Adäka means “coming into the light” in the Southern Tutchone language. The Festival is a gathering of many First Nations (mostly from the Yukon, but international First Nations are also featured) to celebrate their vibrant cultures. It is NOT a show put on for white people and the vibe is completely different than the wanna-be-politically-inclusive skits we see First Nation performs at official ceremonies. It's a real celebration by First Nations for the First Nations to which everybody is invited to participate. And it truly feels like an honor to be invited to such a wonderful event.
We hear it all the time: First Nations are so proud of their heritage! But to see it in action is very different. I have had the chance to work with children from different Canadian First Nations last summer and this summer and I felt that pride more than ever in the youth. It was heartwarming to see so many young people perform as dancers and drummers. We could feel the strong connexion and the pleasure they had to be together.
There were also 4 traditional boats being built during the festival and we got to talk for a while with a Maori carver from NZ who was working on adornments for a Tlingit dugout canoe. I loved this excerpt about that project called Dań Kwanje ’Á–Nààn: Voices Across the Water.
Our cultures were overtaken by colonization in the centuries following first contact with newcomers. We persevered in reclaiming our lands, autonomy and cultures. Today 11 of 14 Yukon First Nations are self-governing, exploring new pathways to sustainable prosperity.
Resilient and resourceful Elders survived tough times, preserving our languages and cultures. Honouring them we are building four watercraft ~ a moose skin boat, birch bark canoe, dugout canoe and quyaq ~ for Canada’s 150th anniversary. Like the watercraft of earlier days we have arrived at a new destiny – a place of pride and celebration as independent Indigenous peoples. It is in this spirit that we join with other Canadians – young and old, new arrivals and long time settlers, to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.
Dań Kwanje ’Á–Nààn: Voices Across the Water carries messages for all of us and for people around the world. We have only to listen, to learn and to share in this time of reconciliation – moving forward together safely into the waters of tomorrow.