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Juno-winner Celeigh Cardinal and Cree musician Sebastian Gaskin to headline third annual Indigenous festival ʔəm̓i ce:p xʷiwəl (Come Toward the Fire)

 The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia and Musqueam invite you to mark your calendars for the third annual Indigenous festival, ʔəm̓i ce:p xʷiwəl (Come Toward the Fire)! This year’s festival will take place on September 14 2024, from 12PM to 7PM. Indoor and outdoor activities will begin at 12PM, culminating with headlining performances inside the Chan Shun Concert Hall beginning at 5PM by soul and folk singer Celeigh Cardinal and genre-defying singer and producer Sebastian Gaskin. The entire festival is free and does not require tickets. 

"We are honoured to partner with Musqueam again this year to present ʔəm̓i ce:p xʷiwəl. I’m thrilled that all of this year’s festival will be entirely free for everyone, making it more accessible than ever. We’ve invited some of the most inspiring Indigenous musicians, artists, and storytellers from across the continent to join us and I look forward to celebrating our people’s brilliance and creativity together.” 

Jarrett Martineau, nêhiyaw/Denesuline Chan Centre Curator-in-Residence

Headlining act Celeigh Cardinal is a Métis singer-songwriter from Peace Country Alberta, who has been carving a name for herself in the Canadian music scene. Her first full-length album Everything and Nothing at All (2017) was a critical hit, resulting in an “Indigenous Artist of the Year” award at the Western Canadian Music Awards and a nomination for “Best Pop Album” at the CBC Indigenous Music Awards. In 2020, the JUNOS awarded her “Indigenous Artist of the Year,” and her highly anticipated third album arrives June 24 of this year. Cardinal’s powerful voice exudes warmth while the lyrics she pens reveal the euphoria of falling in love and the devastation of heartbreak.

Fellow closing act Sebastian Gaskin is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and producer who has supported acts like T-Pain and Common. The Tataskweyak Cree Nation musician has been described as “Post Malone mixed with Frank Ocean, all swag and smooth vocals, hits of hip hop and rap, rounded out with emotive thoughtful lyrics.” (Winnipeg Free Press) The Western Canadian Music Award-winner has been steadily growing in acclaim, playing festivals around the world while racking up hundreds of thousands of streams. Both Cardinal and Gaskin will perform inside the Chan Shun Concert Hall as part of the finale act for the festivities from 5-7PM.

For the 12PM to 5PM portion of the day, two outdoor stages will be dedicated to more musical acts, storytellers, speakers, and dancers. Confirmed artists include Tłı̨ chǫ multi-instrumentalist Digawolf, who hails from the remote community of Behchoko in the Northwest Territories. His first and only language until the age of nine was Tłı̨ chǫ, and his songs are often inspired by his father’s stories of life on the land, as well as his own experience of navigating two worlds. The JUNO nominee produces music in both English and Tłı̨ chǫ, the latter which serves as a form of language preservation that also better evokes the north as he knows it.

Renowned Cree and Salish singer-songwriter and hand drummer Fawn Wood was the first female to win the Hand Drum contest at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, and she was awarded “Traditional Indigenous Artist of the Year” at the 2022 JUNOS. She has amassed a dedicated following on social media with over 80,000 followers on Instagram and over 2 million likes on TikTok.

Métis artist Sister Ray’s debut album Communion was praised by Pitchfork for its “complex study of webs of interpersonal hurt” while still being “a celebration of emotional survival.” The album was also longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. The singer, whose real name is Ella Coyes, writes songs yearning, loss, and love, full of honest and emotive introspection.

DJ Kookum and dancer Sierra Tasi Baker will also perform a dynamic set together. DJ Kookum is from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and Cold Lake First Nations. Now based in Vancouver, she has toured with Snotty Nose Rez Kids and played at festivals like Bass Coast and Nuit Blanche Toronto. Baker, who also goes by Kesugwilakw, is an Indigiqueer stélmexw from the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw and is also Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw/Musga̱mgw Dzawada̱’enuxw, Łingít and Magyar/Hungarian. A trained contemporary dancer, she is one of the choreographers for Butterflies in Spirit, an Indigenous dance group consisting of family members of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.

Collaborative duo Tsimka and Michael Red will also perform. Red is a Vancouver-based DJ, producer, and composer and is a major player in Vancouver’s ambient and electronic music scene. A former collaborator and touring artist with Tanya Tagaq, Red has been featured in The Wire and Vice. In his duo with Tsimka, he creates and reveals music and atmospheres with the natural sounds recorded by Tsimka from her ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ home territory, and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh territory where she now resides. Tsimka plays the hand drum and sings almost exclusively in ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ.

Finally, returning this year is Kitasoo/Xais’xais Nation’s singer-songwriter Hayley Wallis & The Bright Futures, traditional Salish song and dance multi-generational group Tsatsu Stalqayu (Coastal Wolf Pack), Musqueam DJ, rapper, and producer MJ ScottS, and Haida author, singer, and hand drummer Kung Jaadee who will once again enthrall children with stories from Haida Gwaii.

The performances held throughout the day will be recorded for CBC and broadcast nationally on CBC Music and Radio on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The festival will also include a range of other family-friendly offerings, including: readings by Indigenous poets and authors curated by Massy Books, Indigenous film screenings curated by imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, and an Indigenous artisan market and food vendors, showcasing the Lower Mainland’s Indigenous entrepreneurs.

The full festival program will be announced later this summer highlighting Musqueam hosts, performers, vendors, and additional artists.

ʔəm̓i ce:p xʷiwəl is supported by the Province of BC, Creative BC, and media partner CBC Vancouver.

Thu Jun 6, 2024