Globally renowned electronic music duo, The Halluci Nation, is set to light up the stage at London’s Western Fair on Friday, kicking off an Indigenous music and artisan festival aimed at raising money to restore the only remaining structure of a former area residential school.
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Globally renowned electronic music duo, The Halluci Nation, is set to light up the stage at London’s Western Fair District on Friday, kicking off an Indigenous music and artisan festival aimed at raising money to restore the only remaining structure of a former area residential school.

The Ottawa-based group, formerly known as A Tribe Called Red, will take a break from their tour to headline the three-day event organized by Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, London’s music tourism office and Western Fair District.
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Proceeds from the Gawii Wiikaa Ga-Nendimisii (Never Ever Forget Me) Music and Artisan Festival, running Friday through Saturday, will go toward a campaign to restore and convert a horse barn on the First Nation — the last remaining structure of the former Mount Elgin Industrial Residential School —  into a museum and interpretive centre.

“It’s always important to us to be playing for . . . events that support and represent our people,” said Ehren (Bear Witness) Thomas of the Cayuga First Nation.

“I wouldn’t say it’s like a mandate; it’s more than that,” he said. “It’s part of who we are.”

On top of that, bandmate Tim (2oolman) Hill added, Chippewas of the Thames and Six Nations of the Grand River – a First Nation near Brantford that also was home to one of Canada’s longest-running residential schools, The Mohawk Institute Residential School – have a long-standing relationship.

“Even support in that way is there,” said 2oolman, who is Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River. “Supporting nation to nation is super important.”

Attendees at Friday’s opening concert can expect to hear music drawn from various albums by the electronic powwow group that describes its sound as a combination of contemporary and Indigenous music. “Of course, with an emphasis on our latest album because that’s the latest, freshest stuff, but you’ll hear our stuff from across our career,” said Bear Witness.

The newest album, One More Saturday Night, is described as an homage to the Electric Pow Wow DJ night, a monthly club night in Ottawa that ran from 2007 until 2017 when the group became a duo.

The pair now introduces themselves under the name The Halluci Nation to reflect the evolution of their music. “It’s about starting new cycles. It’s about moving forward,” Bear Witness said.

“It’s not like we’ve left A Tribe Called Red behind. It’s just that we’ve moved into another phase of what that is.”

The Halluci Nation will be joined Friday by other big names, including hip-hop singer-songwriter and producer Jay (FastCloud) Smith, along with Julian Taylor, Boogey The Beat and Logan Staats. The line-up for the following days features Six Nations of the Grand River’s DJ Shub, Junkhouse, Digging Roots, Julian Taylor and Ruby Waters, among others.

In addition to performances, an Indigenous-led market showcasing traditional skills and art forms will fill up the Western Fair.

Attendees are encouraged to “listen to our stories that are in the form of music, made objects and in conversation,” said organizer Nancy Deleary, co-ordinator for the Anishinaabe’aadziwin department at Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

“We have a rich history and have many good things to share,” she said by email, adding visitors will have the chance to listen to knowledge holders, both the young and the elders.

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What: Gawii Wiikaa Ga-Nendimisii Music and Artisan Festival, a collaboration between Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, London’s Music Tourism and the Western Fair District

When: Friday, Nov. 18, 19 and 20

Where: Western Fair

Tickets: westernfairdistrict.com

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