Tucked into a small food trailer, we looked at a wall of charcuterie boxes stacked to the ceiling.
Over the next few days we would feed hundreds at the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival. In the fridge was over forty kilograms of smoked salmon we had shipped from Vancouver to Ottawa. We also had over thirty liters of jellied cedar and chokecherry jelly, twenty six liters of pickled milkweed pods, twelve pounds of dulse and five hundred of our signature maple walnut cookies.
The scale of what we had signed up for was dawning on us.
The walls of the trailer reverberated with drum beats - Halluci Nation’s hit, Sisters featuring Northern Voice. Across the grounds of Mādahòkì Farm a hundred kids were being led in a dance in front of the celebration stage.
It was beautiful and energizing to see. Nodding along with the music, we smiled and decided to ride this energy. We were going to give these people an experience to remember, Tawnshi style.
Indigenous People’s Day
With each seating of the exclusive picnic experience, we were called away from our little food trailer to meet guests who had asked to see us. They had questions about the food, about us and just wanted to say thanks. Getting so much positive feedback in such a condensed time frame was intense! Then we would race back to our trailer and get back to work.
The exclusive picnic experience was in a beautiful clearing, just down a tree-lined path leading away from the powwow grounds. Tables were set up with white canopies, blankets to sit on, decorated with flowers and tulle. It was an oasis of calm.
In the evening, we were treated to our very first drone show - a fleet of two hundred LED outfitted drones flying in a 3d rendered pattern to create moving shapes in the sky. As the drones lit up the sky, storyteller, elder, and language keeper Barbara Nolan graciously provided the Mewnizha story in English and Anishinaabemowin.
Celebrating Indigenous Culture and Heritage
There are over five hundred nations across Turtle Island, each with its own language and traditions. The festival was about bringing as many of them together to share art, education and community in a multi-disciplinary celebration of diverse indigenous cultures.
There were demonstrations of Metis jigging, oral history storytelling, culinary lessons, entertainers, an indigenous market and more. The big driver of the event was the powwow grand entry, a sacred dance led by an elder and accompanied with an opening song sung by a host drum. There were participants from nations all across North America and the differences in their regalia were broad and interesting to see.
Participating in the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival was an honor, privilege, and experience we won’t forget. It was a whirlwind of lessons, connections and opportunities. We send our gratitude to all the organizers, staff, volunteers and guests who made the event so special. And we hope to be back again!
As they say at Mādahòkì Farm, Chi Miigwetch!