The Adäka Cultural Festival … celebrating our diverse First Nations arts and culture

The 2018 Adäka Cultural Festival is just around the corner! The annual multi-disciplinary arts and culture festival will be held this summer from June 29 to July 5 at its idyllic location, the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre located on Whitehorse’s beautiful waterfront.

Adäka stands for “coming into the light,” in the Southern Tutchone language, and continues to encompass just that. The Festival is dedicated to shining a light on the original and imaginative spirit of the Yukon’s First Nations, while celebrating and revitalizing arts and culture. It also encourages artists and youth to come together in a shared celebration of heritage, community and opportunity.

The Adäka Cultural Festival first launched in 2011 with a vision to preserve and foster the development of the Yukon’s diverse and unique First Nations art, culture and heritage. The festival is now recognized on a worldwide scale as an iconic festival, which includes both national and international artists.

This year, Adaka shines a light on the art and culture of the circumpolar regions, providing a unique cross-cultural experience for artists and visitors alike. With this year’s circumpolar theme, artists will be coming from Alaska, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Nunavut, Nova Scotia, Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Russia, Norway and Sweden, to participate in the weeklong event.

The festival creates unique networking opportunities for both local and visiting artists of all sorts and is also a wonderful place to exchange ideas, knowledge and skills.

The festival encourages and includes both Elder and youth participation and workshops, allowing traditional Indigenous knowledge to be passed on to future generations, while empowering the following generations to carry forward their heritage and stay connected with their culture in a modern-day setting.

This year, over 50 Indigenous hands-on workshops will be offered and open to the public, in the festival program, allowing participants to learn and develop different techniques from various Indigenous arts. The art workshops have been included in the festival since its origin and they are most definitely recognized as a highlight of the annual festival.

Other highlights that will be featured during the weeklong cultural event are the diverse Indigenous performing artists who will showcase a range of talents, some incorporating both their historic and modern-day culture. This will include performances of traditional dancing and drumming, rock, folk, fiddling, country gospel, contemporary music, comedy and storytelling.

On top of that, every year the festival creates an art gallery and gift shop, which allows artists—both local and guest—to exhibit their masterpieces and sell their work to fellow festival participants, visitors and art lovers.

Other aspects of this year’s festival program will include free and fun activities for children, “won’t-want-to-miss” ticketed events, film screenings, artist collaboration, arts and cultural demonstrations and community events!

To kick off the week, the Adäka Cultural Festival will be hosting an Opening Ceremony on the first day, Friday June 29. Opening the festival will be the striking Diyet & The Love Soldiers, followed by a reception and refreshments.

Some of the daily programming will consist of, and feature, The Traditional Knowledge Series, The Stories We Tell, Indigenous Film Series, Artist Talks and main-stage programming. Also, June 30 is the Adäka Festival traditional dance day, which will end with a free community feast that will offer delicious Arctic char chowder to all who attend.

On July 1, the Adäka Festival will be celebrating Canada Day, Old Crow-style. There will be live music, traditional dancing, storytelling, artist demonstrations and workshops running all day long. It is a day meant for the whole family, filled with fun activities, a little square dancing and a lot of jigging!

One of the ticketed events you won’t want to miss is the much-anticipated Adäka Fashion Show, Dà Ze Tsàn, (From our Hearts). It will be held this year on Thursday July 5 at the Kwanlin Dün Centre. The show will consist of both local and circumpolar designers and will incorporate and showcase an array of Indigenous fashion and regalia featuring both modern and traditional designs. Another won’t-want-to-miss ticketed event is a folk-pop band from Greenland. Nive and the Deer Children will be performing on June 30 and will feature rising star, Aasvia (from Pangnirtung, Nunavut), as their opener.

The Adäka Cultural Festival is hosted by the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association (YFNCT). YFNCT is a not-for-profit organization that has been continuously devoted to growing, promoting and celebrating strong and sustainable Yukon First Nations arts, culture and tourism sectors.

All Adäka events will take place at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. The majority of the festival events are free! However, featured evening performances are ticketed … so be sure to get your tickets as there is so much to see.

If you are interested in becoming involved in this year’s Adäka Cultural Festival, there are still volunteer opportunities available. Registration is online at For more details or to download the festival program, visit

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