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Alberta singers, hoop dancer to bring message of reconciliation to 2018 Olympics


Three Alberta artists will bring messages of healing, welcome and reconciliation to the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea. 

Wendy Walker and Dawn von Armin are the Cree a cappella group Reconciliation.

The duo, along with Alexander First Nation hoop dancer Dallas Arcand Jr., are headed to Pyeongchang as part of Alberta’s cultural delegation at the Games.

“Alberta will be very proud they sent us,” Walker said. “I’m feeling really blessed right now.”

Wendy Walker and Dawn von Armin perform a welcome song at a space for welcoming Syrian refugees to Calgary. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The performance will be an opportunity to bring Indigenous culture to the world stage, said Walker.

“We’re more than something in a book, that’s on TV,” she said. “We are more than beads and feathers.”

Performing on a world stage isn’t new for Walker. She’s toured internationally, has sang for the United Nations and several prime ministers. But performing at the Olympics will be a different way of realizing a dream she had as a child.

“When I was 13, I was a really strong swimmer, and at that time I thought maybe I could get to the Olympics. That particular dream, the athlete part, never worked out,” she said with a laugh. “But now as an Indigenous artist, it’s still a dream. That dream just looks different.”

Bringing gifts of medicine pouches

A strong grounding and knowledge that her ancestors will be with her for the performance helps her feel prepared, said Walker.  She will open the show with a welcome song, and will bring medicine pouches, a traditional gift. 

And she’s hoping to introduce the set in a special way.

“I’m hoping to be able to introduce my set in Korean … we’ll see how this tongue tries to wrap around their beautiful words,” she said. 

Dallas Arcand Jr., left, performs with his father. (Dallas Arcand Jr./Supplied)

The 30-minute set will close with a hoop dance by Arcand Jr., who is the son of three-time world champion Dallas Arcand Sr. 

The 20-year-old performed alongside his father at the 2012 London Games. Now, he’s got his dad’s legacy to live up to in his solo performance.

“He’s set the bar for me, he expects me to go past him,” Arcand said, adding he’s not too worried.

“I know I’m young, but I’ve prepared growing up for this.”

Arcand said the hoop dance he’s performing is a healing dance, and he’s hoping to bring that message to attendees.

“It’s time to move forward, time to overcome grudges,” Arcand said.



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