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How Indigenous communities are using social media to stay connected – CTV News Winnipeg



Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Indigenous people from across Canada have been sharing healing dances and songs on social media.

One of the biggest calls to action was for women jingle dress dancers to post videos. In an interview with CTV News, Pine Creek Ojibway Elder Barbra Nepinak said the dance came from the wisest elders, and the original jingle dress dancer was a woman named Maggie White from White Fish Bay, Ont.

“The jingle dress is known as a healing dance and it came through a vision and that lady that had that vision shared it,” Nepinak said.

Nepinak said an adult dress should have 365 cones to represent each day of the year.

“You’re supposed to hold your head up. You’re supposed to look forward like in life you look forward in life, right. What you are doing is art,” she said. “If we all, us jingle dress dancers, if we all stood and prayed and danced for our people, people will get better.”

She said cultural sharing is a way for people to take care of each other.

Tania Black Plume is a member of Kainai First Nation in southern Alberta and has been dancing at pow-wows all her life. She said she looks forward to pow-wow season every year. When she watches the little children dance she said it lifts her spirits and makes her happy.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting group gatherings, pow-wows have been postponed or cancelled. The Manito Ahbee Pow-wow in Winnipeg was postponed. Which means Black Plume’s family can’t get together or travel with friends for the dance. She posted on Facebook she would be holding a special dance for her daughter who started dancing last year.

“With all the self-isolation and everything that’s going on, I wanted to do something to bring families and kids together,” said Black Plume.

She got 50 entries from across Canada; with some coming from the U.S. Black Plume said she had only been expecting between 10 and 20 kids to join.

“Some of their outfits were amazing,” said Black Plume.

Black plume said this time of isolation is an opportunity to spend time showing children traditional Indigenous ways, such as the jingle dress dance.

“We’ve lost so many of our traditions already and I think it’s really important for us to try and keep them alive. And the only way we can keep them alive is by teaching out young ones,” said Black Plume.

That’s a belief awarding winning Cree/Salish singer Fawn Wood, from Saddle Lake, Alta., echoes.

“It goes with that generational teaching and that generational knowledge – that genetic knowledge that we all carry. It’s something that withstood time and memorial and has also withstood everything that us as Indigenous people have faced,” said Wood.

Wood and her husband Dallas Washkahat started hosting online singing opportunities in March. She said it’s been amazing to watch people come together through social media.

“People share amazing stories about how their families look forward to this every weekend,” she said. “It also promotes self-isolation, and that’s what we are trying to encourage and entertain people while they are at home.”

They have had 18 evenings of round dances so far and have had people tune in from all over the world including New Zealand, Hawaii and Germany. Wood added the virtual round-dance page has also allowed graphic artists and video editors to get involved and use their own skills.

She said their friend Tito Gomez is editing every episode for those who couldn’t tune and put them on the Songs for the Nation YouTube page. Wood said it also involves special guests from around the world, including Canadian actress Jennifer Podemski and Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas.

“It’s really beautiful because everyone is volunteering their time just for the cause of connecting everybody and uplifting everybody,” she said, adding she believes it’s important the sound of the drum, dance and songs be heard around the world.

“It’s been medicine for us to be able to practice it and see it, not just us as an Indigenous people, but as a whole human race,” Wood said. “We’re being strong and resilient for everybody. ”

In addition to the virtual round dance session, they also hosted singing contests. Wood said she wanted to honour female singers and called it the “Song Bird Special” and receive 75 submissions.

“Over 75 ladies from all over shared their voices like that,” she said. “It makes me feel good to know we are contributing to others to help them feel good in a time like this.”

From singing contests, to other dance specials like Black Plume’s, or those posting prayers, the indigenous community has used social media to connect to each other and others to share the love of their diverse culture. 

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Britney Spears calls recent documentaries about her ‘hypocritical’



LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pop singer Britney Spears spoke out on Tuesday about recent documentaries about her life and career, calling them “hypocritical” because they rehash her personal problems while criticizing the media for reporting them the first time.

Walt Disney Co’s FX network and The New York Times released “Framing Britney Spears” in February. The documentary examined the singer’s meteoric rise to fame as a teenager, the ensuing media scrutiny and her widely publicized breakdown.And this month, the BBC released “The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship” in Britain. It will debut in the United States and Canada starting May 11 via the BBC Select streaming service.

