Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Folk festival to centre on landless First Nations

The plight of landless First Nations bands continues into the fifth annual Spruce River Folk Festival, which again centres on the issue this Saturday.


Earlier this week, John Dorion filed a statement of claim in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench alleging that his band’s membership claim of 2009 has been blocked.

Dorion spoke at previous Spruce River Folk Festivals during the annual event’s landless band discussions, key organizer Ray Funk said this week, adding that he’s happy to see the issue move forward in the court system.

On Saturday, George Kingfisher, hereditary chief of the Young Chippewayan First Nation, will share his band’s story – a band dissolved by the Government of Canada in 1897.

Kingfisher’s story will join others in ushering in the Fifth Annual Spruce River Folk Festival on Saturday, beginning at 11:30.

The annual event is the fulfillment of a goal among Mennonite organizations to help people regain lands and livelihoods lost.

The event itself takes place on Funk’s land, which was his grandfather’s homestead.

Located about 20 kilometres north of Prince Albert, the land was formerly the Young Chippewayan’s Stony Knoll Indian Reserve prior to its 1897 dissolution.

In addition to Saturday’s “higher social purpose,” Funk said that Saturday’s folk festival is a fun, family-friendly get-together of like-minded people.

Last year’s event brought in about 130 people, Funk said, adding “the more the merrier.”

This year’s event is expected to draw more people in than last year as a result of headliners Constant Reminder and All Mighty Voice -- two well-regarded local acts.

On top of that is a number of improvements, including a covered tent area to shield attendees from rain (or the blisteringly hot sun forecast for Saturday), and better parking options (follow the signs).

“The event has developed a wonderful spirit of folks,” Funk summarized. “There’s a core of people who come year after year and look forward to seeing each other here.”

“We get very positive feedback from folks – both about the show itself and the awareness that we’re trying to create.”

This year’s event will begin with a First Nations pipe ceremony at 10 a.m., and will continue with the stories of landless bands at 11:30 a.m.

Music will be performed from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., during which stories of landless bands will continue in an on-site teepee.

Tickets are $10 per person or $20 for families and will be available at the gate, about 20 kilometres north of Prince Albert up Highway 2. Signs will mark the location.

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