.

Go ahead.
I dare you.

Just keep it upbeat.

Thank you to everyone there and all the other celebrations. I like to think that I approach every day as Aboriginal Day.


Can't have a pow wow without a drum group.


End of the afternoon pow wow.


David Blacksmith and Eric Robinson hamming it up.


Is that the Aboriginal Flava Flav.


A square dance demonstration in the heat. Bravo dancers. Bravo.


Look at the guys in the square dancers demo back up band. Wow. 


And of course, you can't forget the fiddle player.


Bannock Lady and her younguns. 


Inuit throat singing intense and entertaining. 


Soapstone carver gets into it. 


Skateboard high flying competition. 


Murray Porter... the legend looks out his hotel room window.


Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

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