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Adäka Cultural Festival returning to Whitehorse this summer

Two year hiatus due to COVID-19 set to end
Laura Grizzlypaws performs her bear dance during the Adäka Cultural Festival in Whitehorse on July 1, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

The Adäka Cultural Festival celebrates its 10th year in person this year with the theme “northern connections.”

Produced by the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association, the festival has worked since 2011 to deliver an event that showcases, celebrates and develops the Yukon’s Indigenous arts and culture scene.

This year’s festival set for June 29 to July 5 will include artists from across northern Canada and from countries around the North Pole: Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Finland. A total of 200 visual and performing artists are expected to contribute to this year’s festival.

More than 60 hours of performances and presentations will be held on two stages, one in the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre long house and the other in a tent along the Yukon River.

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The return to festival stages is long awaited, as the festival was not held in 2020, and it was postponed before ultimately being cancelled in 2021.

“We are beyond excited to welcome circumpolar guests as we gather, after a challenging two years, to honour our artists and cultures,” said Katie Johnson, Adäka Cultural Festival co-producer.

“Together we will deepen our northern relationships, celebrate our resiliency and spirit, and warm the hearts of our peoples.”

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Festival organizers have released a list of expected highlights. The June 29 opening ceremony will feature throat singing, dance and more with guest artists from across the circumpolar north performing alongside those from Canada.

Canada Day on the Adäka stage will be a community dance to performances by Gwich’in Dene and Métis fiddlers as well as Teechik Dancers from Old Crow.

Other stage shows include storytelling and performances of traditional drumming as well as electronic music and hiphop. The festival’s grand finale will be a contemporary Indigenous fashion show with designs from across the Arctic.

Off the festival’s stages, attendees will be able to see a variety of art galleries and exhibitions, interact with artists at work in a massive outdoor studio tent and participate directly in art workshops and free activities for children and youth.

Along with trying to drum up excitement for festival attendees, Adäka organizers are seeking volunteers for a variety of tasks. A volunteer crew will be needed from June 23 to July 7 for hospitality, set up and take down, transportation, logistics, front of house, security, gallery sales, COVID safety team, and more. Learn more at

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Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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