British Columbia

Contemporary Indigenous arts festival launches in Victoria

Sarah Pocklington, First Peoples Cultural Council arts manager is launching the first ever Indigifest in Victoria this weekend.

'We have incredible indigenous artists in this province,' says arts manager

Hip-hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids will be performing this weekend. They grew up in Kitamaat Village, a Haisla First Nation reserve in northwest B.C. (Marc De Vinci)

Indigifest, a festival that celebrates contemporary Indigenous artists, launches Friday in Victoria.

The festival is a free, one-day event at the Esquimalt Gorge Park, which will include musical performers, workshops and interactive activities.

Sarah Pocklington, a musician and arts manager of First Peoples Cultural Council, started the initiative to give rising artists a platform to connect with other Indigenous artists in B.C.

"We have incredible indigenous artists in this province ... It's about lifting up artists," Pocklington said.

The council is a provincial Crown corporation formed to revitalize First Nations languages, arts and culture.

The First People's Cultural Council is presenting the first annual Indigifest this weekend in Victoria. The organizers say, the festival will be a celebration of Indigenous music, arts and culture.

Internationally renowned artists like the Snotty Nose Rez kids and Niska Napoleon will be taking part.

Pocklington is of Cree, Scottish and English heritage and the executive producer of this year's festival.

She said the idea for the festival grew from a music retreat for Indigenous musicians in 2018, also organized by the First Peoples' Cultural Council.

Pictured: Sarah Pocklington, a musician and arts manager of First Peoples Cultural Council. (Craig Pulsifer)

"The retreat was quite exceptional ... we had a lot of mentors," she said. There, she gained knowledge about the arts industry and wanted to contribute more.

"Emerging artists are expressing their values and cultures ...  in new and exciting ways," she said.

Pocklington said, Indigifest is more than just a platform for rising artists ... it's a place for those in the arts community to connect and come together.

Many people who took part in the cultural council's programs are working as technical stage producers, workshop facilitators and managers.

'They need opportunity'

"It's an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the Indigenous cultures," Pocklington said.

What emerging Indigenous artists need right now is a shot to pursue their career goals, she said.

"They need opportunity, that's the biggest thing."

with files from On the Island

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