One Wave Festival inspires a rising tide

Photo provided.

Anneda Loup (middle) performs with Sean Flynch Behnsen (left) and Francis Dick (far right) at One Wave Festival. Photo by Kaitlyn Kokoska.

Activists and artists alike shared their message at the eighth annual One Wave Festival, held on Sept. 22–26 in Victoria. The Pacific Peoples’ Partnership (PPP), a local non-profit group representing indigenous Pacific Islanders, hosted the event with speakers from local First Nations groups and individuals from Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, and the Solomon Islands.

Festival organizer Kat Zimmer explained that the event is meant to educate the public and create conversation about how environment impacts culture.

“We don’t necessarily think of ourselves in Victoria as Pacific Islanders, but we are . . . It doesn’t matter whether our ancestry is from this land or not. We all have a responsibility to take care of our lands and take care of our waters and our communities,” said Zimmer.

The festival ran in conjunction with the PPP’s Rising Tide Conference, a daily presentation of cultural backgrounds and histories.

Events started with an indigenous artists’ panel at the Greater Victoria Art Gallery on Sept. 22, followed by a night of Pacific films at the Victoria Events Centre, a community feast of Pacific foods at the Songhees Wellness Centre, and final festival celebration of artistic performances on Sept. 26 in Centennial Square.

Environmental activism stood as the central theme throughout the festival, especially during the event in Centennial Square. There, many performers urged the crowd to protect indigenous lands and culture through  demonstrations of traditional dances and songs to push awareness.

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Ta’Kiaya Blaney (left) and Kililah Rapanen (right). Photo by Kaitlyn Kokoska.

Ta’kaiya Blaney, a fourteen-year-old from the Sliammon First Nation, and her friend Kalilah Rampanen, representing her Cree First Nations background, shared their experience with climate change, their attitudes towards pipelines, and seeing their culture disappear through song.

After their performance, the duo explained that their elders gifted them with a voice and the planet cannot afford for them to wait until adulthood to spread their messages.

“I think that as indigenous peoples, the fact that we still exist is political, so it is not just our responsibility but something we need to do as indigenous people to stand our ground and rebuild our communities,” said Blaney.

As well as on-stage performers, the Puppets for Peace made an appearance, and interactive art stations for children entertained the younger crowd. Some political groups including the Green Party and other community advocacy groups attended alongside local artists.

Linda Weech, a UVic Alumni of Fine Arts, sold her mixed media art at the festival and believes artwork plays an integral role in the community.

“The greatest need that our world has today is to realize their oneness and their interconnectedness . . . My focus is to try and understand that and to come together with others,” said Weech. “We are all one family.”

The PPP also hosts cultural events throughout the year including a performance from the dance and music group Te Vaka at Alix Goolden Hall on Oct. 16. More information about the partnership and their upcoming events can be found on their website at pacificpeoplespartnership.org.

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