Music, business mix at O’Siem Festival

Langford singer-songwriter Brandyn James

Langford singer-songwriter Brandyn James

Susan Aglukark’s song gives name to festival, she’ll perform Fri.-Sat.

By Sam Van Schie

News staff

Part business trade show, part cultural event – this weekend’s O’Siem Spirit Festival is about bringing people together on the West Shore.

The free festival opens Friday (Feb. 11) at Eagle Ridge Arena in Langford’s City Centre Park. More than 80 display booths will be set up by local businesses and community organizations, and an artisans’ market will span another 20 tables.

There will be a kids zone with face painting and activities, while a stage will feature local musicians and artists, as well as workshops.

Gerry St. Cyr, facility operator at City Centre Park and John Selkirk of Capital Festivals, who organized the B.C. Day Festival last year, are organizing the event.

“I wanted to bring local businesses together, but with a unique spin,” St. Cyr said.

Selkirk said the event will build on the success of the Westhills B.C. Day festival he helped bring to City Centre Park last year.

The O’Siem festival is one of nearly 50 spirit events happening across the province this month with support from the Olympic legacy fund. Selkirk expects 8,000 to 10,000 people to attend the weekend event.

The announcement of a $50,000 donation from the province to the festival came in mid-November, leaving little time to get people on board. The community didn’t disappoint.

“I was overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to be involved,” Selkirk said. “It just kept snowballing. We completely sold out trade show tables.”

The trade show will have displays by B.C. Hydro, CRD parks, recreational clubs and businesses. The West Shore Chamber of Commerce will have several booths dedicated to community initiatives such as Solar Colwood, the Hive, and Beyond the Blue Box recycling.

“People can come out and discover how much is going on in their community,” said Chamber president Dan Spinner. “We expect this will be the first of many trade shows to come.”

Some of the cultural highlights of the weekend include blues guitarist David Gogo closing out Friday night with three sets beginning at 7 p.m. and Victoria’s 100-piece Gettin’ Higher Choir, squeezing onto the stage at noon Saturday.

Inuit folk singer Susan Aglukark is here from Ontario to be part of the festival. The event was named after her inspirational 1990s breakout single “O’Siem”, which is also a Coast Salish word meaning “a welcoming of honoured guests.”

Aglukark will take the stage Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Many young emerging artists will also be part of the festivities, including fiddler Sarah Tradewell, and singer-songwriters Karly Summers and Brandyn James.

For James, a Grade 10 Belmont secondary school student, the opportunity to get exposure alongside larger names is an important part of developing his career. He also played at the B.C. Day festival.

“I want to be a musician for life, so anytime I can play in front of a couple hundred people and get my name out, that’s not something I would pass up,” he said.

The festival winds up at 4 p.m. Sunday. For a full schedule visit

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