A colourful lineup of contemporary Indigenous performers kicked off the 2023 Movable Feast tour, with a night that celebrated healing through community, culture and music.
Hosted in snpintktn (Penticton) in syilx homelands at the Cleland Theatre, the free event featured performances from artists representing nations throughout the region — and some from around the world.
A product of the Indigenous-led 2 Rivers Remix (2RMX) Society, what they call a “Moveable Feast” consists of a group of Indigenous artists who bring contemporary music and culture to communities throughout “B.C.” at no cost to attendees.
The Moveable Feast event on March 29 in snpintktn was the result of a partnership between 2RMX, the En’owkin Centre and Ignite the Arts Festival.
“It’s almost like a gift,” said Meeka Morgan, a Secwèpemc and Nuu-chah-nulth vocalist with the Melawmen Collective, and the artistic director of the 2RMX Festival Society.
“That’s how I feel when we go into communities. It’s a gift. And they’re reciprocally gifting us as well with their energy, their time. It’s all about relationship-building.”
The snpintktn show capped off 2RMX’s second annual Confluence, which was a three-day conference hosted at the En’owkin Centre in snpintktn from March 26 to 28. It brought together dozens of Indigenous knowledge keepers and artists from different crafts, where they gave keynote talks, workshop presentations and showcased their art.
“It’s sharing how our culture continues to evolve. It is contemporary and it isn’t stuck in some far, distant past,” said Morgan, who performed with the Melawmen Collective in snpintktn.
Among the artists performing at the festival were Anishinaabe-Onkwehonwe Juno Award-winners Digging Roots, the Spiritual Warriors from the Líl̓wat Nation and the Melawmen Collective from the Secwèpemc, Nuu-chah-nulth and Nlaka’pamux nations.
“We like to really fill in the lineups with variety,” said Morgan.
“Some more nationally-known acts, and fill it in with really local and regional artists that are in the community, so that they can be showcased alongside this really incredible talent and see themselves up on stage at the same level as these incredible artists.”
The lineup also featured Indigenous dance group The Sqilx Dancers; Coast Salish singer and dancer Cynthia Jim; syilx, Ho-chunk and Anishinaabe Two-Spirit performing artist Madeline Terbasket; Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw and Cree R&B artist Nimkish; Indigenous folk artist Kym Gouchie from the Lheidli T’enneh, Cree and Secwépemc nations, and her daughter, Shayna Desjarlais.
International Indigenous artists included Ana Cornejo, an Aztec dancer of Mexican and a Peruvian ancestry, and DRMNGNOW, a Yorta Yorta-Dja Dja Wurrung interdisciplinary artist from Australia.
“In Mexico, the Indigenous people don’t have a voice,” said Cornejo.
“Coming very far from my home and having this opportunity to share, it’s something that’s new for me. But it makes me very excited to take that scene to Mexico.”
The Moveable Feast’s theme this year is “Bring The Children Home,” with the confirmed main festival set to take place in July in “Cache Creek” in Secwépemc homelands. Morgan said that performances in other communities before the main feast are also in the works, with more details to follow in the coming weeks on the 2RMX website.
“They never got to reach their highest potential. So we play music for them, and we ask them to be with us, dance with us and sing with us,” said Kanatakta during his performance, referring to residential “school” students who never returned home.
2RMX is a non-profit that originated from ‘Q’emcin (Lytton) in Nlakaʼpamux homelands in 2018. Their travelling Moveable Feast model began in 2021, where the idea to build relationships and perform in communities had been in the works, but was propelled into action after a fire razed through the host community that summer.
“For us, it was worse to not continue the work, because the community was all over the place as climate refugees,” said Morgan. “We wanted to have these events to bring them together.”
Brianna Underhill of the Nlaka’pamux and Na̲mg̲is Nations, who’s an admin assistant and a social media coordinator with 2RMX, described the Moveable Feast as a safe place to always be in.
“Just having this community — everywhere we go, it always feels like home, even though we’re going all over the place.”
Morgan said that she hopes that the community in snpintktn recognized and appreciated the Indigenous talent that exists out there.
“There’s so many stories that are needing and continue to be told, shared and experienced,” she said.
“That is true reconciliation; when we can really embody those stories and feel them, because there’s some heavy, heavy healing to do. So I guess that’s what I hope people take away, is the healing.”