Coastal First Nations Dance Festival fired up for female performances

By Kristi Alexandra

The 10th annual Coastal First Nations Dance Festival is bringing indigenous performers from across Canada and as far as the pacific rim to Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA) this week.

Organized by the Dancers of Damelahamid, an indigenous dance company based in West Vancouver, the festival brings diverse cultural traditions to the stage from February 28 to March 5.

“We proudly mark 10 years of strengthening and preserving Indigenous culture and heritage with our largest and most diversified program to date,” says Festival Executive & Artistic Director Margaret Grenier.

“This anniversary truly recognizes 50 years of Indigenous dance revitalization made possible through the work of Dancers of Damelahamid. We strive to carry this legacy forward by continuing to play a vital role in the local arts community, building increasing awareness around First Nations’ rich cultural history.”

Signature evening performances, galas, festival stage performances and youth workshops, as well as monumental ceremonies to open and close the festival, are all on offer at the Dancers of Damelahamid website.

This season’s programming will showcase traditional and contemporary indigenous artistry. Below are our most anticipated female-fronted performances.

Dancers of Damelahamid

Artistic Director Margaret Grenier started the festival in 2008, and holds a Masters of Arts in Arts Education from SFU. Several performances by the company will be seen over the course of the festival.

Chesha7 iy lha mens

Translated “Mothers and Daughters”, this traditional BC dance group is led by a mother and daughter team.

Starr Muranko

Dancer/choreographer & Artistic Associate with Raven Spirit Dance. Presenting a contemporary work called “Spine of the Mother,” including two female performers. Catch the performance at the opening ceremony on Thursday, March 2, 5 to 9 p.m. at Great Hall & Galleries at MOA. Entrance included with UBC MOA admission

V’ni Dansi

Artistic Director Yvonne Chartrand is at the helm of the only company in the world producing traditional and contemporary Métis dance. Catch their performance on the Festival Stage on Saturday, March 4 at 1:30 p.m. Entrance included with UBC MOA admission


Seven-woman drum group from St. John’s, NL, makes their way to the West Coast. Known for their folk-infused, inspirational songs, Eastern Owl recently launched their first album, Not Quite Like You. Catch their performance on the Festival Stage on Saturday, March 4 at 1:30 p.m. Entrance included with UBC MOA admission

Jessica McMann

This Cree musician, hoop dancer and choreographer is also classically trained flutist, with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Calgary. Jessica is leading many of the youth education workshops. Find her at the Festival Stage on Sunday, March 5 at noon. Entrance included with UBC MOA admission. 


Kristi Alexandra is an unabashed wino and wannabe musician. Her talents include drinking an entire bottle of cabernet sauvignon, singing in the bathtub, and falling asleep.