WHITEHORSE, Canada, July 7 (Xinhua) -- More than 60 aboriginal artists from around Canada's Yukon territory have gathered in the capital city of Whitehorse for a festival that celebrates aboriginal art, culture and history.
The one-week-long Adaka Cultural Festival, which ends on Thursday, is now in its seventh year here on the shores of the Yukon River in Canada's far north. The Yukon territory is home to 14 different aboriginal groups, which are also known here as First Nations people.
The word Adaka means "coming to light" in the local Tutchone language and painter Mary Caesar said her art has certainly brought light into her life.
"This is my favorite painting because it depicts a native woman, and she's carrying her baby and she has the baby using her baby belt, and the mountains in the background. And it kind of... for me, it kind of reconnects me to the land," Caesar told Xinhua.
Caesar started painting as a young girl in a government residential school in northern British Columbia. Those now-defunct schools were often in violent environments that tore aboriginal children away from their parents.
"The residential school system devastated my life, and I'm still on this healing journey, so my artwork helps me on my healing journey," she added.
The co-founder director of the Adaka Festival Charlene Alexander said the event was a celebration of the diverse aboriginal cultures of the Yukon territory.
"Here in Canada, like many places in the world, the aboriginal culture was almost lost because of residential schools and many situations, and right now across our country, aboriginal people are really trying to reclaim and revive their culture, and it's extremely important," Alexander said.
Wayne Carlick is an expert carver of war canoe paddles. He said his ancestors have made canoe paddles for hundreds of years. In the past, they were shaped for long ocean trips, and they also had to be effective as weapons to defend their precious cargos.
Carlick now teaches youngsters to carve smaller versions of the paddles that are used during dance ceremonies. He says learning to carve these paddles is central to his community's past and future.
"The other part of it is being able to pass skills down to our young people so they may be able to carry on, ...be able to make paddles that our people have been making for hundreds of years. That's a skill that pretty much not a whole lot of people can actually do."
Many believe that the festival not only provides a chance for members of the public with the chance to buy works of art directly from aboriginal artists, but also provides a cultural bridge between the past and the future generations of the many aboriginal peoples and communities here in the North. Enditem