July 22 kicked off The Drum is Calling Festival, an eight-day celebration of Indigenous and diverse culture that took place in Vancouver as part of the City's Canada 150+ celebrations. The festival featured a cornucopia of free activities including music, film, workshops, storytelling, fashion, speaker series, theme days, carving exhibitions, community programming, sports, dance, and food presentations. The festivities wrapped up on July 30 with Intertribal in Action Day and evening performances by Leela Gilday, Shane Koyczan and the Short Story Long, and others.
The Festival included the first ever Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week (VIFW), which took place July 26-29. VIFW designers from across Canada showcased modern Indigenous style that was innovative, vibrant beautiful, and proud.
The BC Alliance was in attendance at many of the Drum is Calling Festival events, and the reviews are in: the festival was a remarkable success that brought together Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in a shared celebration of humanity. Our Indigenous outreach coordinator, Shawna Kiesman, who attended all the Fashion Week events, said, "the shows were beautifully produced and created a more enriching experience by opening to the public, so everyone could attend."
BC Alliance executive director Brenda Leadlay enthused, "the Drum is Calling Festival transformed the whole city into a welcoming space for First Nations people in BC. Kudos to the City of Vancouver for celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial with this impressive event that made me proud to live here.
"More importantly, it emphasized that settlers have much to learn from the Indigenous community."
As a post-festival press release by City of Vancouver noted, "The Drum Is Calling Festival was an opportunity to foster mutual understanding and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in celebration of music, literature, arts, food, film and dance."