Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary aims for multicultural audience

The organizers of the annual Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary are looking to build a relationship with people of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

For the past eight years, there have been Indigenous-themed events in the week-long lead-up to National Indigenous Peoples Day, which acknowledges the culture and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Mé​​​​​tis people of Canada.

This year kicks off June 17 and will be geared toward celebrating First Nations culture and raising awareness of it among Calgarians. It culminates with a large event at Fort Calgary on June 22, the day after National Indigenous Peoples Day.

"This year, we actually want to do a multicultural aspect to our show, rather than just advertising it to the Aboriginal community," said event entertainment lead Marilyn North Peigan.

"We want to see the community of Calgary come together to show Canada we are ahead with multiculturalism in the city."

The event will be a family-friendly day of activities, such as a powwow, free pancake breakfast and a traditional ceremony.

Livia Manywounds/CBC

There will also be Indigenous artists selling various arts and crafts.

"As Native people, we are here still on this land. You don't have to be afraid of us. You can come see our culture thrive in many various forms," said Moonstone Creation manager Amy Willier, who is coordinating the vendors.

"I want to invite the greater community of Calgary to come because sometimes at different [Indigenous] events, people feel like they are not allowed to come or are afraid to come."

The event, she stressed, will be open to the public and she invites all people of diverse backgrounds to attend.

"I really want the greater community, like the Muslim community and immigrants, to come and meet us," Willier said.

The day will also be broadcast by APTN, which will show events live across Canada, including from Calgary, Whitehorse and Winnipeg.

You don't have to be afraid of us. Come see our culture thrive. - Amy Willier

Headlining the national Aboriginal event will be Blue Rodeo and Crystal Shawanda on the big stage. Musicians including Armond Duckchief, Dyet and the Love Soldiers, Ghostkeepers and Jacobus will perform throughout the day.

Emerging Indigenous artists will take the stage prior to the live broadcast and evening concert.

"To be ahead in these kind of adventures with multiculturalism is something Calgary has been really good at coming together to do," North Peigan said.

A full schedule will be available at aawc.com.