Qu’Appelle Valley Squaredancers bring energy and education to Tapestrama

Photo by Marjorie Roden. The Qu’Appelle Valley Squaredancers perform during Tapestrama on Saturday, Sept. 24.

The Qu’Appelle Valley Squaredancers looked to educate as well as entertain when they took to the Carlton Comprehensive High School Cafetorium stage for Tapestrama.
The energetic group draws dancers from all over Saskatchewan. Dance troupe leader Modeste McKenzie said they’re always looking to teach people about the history of traditional Metis dance, and the best way to do that is give a performance people enjoy watching.
“At the bare minimum, we brought some more people some joy today,” McKenzie said. “We were out there working really hard, sweating away. Our number one goal is to bring joy, and to bring energy, into the room.
“Secondly, we want to educate and promote the awareness of Metis culture and Indigenous culture to Tapestrama, so I hope (attendees) enjoyed themselves.”
The troupe includes dancers from Pelican Narrows, Green Lake, La Ronge, Muscowpetung First Nation, and Muskoday First Nation.
Their dances cover much of Canada’s post-colonial history, developing once some of the Europeans and the First Nations people created a new nation on Canadian soil: the Metis Nation, which was created on the prairies and spread across Canada.
“Up on stage, we performed the Red River Jig, which is a traditional Metis dance,” said McKenzie.
“I just wanted to explain and educate a little bit about the dance and the culture. How the Metis Nation was created was very similar to how the Red River Jig came to be. The creation of the Metis Nation and the Red River Jig are parallel to each other.”
There are some misconceptions about the Red River Jig in terms of its origins. As McKenzie explained, “a lot of people in modern, contemporary jigging see the taps on the shoes. They feel it’s like shuffling, or like tap dancing or clogging. 
“There’s a close relation to the Red River Jig and Pow-wow moves. I think that connection is lost on a lot of people.”
The dance troupe was extremely busy, as the Tapestrama performance was their third over a 24 hour period. They performed at new Metis Nation regional office opening in Prince Albert, then travelled to Saskatoon for another performance before coming back to Prince Albert for Tapestrama.