‘Donny Parenteau: Colours of the Sash’ puts spotlight on Métis culture

If Donny Parenteau has his way, students visiting the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Wednesday will feel like they’ve stepped back in time.

The Prince Albert fiddler will be joined by a number of musical guests and cultural experts for “Donny Parenteau: Colours of the Sash”, which runs Wednesday and Thursday at the Rawlinson.

Local school children will have the show to themselves on Wednesday, followed by a public musical performance on Thursday. Parenteau said he hopes today’s students will learn something about where they come from when they take in Wednesday’s show.

“It just gives them an opportunity to stop where we are today, pause, and go back in time,” Parenteau said during a phone interview on Tuesday. “Let’s go ahead think about this for a second. This is what it used to be like. It wasn’t a matter of (thinking), ‘okay, I’m feeling cold, I’m going to go over to the thermostat and turn it up.’ No, you went outside and you chopped wood and you come back in and that’s what it was. It was survival, and this is what I hope they take away from that.”

Students will learn about traditional Métis food, trapping, the fur trade, and take part in the Voyager Games. In the afternoon, Parenteau has a musical concert scheduled to showcase some traditional Métis tunes.

“It’s very important to learn about where you come from before you move forward,” he explained. “It’s pretty tough to keep that forward path if you’re not sure where you come from.”

Thursday’s event will put more of a focus on Métis music. Parenteau has a collection of close friends, family members, and former students lined up to provide Prince Albert residents with a musical treat.

Parenteau said they can’t wait to get on stage.

“We’ve been on hiatus, basically, for two years,” he said. “Everyone has been cooped up in their homes. That’s just the way it was. This is a time now where it’s starting to be safer to come out, so I encourage anybody, if you don’t have a ticket yet, just get a ticket, come out, sit back, and enjoy the show. Let us do the entertaining. I guarantee you’re not going to be disappointed in what you see and hear.”

The list of performers includes Freddy and Sheila Pelletier, Roland Corrigal, The North Sound, Brian Sklar, Jersey Lamotte and Donny’s daughter, Julianna Parenteau.

Donny said he’s glad to see young musicians up on stage with well-established veterans, since it gives them an opportunity to grow and improve.

“I encourage my daughter and I encourage everyone at that age, if you get an opportunity to jump on stage and perform, that’s what it’s all about,” Donny said. “That’s why you’re taking the lessons, to get this opportunity, but it’s very rare for them to get these opportunities, and that’s why it’s important to me, because I remember what it was like when I first started.”

This is the first year since 2019 Parenteau has organized “Colours of the Sash”. He credited Karon Shmon and sponsors the Gabriel Dumont Institute for getting it started, and keeping it going despite going such a long time between shows.

Donny Parenteau: Colours of the Sash runs Wednesday and Thursday at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre. For tickets to Thursday’s show, visit the E.A. Rawlinson website, or call the box office at 306-765-1270.

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