Tuesday, July 1, 2008

O Kanata!

This afternoon, the girlies and I attended a wonderful Canada Day celebration, on our town's Main Street. The part we enjoyed most of all was a performance by The Gonrah Desgohwah White Pine Dancers, who originate from the Kanata Village, in Brantford, Ontario. Gonrah Desgohwah means "tree with five needles" in the Onondaga Language (Haudenosaunee, Six Nations, Iroquois) , and is pronounced "Gon-rah-dis-go-wah".

This extraordinary group of performers not only demonstrate exquisite First Nations dance and music, but also educate while they are performing. Using his wildly funny sense of humour, Aaron Bell, who is an Ojibway storyteller and narrates the performances, shares an incredible amount of information about Canada's First Nations People, their traditions, and their beliefs. Says Aaron, "We are trying to create a more understanding today, so that there is less misunderstanding for our children tomorrow."

Several years ago, the Girl Guide troupe that I was leading had the great good fortune to attend an hour-long presentation by The White Pine Dancers... And, I can honestly say that I learned more about the First Nations People during that hour, than I did during five long years of highschool history classes.

Of course, what strikes me immediately are the beautiful ceremonial garments that the dancers wear while they perform, and the incredible visual effects they create as they move...

Here is a short video I took of "The Healing Dance". The lovely jingle-y "cabochons" that adorn this gown, and make such an important contribution to the musical accompaniment of the dance, are now made of a thin metal. I was told that historically, they would have been made from deer hooves. Aaron assured us that deer don't take having their toes stolen lightly... but I can't help wondering how different the sound effect must have been, when the "natural fibre" was used...

I am so proud to be a citizen of a country, so rich in heritage, and in history. It is such a great honour to be a Canadian.

1 comment:

mrinz said...

Thank you for a very interesting post!!

The dancers are so colourful. I would love to see them in person.

Do the local First nation people still speak their language? ie in every day situations? Or at home?

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