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Day 3: Music and Dance

First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultural identity can be found in music and dance. Events from ceremonies to feasts include usually include drumming, singing, and dancing.  Due to this cultural significance, First Nations music and dance were outlawed by the Indian Act as part of forced assimilation.

Today, let’s learn more about Indigenous music and dance and how they are connected to reconciliation.  

Once again, it is not possible to include all Indigenous music or dance in this posting. Instead, it is the hope that this short introduction inspires your journey to learn more and explore the rich and diverse cultures of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada.  

Read: Recovering Stolen Dances 

First Nations, Inuit, and Métis dances have survived despite the impacts of colonization and assimilation. The article Recovering Stolen Dances discusses the history of Indigenous dances and how they were illegal until 1951.  

  • First Nations Powwows 

What’s a powwow? For many First Nations, a powwow is a gathering that brings generations together to celebrate culture and tradition. During a powwow there are dance competitions, feasts, brightly coloured regalia, and drummers playing songs passed down for generations. Dances, music, and regalia vary depending on the region and nation hosting! 

  • Métis Jigging 

Métis jigging is a dance influenced by First Nations, Scottish, Celtic, French, and Irish dance forms. This is a celebratory dance that is reflective of the Red River area, which is home for many Métis people in Canada. There are many styles of jigging including the sash dance, reel of eight, and the broom dance.  

  • Inuit Throat Singing 

Inuit throat singing is about using the throat to replicate the sounds of nature, in an operatic way. Traditionally, two women would face each other making throat sounds back and forth in a game of trying to make the other laugh or run out of breath. Listen to the Inuit throat-singing sisters from Canada.   

Influential Indigenous Musicians in Canada 

Tanya Tagaq is in internationally recognized Inuit throat singer. She has uniquely paired throat singing with drums, poetry, and electronica. She has multiple honorary doctorates, is a bestselling author, a Juno award winner, and advocate for social change.  

Digging Roots is a husband-and-wife musical duo who blend folk-rock, pop, and the traditional sounds of Indigenous music. There music explores and raises awareness of the social injustices of the world, teaching to walk gently on the earth and to plant the seeds of the future.  

Jeremy Dutcher blends the traditional songs of his home with modern and classical influences. His music greatly influenced by his time spent working at the Canadian Museum of History. It is through listening to music in the archives that Dutcher heard the voices of his ancestors. They were singing songs and sharing stories that had been taken from the Wolastoqiyik peoples for generations.  

Listen: Indigenous Musicians 

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