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Tanya Tagaq in the rain at the 2010 Ode’min Giizis Festival

“We should bless this rain, right? We should bless it because actually it’s cleaning everything, right?” – Tanya Tagaq

In five years (2008-2012) of hosting outdoor events during the Ode’min Giizis (Strawberry Moon) Festival there had never been before, and never would be again, a rain of this magnitude. It came while Tanya Tagaq and her collaborators, Michael Edwards and cellist Cris Derksen, were on the Del Crary Park stage in downtown Peterborough.

As seen in these excerpts of the show, first the sound crew, headed up by John Muir (he’s the guy with the huge mane of hair), moves the microphones back a few feet so they are under the stage’s roof. Suddenly, as if to emphasize the point, the entire lighting system blacks out momentarily. This is just a challenge to Tanya to push through even harder, but being under the stage roof she doesn’t get the full effect of the downpour. It gets worse and the crew comes back to remove the mics altogether, leaving only Tanya’s hand-held mic. Finally, when she invites New Zealand artist Mihirangi on stage for a concert-ending jam, John gently insists the electricity is being shut down now (any other sound guy would have ended it more abruptly and earlier) and that she invite the audience over to the Red Dog Tavern, where other artists in the festival are playing out of the rain. She does this and says good bye, telling the remaining faithful “I fuckin love this [unintelligible] Peterborough.”

The dedication by artists, staff and volunteers to putting on a festival no matter what adverse circumstances were encountered – as exemplified by this concert – was how the Ode’min Giizis Festival managed to survive five under-funded years of presenting indigenous – and non-indigenous – artists from the Peterborough area and around the world. A huge accomplishment on the part of festival director Patti Shaughnessy and the entire O’Kaadenigan Wiingashk collective, whose creation it was. The positive effects reverberate to this day, as demonstrated by the high profile that indigenous artists have on the current Peterborough arts scene.

-Bill Kimball

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