Written by Denise Deby.

It’s great to hear more buzz about the Asinabka Festival this year.

The festival, in its third year, presents films and other artistic works by filmmakers and artists from Canada and other countries, works that address Indigenous cultures, histories and viewpoints.

This year Asinabka has included two outdoor feature film screenings, a wide range of short films, a live music night, a talk on photography with acclaimed hip hop photographer Ernie Paniccioli and an art gallery crawl. Opening night saw a screening of “must-see” Canadian film Rhymes For Young Ghouls, an Indigenous Walking Tour of central Ottawa and a gathering, “Decolonizing Together,”  for people to come together to discuss a new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples based on justice and solidarity. The festival closes this evening (Sunday, July 27, 2014) with a screening of Drunktown’s Finest (USA, 2014) at Victoria Island on the Ottawa River.

I think the Asinabka Festival is hugely important. By making diverse Indigenous perspectives, stories and voices more accessible, the festival promotes acknowledgement and understanding of the complexities of Indigenous peoples’ lives and relations with non-Indigenous peoples. It combats the erroneous “single story” that often prevails about Indigenous peoples, and sheds light on histories and realities that have been invisible to many Canadians.

The Asinabka Festival also offers a way to see Ottawa with new eyes. As explained on the Festival website:

The name Asinabka was chosen for this festival as an act of decolonization, and to reinforce that the Nations Capital is in the heart of the unsurrendered land of the Algonquins of the Ottawa River Valley. It was also chosen in solidarity with Elder William Commanda’s visions for the Asinabka area.”

Those visions include a plan for what the area could be—a place of natural beauty and one that respects the ecological, spiritual and cultural integrity of Victoria Island and the Chaudière Falls.

Check out the Asinabka Festival today if you can, or keep an eye out for news and related events for 2015.

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