Maawandoon – Bringing People Together to Honour Women

By Pat Forrest

The 4 AM in Thunder Bay Association was formed in 2010 by James Wilkinson during his first year of the multi-media program at Confederation College. “I was exposed to some of the very talented youth here in Northwestern Ontario and after some inquiries realized that there were not many programs or opportunities for the youth to gain experience, instruction or opportunities to perform,” he says. The name speaks to the four races of man, the four directions, and the four medicines of the Anishinaabe people. The “A” and the “M” stand for Anishinaabe and Maawandoon (“bring people together”). Wilkinson says that the name also alludes to helping people walk with inner strength.

In 2010, 4 AM staged a workshop featuring a well-known vocal coach and talent scout from Toronto. The event was such a success that the organizers continued providing opportunities for young people, hosting concerts and coffee houses, as well as putting on events to help the community. One such event was the first All the Girls Show (Kakina Kwesensag) in 2011, a showcase of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal female youth performers whose theme is honouring women everywhere.

This year’s show will feature Jamie Labrador (15), Sara Kanutski (14), Cassidy Houston (16), and Natasha Fisher (18) who will present a combination of individual music and collaborative offerings. The finale of the show will be a group performance of the new theme song.

This year’s show will be held on May 10 at the Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship Hall,129 Algoma Street. Doors open at 6:30 and the Show is from 7-9:00 pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. This show is supported by the Ontario Arts Council – Aboriginal Presenters of the North Funding Program.