Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival goes virtual this June

Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival

ONTARIO – Beginning on Monday of this week, the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival officially got underway, albeit in a different manner than planned.

Kevin Eshkawkogan, president of Indigenous Tourism Ontario, a partner of the event, explained that for the first time this Ottawa-based festival would have a Northern Ontario component with Manitoulin figuring largely in the lineup of inaugural events. The Summer Solstice events were to largely take place in the lead-up to National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 and the Wiikwemkoong traditional powwow, but with word that the annual powwow has been cancelled for 2020, Mr. Eshkawkogan said they also had to start rethinking their own plans.

“We decided to make this happen virtually,” he said. “We’re going to make it Ontario-wide as best we can.”

From now until June 21 there will be education days to celebrate National Indigenous Heritage Month with online resources available; online arts and crafts sessions with Indigenous makers from across the country. Simply register online and all of your supplies will be delivered right to your door; family fun such as language bingo, colouring contests, virtual journeys into the bush; a social distance competition powwow on Facebook (search Social Distance Powwow and register for virtual competition); live music and dance and, what Mr. Eshkawkogan is most looking forward to; the culinary component.

In a nod to the special place Manitoulin was to have in the inaugural Northern Ontario edition of the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, Manitoulin Island will have two Manitou Boxes for 100 or so lucky Islanders to take part in a culinary adventure with Chef Cezin (venison stew and bannock and maple wild rice pudding) and Chef Paul Owl (gourmet buffalo Indian taco and strawberry drink). Those lucky enough to receive a Manitou Box will have everything they need to make a world class dish alongside its creator chef online who will also be available for questions.

There may be a few Manitou Boxes left, so be sure to email info@IndigenousTourismOntario.com while supplies last. The cost is about $125 per box.

“It’s not necessarily about the contents of the box, but more about getting together as a community,” Mr. Eshkawkogan said. “With powwows cancelled and no visiting, it’s about knowing that there are other people doing the exact same thing, even if virtually.”

Mr. Eshkawkogan said he’s hoping that the Manitoulin edition of the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival is merely postponed until next year.

For more information and registration, please visit SummerSolsticeFestivals.ca.