Sunday, July 12, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday July 10, 2009

Previewing some dancers preparations, Zoning bylaws get a makeover and DFO gets an F from the Skeena River conservancy, some of the highlights of the Friday Daily News.

GETTING READY FOR THE DANCE-- Friday's front page headline story features a look at the local Unglis Haida Dancers with a look at the training sessions that they have embarked on this year as well as the preparations that they made prior to their appearance at the recent appearance of the RCMP Musical ride in Prince Rupert (see story below)

The City's bylaw's get an update, with City Hall preparing to take the fine tuning to pulbic debate (see story here)

The Skeena River Conservancy offers up it's annual examination of the local fishery and has provided DFO with a less than favourable review and mark for this summer. (see story here)

The Sports section looks back into time with a piece on the 1938 Fraser Street Tigers basketball team.

Front page, headline story:

By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Friday, July 10, 2009
Page one

On a sunny evening in Prince Rupert the Kwe Unglis Haida Dancers were dancing to a different tune.

The dance group has been learning some new dances under the leadership of Margaret Adkins. One of the songs is the Paddle Song, created by Adkins and her mother, who has since passed on.

The story, said Adkins, is about a chief in the village who is going to hold a potlatch and invites people from all over.

"He calls and they respond, coming in dancing," Adkins said. "It's a fairly new dance for the group."

Normally the dancers practice once a week but thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, the group has rented a building on Fraser St. and has been meeting two times a week. Because the sun was shining Wednesday, they decided to take their dance practice outside.

Besides, they were performing for the opening of the RCMP Musical Ride in Prince Rupert and wanted to see how they succeeded outdoors.

Four-year-old Lindsay Gosnell tried out the Raven Dance for the first time and smiled proudly as she gracefully moved. bending at the knee and weaving her arms under her button blanket.

After the dance practice was finished, Adkins, Jennifer Davidson and Bill White drummed and led the dancers across the street and back: into the building. Smiling, the group paused on the front steps for a photograph before going inside.

The Canada Council grant has made it possible for the group to participate in three workshops. So far they've had one on cedar bark weaving, where each dancer made a headdress. Now they are immersed in button blankets. The third workshop will focus on singing.

Blanket making has engaged everyone with the children tracing designs while the adults sew the blankets.

Adkins has been sharing her blanket making talents with the group and has also made a button blanket, tunic and dancing apron for 20-yearold Freeman Brown.

At some point, he plans to paint a blanket for himself, but at this point Adkins felt he needed his regalia.

Showing off a paddle he painted, Brown said he's been learning from Tsimshian artist Morgan Green. ''I'm hoping to go to art school in the fall," he added.

Constance Eby is a leader in the dance group and is also Adkins's granddaughter.

Eby is a Raven, but said she'd made herself sew an Eagle blanket as well.

"I thought if I only made one for myself I'd figure that was enough. Instead I'm pushing myself."

After giving a tour of the space, which they've rented since the middle of May for three months, Eby explained that the group has been very inspired.

"We've been getting together to practice for years - once a week - and sharing a bit of news. Having this space and sitting here and being creative has led to the creation of the Paddle Song and others songs.

Adkins will be teaching the group a new song called Passing of the Spirit that honours the ancestors that died during the small pox epidemic.

"The people gather in the evening and they are happy because there is no sickness and disease," she said of the dance. "When people become sick they are wondering why the spirits have sent the evil one among them and everyone he touches become sick. We lost thousands of our people."

Toward the middle of the dance, one dancer comes in wearing his blanket inside out and as he touches other people, they go down. For a moment the dancers stop. Everything is quiet, and then there is the sound of a baby crying.

“A young woman has given birth to a child and people are happy because she has survived. At the end of the dance everyone is happy because they know we are survivors."

Adkins, at 73 years of age, described herself as 'crabby' when she was instructing the dancers, but there's obviously a lot of respect shown to her by the group. She was born in Haida Gwaii to Connie and Ivan Adams but moved to Prince Rupert at the age of three when her father joined the Armed Forces .

“I never went to residential school. My mom and Dad did and they decided my brother Ivan and I would not go. I'm not quite sure how my mom worked that out." Adkins has also enjoyed the workshops. "We do a lot of story telling and there's a lot of laughter," she said.

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