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Amanda Nahanee and her husband, Vancouver mayoral candidate Chief Ian Campbell provide the traditional greeting and blessing at the Indigenous Feast The Harmony Arts Festival hosts an Indigenous Feast; Vancouver Queer Film Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary; and Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation recently concluded its 8th annual Foundation League.

FIRST COURSE: For the first time in 28 years, the Harmony Arts Festival shined a spotlight on Indigenous arts, music and food.

Given the festival takes place on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations, one could be forgiven for thinking there already was a standing Indigenous component at the popular cultural celebrations on the North Shore.

In this era of truth and reconciliation, festival manager Christie Roach smartly reached out to Squamish Nation artist Latash Nahanee to curate the Indigenous Art Showcase. The result is a robust program highlighting First Nations performers, artists and culinary talents.

A practitioner of Squamish culture, Nahanee organized The Indigenous Feast, the festival’s signature event that opened the 10-day partypalooza along West Vancouver’s waterfront. A sold-out affair, Inez Cook’s Salmon n’ Bannock Restaurant, a pioneer of First Nations cuisine, and Vancouver’s only Indigenous restaurant, got the call to prepare the much-hyped meal at Ambleside Landing along the Coast Salish Sea. Vancouver mayoral candidate Ian Campbell , a hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation, would provide the traditional greeting and blessing while Mohawk blues musician Murray Porter performed.

Using traditional ingredients and local bounty, the menu included barbecued sockeye salmon, poached halibut, steamed clams, bison slow cooked for 24 hours and smoked oolichan — a little fatty smelt-like silver fish wrapped in pastry that was a palette pleaser.

A fortunate 180 diners, primarily non-Indigenous guests, made the scene to experience the traditional alfresco meal paired with Indigenous made wine. More reportedly clamoured for a seat. Under a blistering heat, many also clamoured for a glass of wine before the start of dinner, prompting Cook to come from the kitchen to make an impromptu announcement before the evening festivities commenced.

“In our tradition it is customary to only serve water before the blessing of the food,” the Nuxalk Nation native said with a smile. “Wine is to be served afterwards.”

“I guess we still have a lot more to learn,” whispered a neighbouring tablemate. West Vancouver mayor Michael Smith, K’aana Deborah Baker, co-chair of the Squamish Nation, and Rick Amantea, VP, Community Partnerships and Development for Park Royal welcomed guests to Harmony Festival’s signature event. Festival manager Christie Roach and Salmon n’ Bannock Restaurant’s Inez Cook fronted the inaugural Indigenous Feast, attracting a sellout crowd of 180 guests to the traditional First Nations dinner. For the 28th running of West Vancouver’s Harmony Arts Festival, Latash Nahanee, a practitioner of Squamish culture, curated the festival’s first ever Indigenous program of visual, performing and culinary arts. PRIDE ON SCREEN: The first Vancouver Queer Film Festival saw a handful of films screened as a cultural component of the 1988 Vancouver Gay Games. While the sporting event was a one-off, the celluloid celebrations carried on with the festival growing in size and scale each year.

Today, the VQFF is the second largest film festival in Vancouver, next to VIFF and the largest queer arts celebration in Western Canada; 2018 marks the festival’s 30th anniversary.

For the milestone year, artistic directors Amber Dawn and Anoushka Ratnarajah selected some 70 films from 15 countries to be screened, with more than half by women and people of colour.

This year’s line up also gives prominence to Indigenous and Asian filmmakers and actors, a demographic often under-represented on television and movie screens; the recent release of […]

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