Jessica Sault, a Tseshaht First Nation elder and member of All Nations Strong Women for Education and Reconciliation (ANSWER), introduces a dance during the closing ceremony for Gathering Our Voices on Friday, March 22 at Alberni Athletic Hall. ANSWER is an urban group representing seven nations from across Canada. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Indigenous voices celebrated at Alberni Athletic Hall

Gathering Our Voices 2019 concludes with song, dance and awards

Indigenous youth participating in Gathering Our Voices 2019, held March 19–22 in Port Alberni, took inspiration home with them following a packed closing ceremony at Alberni Athletic Hall on March 22.

All Nations Strong Women for Education and Reconciliation (ANSWER), featuring Elder Jessica Sault of Tseshaht First Nation and women from seven other nations across Canada, performed several songs to open the closing ceremony.

Shayla Stonechild, a television personality with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (she co-hosts the television program Red Earth Uncovered) and yogi, led the crowd with some movements while talking about the matriarch movement.

Jack Saddleback, a Cree two-spirit transgender gay man from the Samson Cree Mation in Maskwacis, Alberta, talked about growing up as a genderqueer child and how the Cree language has words—and acceptance—for people who live between male and female genders.

READ: Indigenous youth connect with their culture at Gathering Our Voices workshops

The Kiixin drummers and dancers from Huu-ay-aht First Nations in Anacla performed, inviting audience members to join them in a dance around the gymnasium floor.

Winners from the BC Indigenous Youth 3C Challenge were introduced, and provincial Indigenous Youth Awards were presented as well.

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A member of All Nations Strong Women for Education and Reconciliation (ANSWER) dances to the Mi’kmaq Medicine Song, sung by fellow performer Sarah Rhude, who is Mi’kmaq from the east coast. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

A member of All Nations Strong Women for Education and Reconciliation (ANSWER) performs Jessica Sault’s personal gratitude song during the closing ceremony for Gathering Our Voices on Friday, March 22. The masks were made by a 10-year-old acquaintance of Sault’s. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ group Kiixin dances through the crowd at the closing ceremony for Gathering Our Voices, encouraging participants to join them in dancing around the Alberni Athletic Hall. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

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