The Drum is Calling Festival in numbers – City of Vancouver

by pmnationtalk on August 10, 2017454 Views

During nine days, close to 40,000 attendees enjoyed the diverse offerings of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis artists, performers, storytellers, chefs, dancers, drummers, artisans, filmmakers, designers, writers, activists, young leaders, and elders.

Notably, festival guests were equally represented by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Vancouverites and visitors, which demonstrates the engagement and interest of Vancouver’s diverse communities.

The Drum is Calling Festival took over an entire city block from July 22 to 30 in the heart of downtown. This signature event is part of our year-long Canada 150+ program that celebrates Indigenous art, culture, and history.

This event was produced in partnership with Vancouver’s three Host Nations:

  • Musqueam
  • Squamish
  • Tsleil-Waututh

The festival in numbers

Stages and venues

Drum is Calling took place over a period of nine days and it included seven stages and venues, among them the:

  • Main festival site at Larwill Park and adjacent streets
  • Queen Elizabeth Theatre lobby
  • Vancouver Playhouse theatre
  • Vancouver Public Library atrium

Opening ceremony

The event kicked off with 500 free pancakes for guests, followed by the official opening ceremony that included:

  • Five speakers
  • Two emcees
  • Three elders
  • 15 drummers representing the three Host Nations


The talent included more than 600 artists and performers who showcased traditional and cutting edge Indigenous art and music. The musical performances include 25 headline acts representing more than 15 musical genres from rhythm and blues and Inuktitut alt-country and throat singing, to roots, folk, classic, and modern rock to EDM, reggae, and hip hop. Ten filmmakers were responsible curating four feature films and 50 short films from the National Film Board’s Indigenous collection.

Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week

The festival hosted the first Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week that included:

  • Four fashion shows
  • 25 designers
  • 50 models
  • Two venues

The youngest designer featured at VIFW was 10-year-old Derrick Packer who is originally from Takla Lake First Nation, which is about 400 kilometre north of Prince George.

Cooking stage

Seven chefs shared recipes from Indigenous cultures from three different countries on the Cities Changing Diabetes cooking stage.

Information gathering and sharing

Canada 150+’s youth ambassador, Koru Joseph conducted more than 40 interviews while 15 elders shared their blessings and words with the audience. Knowledge carriers, including Eugene Crain, were on hand in the Kanata Village to share information about the diverse Indigenous structures from across the traditional territories in what is now called Canada.


Festival guests were greeted by 200 volunteers. Among those involved in the production the event were the eight apprentices from Canada 150+’s Aboriginal Production Apprentice Program. This program was launched with the support of eight employer partners:

  • Brandlive
  • Coastal Jazz and Blues
  • Gear Force
  • Great Northern Way Scene Shop
  • Riggit Services Inc.
  • Scene Ideas
  • Vancouver Folk Music Festival
  • Vancouver International Children’s Festival

Commissioned for the festival

The Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week and the Aboriginal Production Apprentice Program were a first. Also commissioned for the festival there were:

  • Four Indigenous murals created by 12 artists
  • 14 cedar carvings created by 11 Master Carvers
  • Hundreds of elementary and secondary students in 14 Vancouver schools
  • One new book, Tomson Highway’s From Oral to Written, which features 112 authors and editors from the first wave of Indigenous writing in Canada from 1980-2010

Daily activities

Daily activities include:

  • Participatory workshops
  • Demonstrations
  • Storytelling
  • A walking tour that shared stories to about 25 people each tour about the many Indigenous personalities, public artworks, and architecture in the urban environment in and around the Drum is Calling Festival site

Axis Theatre’s Th’owxiya – The Hungry Feast Dish presented two performances of the brand-new Theatre for Young Audiences play.

Final day

The Festival’s final day included the closing ceremony with:

  • Two emcees
  • Six speakers
  • Three elders
  • Close to 30 drummers and signers from the three Host Nations


The festival’s demonstration Pow Wow gathered:

  • 15 Pow Wow dancers
  • Three smoke dancers
  • One drum group

Sports Street

The two-day Sports Street included 40 basketball workshops, 40 teams were part of the 3-on-3 basketball tournament for a total of 132 players.

About Canada 150+

Our Canada 150+ is a year-long celebration of Indigenous culture and arts. The three signature events include:

  • Gathering of Canoes (July 14)
  • The Drum is Calling Festival (July 22-30)
  • Walk for Reconciliation (September 24)


Send To Friend Email Print Story

Comments are closed.

NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More