Weetama Traditional Feast offers taste of aboriginal customs 

Sea to Sky Ballroom transformed into Feasthouse for 2002

What: Weetama: Traditional Feast

Where: Whistler Conference Centre

When: Aug. 16, 7:30 p.m.

Cedar boughs, waving you inside on your walk to a pseudo-feast house, granting you blessings.

This is the cleansing ceremony, part of the traditional feast celebration during Weetama, Tourism Whistler’s Celebration of Aboriginal Tourism and Culture, which is supported by the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations. The traditional feast is Aug. 16 but Weetama events take place Aug. 12-18.

This year’s performer at the traditional feast is Alex Wells, World Champion Hoop Dancer in 2001 and 2002. Accompanied by flute, hoop dancers tell stories through the rhythm of the dance.

As is customary at traditional feasts, guests take home gifts. Last year guests received bentwood boxes, and wooden clackers, cedar reminders from the traditional dinner.

Tickets are $34.95 for children and $84.95 for adults.

"A chief from one of the nations will make a speech at the start of the dinner, followed by sampling of different foods from the land, sky, water and earth," says Gwen Young, manager of Tourism Whistler’s Festivals Experience.

Savoury samples from this year’s menu include Nanuvut Arctic musk-ox, Musqueam quail, and marinated milkweed pad and catttail hearts,

Young says the emphasis is on participation, and interaction.

"It’s an evening where if guests cannot attend anything else at Weetama, this really lets them sample different aspects of food, traditional dance and tradition."

Young adds that the vision for Weetama is "to build bridges between cultures and celebrate the rich and vibrant culture of the Aboriginal People in a world class setting."

Additional events through the festival include a screening of filmmaker Deb Hilary’s Trading Secrets documentary on Aug. 14, a film that depicts an entry and smudge ceremony. On Aug. 12 opening ceremonies and welcome will be performed by members of the Lil’wat Nation at 1 p.m. in Village Square.

Totem pole carving takes place from Aug. 12 through 18 at Mountain Square in Whistler Village, beween 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and salmon barbecues will be on the patio of the Whistler Conference Centre on Aug. 12 from 11:30 a.m. as well as Aug. 13 through 18.

For information and tickets contact Tourism Whistler.

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