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Here’s (some of) what you just saw at the Canada Winter Games Opening Ceremonies

Posted on 13 February 2015

I just finished watching the opening ceremonies of the Canada Winter Games. I liked it! I mean, as a rule there will be speeches from politicians but honestly that’s just something you kind of expect between the entertainment.

As a proud Prince George-er I loved seeing local talent showcased on a national stage. Good on the organizing committee for making that choice. It would have been really easy (and expected) to import some bigger names from out of town, but instead they chose to use the opportunity to expose the country to some hidden talents.

Seriously GOOD ON YOU @2015CanadaGames for showcasing local talent at the opening ceremony. #cityofpg #2015CanGames

— Andrew Kurjata (@akurjata) February 14, 2015

Here’s a quick recap of some of what you saw:

1. Pretty pictures of Prince George

 

The current rainy, slushy weather is doing its best to hide it, but Prince George is really a beautiful city. Spots from Move Up Prince George and Tourism PG helped prove it.

2. Local bands (and dancers)

The first PG band to take the stage was Bright City Heights. The song they played was “Aurora”. You can download it here.

 

The second local group to play was Black Spruce Bog. The song they played was “Tete Jaune Road.” You can download it here. They’ll be playing Sunday in the Canada Games Plaza, as well, opening for Alan Doyle.

The dancers in the Bright City Heights segment were all local, and the interpretive dancer Tristan Ghostkeeper, also of Prince George.  

3. Lheidli T’enneh Culture

This was my favourite thing. For the first time ever, the Canada Games has an official host First Nation in the form of the Lheidli T’enneh, and they were front and centre of this whole thing. At one point, a canoe was put on the stage, one of two dugouts carved by University of Northern British Columbia students under the guidance of elder Robert Frederick. It was the first time a canoe had been made in the traditional Lheidli style in decades. You can learn more about that story below:

The best part, though, was when all those kids got on stage and started singing “Oh Canada” in Dakelh, the Lheidli language, the first time this has ever happened. Last week I spoke to the elder who helped translate the song. She told me she always spoke Dakelh with her grandmother, but eventually people stopped speaking it. She paused. They took us to the schools, she said. Going from there to this moment is incredibly meaningful.

NOT GOING TO LIE “Oh Canada” sung by Lheidli kids in Dakelh is made me tear up at the national anthem for the first time ever #2015CanGames — Andrew Kurjata (@akurjata) February 14, 2015

But the joy she had talking about the coming weeks and the prominence of the Lheidli T’enneh in the whole thing- it was incredible. I’ve spoken to another of Lheidli in the lead up to this and I cannot understate how meaningful this is for them. This is Prince George’s 100th Anniversary… but part of what led to the creation of the city was the burning of the Lheidli village near downtown Prince George and the removal of the people to a reserve.

As much as this is a showcase for Prince George to Canada, this is also a showcase of the Lheidli to Prince George. A few years ago, there was hardly any visible First Nations presence downtown. Now, thanks in part to the Games, we have welcome signs in Dakelh, the Lheidli T’enneh flag flying high and the acknowledgement that we are on traditional Lheidli T’enneh going out on national television. This is absolutely what this city and country should be doing: embracing the reality of where we are.

There was a lot more but I’ll just leave it at good job to all involved. Made me proud.

PS There is only one thing I feel like was missing:

OK WAIT I JUST REALIZED THERE WAS NO MR. PG IN THE #2015CanGames OPENING WHAT GIVES? #cityofPG

— Andrew Kurjata (@akurjata) February 14, 2015


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