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Gathering celebrates the culture and the strength of Pacific Peoples

Similar history and concerns transcend geographic separation
One Wave Gathering celebrates the strengths and successes of North and South Pacific Peoples through song and dance. (Don Craig)

In a series of events stretching from Sept. 1 to 15, the Pacific Peoples Partnership will once again host a wave of events to celebrate and recognize the music, art, dance, food, and shared challenges facing the Indigenous populations of both the North and South Pacific Peoples.

“There is, of course, a great deal of cultural and language diversity between the people of the South Pacific and the Indigenous populations of the North Pacific, but this event highlights the fact that there are a lot of shared experiences and challenges facing all the groups,” said Andrea Clark, executive member of the Pacific Peoples Partnership and one of the organizers of the event.

“The one thing that we all have in common is that every group continues to cope with the results of colonization. I was born on Vanuatu which was colonized by both the English and the French and didn’t get their independence until 1980. We didn’t have the tragedy of residential schools, but we weren’t allowed passports and were not accepted as citizens of either colonial power,” Clark said.

“Another concern that we are especially focused on is the impact that climate change has had and continues to have on the Indigenous Pacific peoples of both the North and South Pacific.”

Clark points to the devastating effects in the North Pacific on the decline of salmon stocks caused, at least in part, by climate change and the wildfires that now affect all Indigenous populations.

“The rise of ocean levels is also having an effect, particularly on low-lying atolls, as people are losing the ability to live in their place of origin. It’s a really big deal for us,” Clark said.

“Add the extreme weather events that are becoming more common in all Pacific regions and it’s obvious that what we’re doing now is not the way to go.”

The common theme of One Wave Gathering events, however, goes beyond those concerns.

“We want to celebrate our strengths and successes. We do that through music and dance. We’ll have the Pearls of the South Pacific Dance group as well as several North Pacific Indigenous dance groups. There’ll be music and food and celebrations to highlight who we are and how we are similar, despite very different specific histories,” Clark said.

“If I had to sum it up, I’d point you to a phrase in the Bob Marley song, Redemption, where he says that we have to ‘emancipate ourselves from mental slavery’ and recognize our strength and potential.”

More information on One Wave Gathering events can be found at

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