The 17th annual hosting of the Run as One music festival was held on Aug. 13 near Gleichen, giving local talent an opportunity to take to the stage.
The festival is the longest running Indigenous music festival in Canada, though according to Jennifer Kohlhammer, it wasn’t originally intended to become what it is today.
“It was a music festival that was started to showcase some local talent and inspire some of the youth and young adults in the community to engage in music and to express themselves through music,” said Kohlhammer. “It has just continued to run as a music festival and it’s grown over the years.”
Headliners such as The Hallucination (formerly A Tribe Called Red) and Zune took to the stage on Friday, among other acts.
“In addition to the youth who will be performing on stage we also have a number of dancers, there will be pow wow dancers, we’ve got some hip-hop dancers, break-dancers, whackers, they’ll all be part of the show as well,” said Kohlhammer. “We’ve had some really high-profile headliners over the years but we’ve always stayed true to the roots as well in terms of ensuring that there is space … for the youth and young adults and our local talent to shine.”
The festival was run as part of the Run as One Youth Awareness Week and was hosted on International Youth Day Aug. 13.
“The Youth Awareness Week in Siksika runs alongside International Youth Day to recognize the importance of youth and young adults in our communities across the world,” Kohlhammer explained.
She added the show usually attracts upwards of 500 attendees, though this year was being done a little differently.
A sort of “pod system” was set up, which had participating groups organized into blocks which were marked in the show field with posts and tape. Attendees also had the option to enjoy the show from their vehicles.
A total of 30 cohort pods were set up, each able to accommodate up to five people per pod.
“COVID-19 has not gone away yet. We’re still trying to be cautious and keep one another safe. It’s been a theme of ours since the very onset of the pandemic … to protect one another,” said Kohlhammer.
She added the event was never cancelled, even through the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, different avenues were used in order to continue the show, including taking over the airwaves of a local radio station.
Also, at the event this year was the Immunization special forces which were offering first and second doses of Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines on site to those who were eligible.
Immunization Special Forces is a mobile unit that was formed through a partnership between Siksika Health Services, Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, and Be The Change.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times