“They Miss the Tradition”: The Edmonton Heritage Pageant brings meals, solar and dance again to Hawrelak Park

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Ladles Taniguchi Dancers perform in the Israel Pavilion during the Edmonton Heritage Festival at Hawrelak Park on Sunday August 1, 2021. Dancers perform in the Israel Pavilion during the Edmonton Heritage Festival at Hawrelak Park on Sunday August 1, 2021. Photo by Larry Wong /POSTMEDIA NETWORK

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Smoky skies and scorching sun couldn’t stop Edmontoners from enjoying the Heritage Festival at William Hawrelak Park over the weekend.

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After COVID-19 canceled the 2020 festival, the pavilion organizers and volunteers were excited to be back in the park to share their culture with the community.

Hundreds gathered in the Israel Pavilion Sunday afternoon to watch the Aviv Israeli Dance Association perform. Red-clad dancers waved yellow “wings” in one of their dances and drew the audience into another.

“We had a big crowd at every show,” said Stacey Leavitt-Wright, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, the organizers of the pavilion. “People were out here just clapping along, taking part in our interactive dance, some people making videos and they’re excited to be part of things.”

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Festival goers also saw a Jewish wedding exhibition in one of the tents of the Israel Pavilion, a brand new exhibition, according to Leavitt-Wright. The exhibit featured elements of a traditional Israeli-Jewish wedding, displayed clothing, and a volunteer was on hand to answer any questions.

“Make an effort to get involved”

“We have 100 volunteers here over the weekend and they really try to get in touch with people to answer their questions about the history, the country and what you will see in some cities to see this commitment” said Leavitt-Wright.

Just a short walk from the Israel tent, crowds were standing in the Turkish pavilion for Donairs – they sold for $ 8 and baklava for $ 5. People also stood in lines of up to 30 people waiting to get their taste of Mexico. The pavilion sold tamales for $ 7 and three tacos for $ 12.

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On the other side of the footbridge, hundreds gathered in a circle to watch dancing in the indigenous pavilion.

“Nobody has danced in the past two years, so this is one of the first opportunities to dance,” said Ron Walker, executive director of the Canadian Native Friendship Center and pavilion coordinator.

“For me it is simply exciting and well attended because everyone can feel it for themselves, they miss the culture they have been used to in recent years, and this is a good wake-up call to not take things for granted.”

Métis jiggers and indigenous powwow dancers performed to traditional music, and Walker shared some knowledge of the feathers the dancers wear – one feather means they’re single, two feathers means they’re married, and three feathers mean that it’s complicated, he told the audience with a laugh.

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This year has also shed light on boarding schools, with unmarked graves found across the country, and Walker said it was important to keep sharing indigenous cultures.

“When I look at the culture and see how we make these young people dance today, it just kind of says that there were boarding schools and colonialism, and many of them wanted to destroy who we were.” Indigenous peoples, but we are still here, ”he said.

Beat the heat

The Palestine Pavilion saw long lines for its ice cream as people typed their credit cards on the hot afternoon to pay for the cool treat.

The energy was also high in the Côte d’Ivoire pavilion, where people danced to the tunes of the DJ, bought traditional clothes and beat the traditional drums of the country.

“It’s been a pleasure here and a pleasure to see that people are interested in our food and want to buy our clothes,” said Madina Traore, a volunteer. “It is nice to see that we can give others what is in our country and show them how we are, what we eat and what we wear. It was interesting.”

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