Exploring First Nations culture at Folklorama

First Nations dancer at Folklorama pavilion.

A chorus of croaking frogs is not what most people expect to hear at the Convention Centre, but visitors to the First Nations pavilion at Folklorama had the chance to listen to a throat singer deftly imitate the sounds of animals as part of the show.

With good food, energetic dances, storytelling, and more, the First Nations pavilion was well worth visiting.

The theme for this year’s First Nations pavilion is the medicine wheel as a symbol of the interconnectedness of life.

In keeping with that theme, the various parts of the show flowed smoothly from one to another, tied together by a joke-telling emcee who gave the evening a lighthearted atmosphere.

Stories and music were integrated into the tale of a traveler who formed a flute from a tree branch before playing it to lighten his journey.

Similarly, the expert throat singer who brought the sound of frogs into the room began with a story about the origins of the practice.

As the speaker explained, women left behind when their husbands went hunting had to supplement their children’s diets with small animals like frogs and squirrels. The ability to imitate their calls could make the difference between starvation and survival.

While the show give visitors a good chance to find out about the songs, dances, and stories of First Nations cultures, the food gave them the opportunity to try out the cuisine. From bannock to bean stew to a pizza-like pie, the food gave pavilion visitors a taste of the traditional food of Canada’s first people.

The decorations were sparse but effective, and the displays featured mainly several teepees where people could go to ask questions or explore the culture further. The room itself was very comfortable and spacious, with plenty of room for all of the visitors who came.

One aspect left unanswered was who exactly the show was representing: one particular tribe or a general view of some of the common features of First Nations cultures. Despite this omission, the presentation was lively and interesting, the food was good, and the pavilion was well worth visiting.

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I am a writer and editor with published articles on travel, science, technology, and other topics. Currently, I am working at a small archives in addition to my freelance writing and editing work.

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