Blues player George Leach headlines Weetama 2002 

1 st Annual Aboriginal Tourism B.C. Awards also featured

The second annual Weetama, a festival of Aboriginal culture Aug. 12-18, will feature blues guitarist George Leach.

Leach, who was raised in Lillooet, is part of the Sta’atl’imx Nation. He is now based in Toronto, although he spends most of his time touring.

Leach has performed with veteran Robbie Robertson and opened for Bo Diddley. He sings from his debut album, Just Where I’m At (Independent, 2000). He received the award for both Best Male Artist of the Year and Best Rock Album at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.

Weetama is a presentation of Tourism Whistler, in co-operation with the Lil’Wat Nation and Squamish Nation. Gwen Young, festivals manager for Tourism Whistler, says "guests and locals alike have the opportunity to learn more about our Aboriginal communities, and can experience and participate in various workshops and seminars."

In addition to Leach’s concert on Saturday, Aug. 17 the week’s events include a traditional feast ceremony, dance performances and workshops. Weetama also includes the first B.C. Aboriginal Tourism Awards, which will be presented on Monday, Aug. 12.

George Taylor, of Le La La Dancers, performs a dance of the ancestors.

"We do demonstration dances of the potlatch, and try to give a better understanding of our ceremonies," says Taylor.

"It’s really exciting. Our show is Spirit of the Masks and includes dances of the killer whale and the eagle."

Alex Wells, a close friend of Taylor’s, performs hoop dancing at the Traditional Feast on Friday, Aug. 16. Wells holds the title of 2001 and 2002 World Champion Hoop Dancer. Audience members will actually participate in the show.

Additional workshops are to be confirmed later this month, and will take place from Aug. 13 through 17. Stone carving, jewellery design and making dreamcatchers are some of the workshops.

"Cultural sharing is what this festival is all about," says Young.

Tickets for the festival, the blues concert, and package deals are available at the Whistler Activities and Information Centre at 604-932-2394.

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