Ottawa·The Weekend List

Powwow pageantry and all that jazz this weekend

The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival and the Ottawa Jazz Festival offer plenty of choice for culture and entertainment this weekend.

Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, Ottawa Jazz Festival kick off with eclectic offerings

The highlight of the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival is the competitive powwow, which attracts dancers, drummers and throat singers from across the country. (SSIF)

An immersive celebration of Indigenous culture and a jazz holiday in the heart of the city give culture lovers plenty of choice this weekend.

Indigenous experience

The highlight of the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival is the competitive powwow, which attracts Indigenous performers from the across the country. It's a big, glorious coming together of drummers, jingle dress dancers and throat singers, resplendent in elaborately decorated traditional garb.

There are plenty of activities to delight and engage children, too, including art-making, zip lining and face-painting. Kids can also participate in traditional sports and even learn Indigenous languages throughout the weekend. 

Kids check out a teepee at Vincent Massey Park. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

"They're able to see the world through Algonquin eyes," said Anishinaabe artist Simon Brascoupé. "This is an opportunity for young people to break down the stereotypes of who Indigenous people are."

  • Where: Vincent Massey Park on Heron Road
  • When: Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Note: Powwow competitions begin at noon each day.
  • Cost: Free

A festival of jazz

Fans fill flock to Confederation Park on Saturday to catch the ever-evolving Jane Siberry.

Chanteuse Nora Jones, late night celebrities The Roots and classic rockers Chicago headline this year's edition of the Ottawa Jazz Festival, but there are plenty of jazzy little gems to enjoy away from the main stage this weekend, too.

Jane Siberry mixes it up

Fiercely talented singer-songwriter Jane Siberry will be improvising after dark on the OLG stage in Confederation Park this Saturday at 10:30.

The ever-evolving musician promises to dip into some of her older repertoire including some of her quirkier folk material and greatest hits including Calling All Angels.

"I used to be much more selfish and just play new music because that's ... what I felt my job was. New, new, new," Siberry said. "But now I'm doing a mixture. So I think I have enough familiar songs so people can sort of rest in between the newer songs." 

Siberry will be joined on stage by musical director and pianist Peter Kiesewalter, the former Ottawa musician who now calls New York City home. Whitney LaGrange joins in on violin and cellist Julian Armour, who's also artistic director of the upcoming Music and Beyond festival, rounds out the group.

"It's going to be quite lush and luxurious for me," said Siberry, who recently returned from a seven-month solo tour.

Eldon Rathburn, genius

Left to right, jazz musicians Petr Cancura, Kevin Turcotte, Adrian Vedady, Marianne Trudel and Jim Doxas reimagine the music of NFB composer Eldon Rathburn. (Ottawa Jazzfest)

You might not have heard of Eldon Rathburn (1916-2008), but if you're Canadian, there's a good chance you've heard his work.

For 30 years, Rathburn was staff composer with the National Film Board, writing scores for countless films of every description, from public service messages and educational tutorials to poetic excursions along northern rivers and even feature films. In his later years, he lived in Ottawa.

A nimble and versatile composer, Rathburn drew from a wide variety of musical influences, but it was his jazzier scores that caught the attention of a group of prominent Canadian musicians. They'll be performing their recent recording, The Romance of Improvisation in Canada — The Genius of Eldon Rathburn, at the National Arts Centre's Fourth Stage on Saturday at 8 p.m.

  • When: The Ottawa Jazz Festival runs from Friday, June 21, until Tuesday, July 2.
  • Where: The main stage in located at Marion Dewar Plaza in from of Ottawa City Hall. Other performances are taking place in Confederation Park and at the NAC.
  • Cost: Ticket prices and passes vary in cost. They can be purchased here.

About the Author

Sandra Abma


Sandra Abma is a veteran CBC arts journalist. If you have an event or idea you want to share, please do at