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Chamakese, left, and Gladue, right, will be performing at the University of Saskatchewan for Aboriginal Achievement Week.

Aboriginal Achievement Week is underway at the University of Saskatchewan. It is organized by the Aboriginal Student Centre. Events are scheduled throughout the week and include musical performances, art exhibitions, and a round dance.

 

Robert Gladue and Jason Chamakese will perform during the Aboriginal Achievement Week festivities. Chamakese is a flutist and Gladue plays the hand drum as well as sings.

 

It will be their first time performing at Aboriginal Achievement Week, though they have performed at the U of S before.

 

“Along with the music, there are also stories that blend in with the songs that we perform,” Gladue said. The two will perform songs telling old stories which have been passed down to them.

 

“Keep in mind that we’re not actually traditional storytellers because that title is reserved for our Elders,” Gladue explained.

 

The pair will also talk about personal experiences. Gladue notes that the performance depends on the audience or the theme of the performance.

 

Bring on the Heat! is another live performance scheduled and is described as a “battle of the words” by organizer Tasha Hubbard. “Bring on the Heat! is organized by a collective of indigenous and non-indigenous faculty,” Hubbard said.

 

Four women will perform, all of whom have something different planned. Jennifer Bishop, Tenille Campbell, Dakota-Ray Hebert and Zoey ‘Pricelys’ Roy will take the stage and compete against each other for Bring on the Heat!

 

Humour is the common factor among the four performers, but Bring on the Heat! will also deal with important issues like colonialism and how women are perceived in society.

 

Performer Tenille Campbell said the event was based on a poetry slam.

 

“We’re each talking on the theme of irreverence, of using language, words, humour to push at the boundaries. It’s supposed to make us think about the issues that we kind of approach blindly and re-evaluate them,” Campbell said.

 

Zoey ‘Pricelys’ Roy has a different approach to her performance, as she is a self-described spoken word poet and MC. “I write about indigenous issues and things to celebrate as an indigenous people,” Roy said. “I was really inspired by Idle No More. I am an activist.”

 

Roy believes there is a certain responsibility to be held as a female indigenous performer.

 

“I think we’re developing new allies. Indigenous artists, we have such a huge responsibility in reclaiming our identity and being proud of who we are. I hold that responsibility very seriously,” Roy said.

 

“An old man told me when I was growing up, ‘You have three strikes against you: you’re poor, you’re native, and you’re a woman. Life is going to be really hard for you.’ I had to take that really seriously because he wasn’t trying to be derogatory. He was actually telling me the truth. So, I kept that in the back of my mind,” Roy said. “You know, having the gift of being able to write and share stories with so many people... Being an indigenous woman, I take that as a blessing and not as a curse when sometimes that’s not the narrative anymore.”

 

Chamakese and Gladue are scheduled to perform in Regina at the First Nations University of Canada on Feb. 10.

 

The list of scheduled events can be found at http://www.usask.ca/events/month.php?cal=Aboriginal.