For an organization that was founded in 1990, Terres en vue or Lands In Sight has grown faster than the Valdez oil spill spread. Its founding members, André Dudemaine, Daniel Corvee and Pierre Thibeault have much to be proud of as their dream to build bridges between nations has taken on a life of its own. Terres en vue is the driving force behind the First Peoples’ Festival and this festival made Montreal a meeting place for the indigenous peoples and their creativity in the arts June 10 through 21.

In all, 86 films from South, Central andNorthAmerica were shown at this festival to the delight of audiences.

The weather refused to cooperate this year, however. Thibeault was upset that the Saturday parade, a crowd favorite, had to be cancelled because of the rain. The rain eventually shut down the park for both Saturday and Sunday – where the festival grounds were — and native artisans packed up. Though some were disappointed Tim Whiskeychan from Waskaganish said he sold at least 50 of his tamarack decoys during the week and was pleased with that. Others who didn’t do so well still said they would be back next year. The importance of what the festival means in Quebec in terms of building bridges between Native and non-Natives touches us all.

The June 15 show – the Rez, White and Blues — took place at the Spectrum as usual. And again it was an event that won’t be forgotten. The stage was a great setting for the talent that would play: George Leech was a crowd favourite with his style of guitar picking that is reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughn. It had the house shaking and rocking to his beat. Jorane was on the cello. She was so animated I swear if she could she would’ve tossed that baby on her shoulder and played it fiddle jigging style. The crowd loved it. For a couple of songs she and drummer/singer Kathia Rock shared the stage. I think I fell in love at that point… with the music… of course… really. Eva Mark and Sivuaraapik did some throat singing. I am always fascinated with that talent. Of course the crowd favorite was that icon of French culture, Richard Desjardin. It was an event to remember. Each year just keeps getting better and better.

At the awards ceremony an old friend, Elisapie Issac received a $5,000 award to help her out with her project to make a music cd. I knew she was into films, and indeed she is working on one, but I didn’t realize she had excelled in other areas as well. In the Creative category for films, Randy Redroad’s The Doe Boy took first prize in the festival. The story is about Hunter, a young Metis for whom blood lies at the heart of a complex identity issue. He is of Cherokee descent on his mother’s side, and his father is white. His commitment to become a real hunter and honour his first name is thwarted by a serious health problem: he suffers from hemophilia. His overprotective mother tries to protect him. Nevertheless he tries to follow in the footsteps of his father, a proud hunter. But his inexperience and desire lead him to kill a doe rather than a buck, and his nickname “Doeboy” comes from this mistake.

The Rigoberta Menchu award for a film on community went to Shomitsi. Shomotsi is an elder of the Ashenika nation, living in the village of Apiwtxa, on the border of Pem and Brazil. He is widowed now, and spends most of his time teaching his grandchildren to farm and fish. He teaches them to harvest the coca leaf, a healing plant the Whites never learned to use properly. He shows them how to fish and repair their nets, make necklaces for pleasure and sale. He teaches them to harvest the manioc the local people use to brew beer. When the weekend comes round he puts on his traditional dress, his makeup and goes to play the flute and dance at the village feast. At the end of the month, he leaves on a dugout canoe to collect his pension cheque. Once his cheque is cashed, he has to leave almost all of it with local merchants. This film is an insight into his day-to-day life.

Alex Janvier, one of the Aboriginal Group of Seven painters, won the lifetime achievement award. Bom in 1935 as a member of the Cold Lake First Nation, he is often described as the first Native to use the language of modem art to tell his story. He would always sign his artwork with 267 (his band number) as a protest against being a ward of the state. He studied from 1956 to 1960 at the Alberta College of Arts.

His works are part of permanent collections all over the world. His first solo exhibition in Ottawa sold out in a few days and he was an adviser to the Indians of Canada Pavilion of Expo 67 in Montreal. At the show the artists lined the entry with copies of the treaties signed with Canada and marked in red the broken promises. Most of the treaties were heavily marked. For 267, this was not the first time he has received a lifetime achievement award, having received one from the Aboriginal Achievement Awards earlier this year. Today Janvier continues to protest against the government. According to treaty he is entitled to receive $5 a year from the government. Janvier never goes to the meeting where they hand out the money but patiently waits for the government to send a check which he staples to his wall with the rest of them. He hopes in some way he has given the accounting department of the Canadian government a headache.