The Six Nations on the Grand River will make history on July 17 when they gather and showcase their best talent for the first time at Canada’s Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
“The people of Six Nations on the Grand River have always had a strong cultural and artistic lineage,” said Bill Montour, elected chief, citing their tribe’s poets, actors, singers, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, carvers, potters painters, lacrosse and hockey players.
“It is time for Six Nations to celebrate our own artists and athletes and showcase them on a national stage,” said Montour. The level of excellence of poetess Pauline Johnson, actor Jay Silverheels (Tonto), long distance runner Tom Longboat are just a few of the role models to draw upon, he added.
The one-night extravaganza, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., will be hosted by Graham Greene, Oscar nominated actor who appeared in Dances With Wolves, Santee Smith, artistic director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, Gary Farmer, Gemini-award winning actor and blues harmonica player and Cheri Maracle, actor and singer.
Lacrosse players from the 2012 National Lacrosse League Champions, the Rochester Knighthawks and former NHL Boston Bruins Jonathan Stan are expected to delight the audience with a special presentation.
“This is the first time we will showcase all our talent,” said Councillor Ava Hill, (District 2) who is one of the main proponents of the extravaganza, billed as “All Star Talent Showcase.”
“We have been working at this for a year. There will be a lot of people in the city of Toronto.” Hill said she expects about 800 to 1,000 people to attend the free admission talent show.
The event spearheaded by the Six Nations Elected Council coincides with The Assembly of First Nations 33rd Annual General Assembly which will be held on the same location from July 17 to 19.
“We want to showcase what the Six Nations on the Grand River has to offer. We want to promote us, our tourism, and acknowledge our artists,” said Hill, referring to struggling artists who do great work but don’t get the much-deserved attention.
As to how they were able to assemble a big all-star group, Hill said they come together because the artists and athletes support each other and are proud of what each has accomplished.
Hill said organizers which include Elaine Bomberry, the talent Showcase coordinator, who also is a longtime aboriginal arts activist, wanted to do an idol singing contest but decided not to because there was not enough time to do it.
“There are just so many talented artists and athletes,” she said, adding that they had to turn some people away because they could not accommodate the artists in the program.
The wealth of talent includes potter Steve Smith of Talking Earth Pottery, who along with other artists will display their works at the Main Hall. The athletes like former Olympian and Pan Am medalist Waneek Horn-Miller will also be able to greet guests at the hall before the show starts.
The musical journey and Showcase begins at 6 p.m. with The Six Nations Women Singers, The Old Mush Singers and the Skye Dance Troupe.
Also in the line up are Stoneridge Bluegrass with John McNaughton, Robin & Hub Maracle, Bob Sault & Bill Maracle, Folk music with ElizaBeth Hill trio, Original Country with Rebecca Miller Band and Electrifying Rock ‘n Soulful Blues by Derek Miller, The Murray Potter Band, Faron Johns Band, The Healers and The Pappy Johns Band.
One of the highlights of the Showcase will be the final session where everyone will be jamming together, said Hill.
The artists and athletes featured at the event have won numerous awards and nominations from across North America, including an Oscar Academy-Award nomination, Genie Awards, Gemini Awards, JUNO Awards, DORA Awards, Western Canadian Music Awards, Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards, Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, Native American Music Awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards and Maple Blues Awards.
Aside from the Six Nations Elected Council, the Showcase is sponsored by RBC Royal Bank, Samsung, Samsung C & T, Pattern, Blakes Lawyers and First Nations Engineering Services Ltd.