This year’s edition of the First People’s Festival is aiming to shed light on the often overlooked, sometimes shunned topic of homosexuality.

The featured film Back to the Circle is about the affirmation of two-spirited people from both sexes. Baron Chief Moon is a biography that explores the way we look at Aboriginal sexuality and use those differences to shape the way we live.

“For him, being two-spirited is not only about sexual orientation, but it’s a way of life, a perspective that helps him in his creation,” said Festival Director Andre Dudemaine.

“It’s also a way for him to connect with his own First Nation’s tradition.”

The gay and lesbian film festival Image-1- Nation will also be screening these important works.

“It will help to enlighten people and see the realities of First Nations communities that we don’t always hear about,” said Dudemaine. “This [gay programming] is something that is really strong and it’s something happening now, so we have to take note of it and put it in our programming. It was long overdue and I’m happy the subject has come to the forefront.” The schedule for these films had not been finalizedas of press time.

The First People’s Festival gives Aboriginal artists a showcase for their videos, films and visual arts. It’s always very interesting and this year is no exception.

Put on by Terres en Vues/Land Insights, the 2007 edition will run from June 10 to 21 and is sure to be a hit with all ages.

Starting this year, there will be a special outdoor presentation for kids in collaboration with APTN. The afternoon of Friday, June 15, will see characters Mikuan and Ashini and Shanpiap take the stage and come to life. Based on Innu stories and shot in the Huron village, these loveable little guys communicate in French and Innu and are seen as an important way for Innu youngsters to learn and retain their language.

After a one-year hiatus, the Rez White and Blues show is back! After being ditched at the last second by the broadcaster last year, the festival will be concentrating on a smaller venue, O Patro Vys Hall, and the party will be spread out over two days, June 12 and 13.

This year’s Rez show will honour the godmother of Aboriginal film, Alanis Obomsawin. A sextet of musicians will be performing and re-working songs starting her film about the 1990 Oka crisis, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance to her latest, Waban-Aki: People from where the sun rises.

“It is a show that will honour Alanis’ films and emphasis very good music that has been inspired by Aboriginal realities,” Dudemaine told the Nation at his Montreal office. “Most of the score has been, in effect hidden or lost in the film. Now with a new orchestration we will be able to enjoy the music directly.

Composers, Francis Grandmont and Claude Vendette will lead the charge with other well-known Québécois musicians.

“Our festival isn’t only about Aboriginal artists, it’s about Aboriginal culture and the way it reaches other people and inspires them to bring something to Aboriginal culture,” said Dudemaine. “It’s a phenomenon that we want to showcase.

Inuit rocker chick Lucie Idlout will round out the night. Her raspy voice and her sexy style are sure to be a hit with the boys in the audience – and the ladies as well.

For history buffs, the June 21st Aboriginal Day celebrations on Mont Royal should not be missed. The festival is bringing together officials from the three levels of government as well as the Assembly of First Nations to celebrate the Great Peace of Montreal signed in 1701.

Kondiaronk Belvedere, a Huron Chief at the time, was instrumental in bringing the peace to light. The ceremony will be held in an area of the park named after him for his efforts.

For those of you who like poetry, you’re in for a big treat! There will be a poetry battle between French poets José Acquelin, originally from France, and her Innu counterpart, Joséphine Bacon on June 15 at Café I’Utopik.

Through the inspiration from the other, they will trade barbs, or poems in this case, in a creative exchange that will foster new understandings between the poets and their audience.

One Man show: Jean Pierre Pelchat: Polemic watercol-ors loosely tells the story, through various works of art, of the Cree state of mind before and after the two large agreements signed with Quebec. Pelchat, who comes from Chisasibi, is one of the highlights of the festival.

“It’s really modern,” said Dudemaine. “He represents a lot of 1950s posters and comic books. He warns people that we have to take care of what we are and what we may become.

“It’s very Cree, being strong with conviction, but always telling it tranquilly, not shouting it out, but softly and intelligently,” he continued. “We are really happy to have him in our program this year.”

Pelchat’s work will be showcased at the Canadian Guild of Crafts June 11 – July 11.

“I wanted to express my point of view and my ideas about the Crees and what is happening to them and their beloved lands,” said Pelchat. “We Cree have been so flooded with new technology that we run the risk of drowning in it.”

For more information on the festival visit