In an Instagram post, Spears did not name either documentary but said “so many documentaries about me this year with other people’s takes on my life.”

“These documentaries are so hypocritical … they criticize the media and then do the same thing,” she added.

In March, Spears said she cried for two weeks after watching part of “Framing Britney Spears”.

The BBC said in a statement on Tuesday that its documentary “explores the complexities surrounding conservatorship with care and sensitivity.”

“It does not take sides and features a wide range of contributors,” the statement added.

A New York Times spokesperson declined to comment.

Spears, who shot to fame in 1998 with the hit “Baby One More Time,” is in a court battle seeking to replace her father as her conservator. He was appointed to the role in 2008 after she was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment.

Her fans have shown their support on social media under the hashtags #We’reSorryBritney and #FreeBritney. Spears is scheduled to speak to a Los Angeles court in June.

In her Instagram post, which included a video of herself dancing, Spears said that “although I’ve had some pretty tough times in my life … I’ve had waaaayyyy more amazing times in my life and unfortunately my friends … I think the world is more interested in the negative.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Grammy organizers change rules after allegations of corruption



LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The organizers of music’s Grammy Awards on Friday announced an end to the so-called “secret” committees that have led to allegations that the highest honors in the industry are open to rigging.

The Recording Academy said that nominations for the next Grammy Awards in January 2022 will be selected by all of its more than 11,000 voting members, instead of by committees of 15-30 industry experts whose names were not revealed.

The Academy was slammed last year when Canadian artist The Weeknd got zero Grammy nominations, even though his critically acclaimed album “After Hours” was one of the biggest sellers of 2020.

The Weeknd, in a Twitter post last November, said “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”

The Recording Academy said in a statement on Friday that the changes were significant and were made “to ensure that the Grammy Awards rules and guidelines are transparent and equitable.”

Allegations that the Grammy nominations process is tainted were made in a legal complaint filed in early 2019 by the former chief executive of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan.

At the time, the Academy dismissed as “categorically false, misleading and wrong” Dugan’s claims that its members pushed artists they have relationships with. Dugan was later fired.

American pop star Halsey, also shut out of the 2021 Grammys, last year called the nominations process “elusive” and said she was “hoping for more transparency or reform.”

Former One Direction singer Zayn Malik called in March for an end to “secret committees.”

“I’m keeping the pressure on & fighting for transparency & inclusion. We need to make sure we are honoring and celebrating ‘creative excellence’ of ALL,” Malik tweeted hours ahead of the 2021 Grammy Awards ceremony.

The Recording Academy on Friday also said it was adding two new Grammy categories – for best global music performance, and best Latin urban music album – bringing to 86 the total number of Grammy Awards each year.


(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Movie theaters face uncertain future



By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Maryo Mogannam snuck into the Empire theater in San Francisco with his older cousins to watch “Animal House” when he was 14. He watched most of the James Bond movies at the historic art house and took his wife there on some of their first dates.

The cinema, which had been showing movies since the silent film era, served notice in February that it was permanently closing because of the impact of COVID-19. The marquee is now blank, and cardboard and paper cover the box office window.

“It’s kind of like losing a friend,” said Mogannam, now 57, who owns a retail shipping outlet near the theater, which had been renamed the CineArts at the Empire.

As vaccinated Americans emerge from their homes, they also may find their neighborhood theater is not there to greet them.

An eight-cinema chain in New England said it will not reopen. The same fate hit a Houston art house beloved by director Richard Linklater and, in a shock to Hollywood, more than 300 screens run by Los Angeles-based Pacific Theatres. That includes the Cinerama Dome, a landmark that hosted several red-carpet movie premieres.

Following a year of closures, theaters face deferred rent bills plus media companies’ focus on drawing customers to streaming services. Up to one-fourth of the roughly 40,000 screens in the United States could disappear in the next few years, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

The National Association of Theatre Owners rejects that estimate, spokesman Patrick Corcoran said, noting that similar dire warnings accompanying the advent of television and the switch to digital screens never came to pass.

Hollywood filmmakers want cinemas to thrive.

“It’s the only place where the art dominates,” said “Avatar” director James Cameron. “When you watch something on streaming, the other people in the room with you are welcome to interject, to pause to go to the bathroom, to text.”

At theaters, “we literally make a pact with ourselves to go and spend two to three hours in a focused enjoyment of the art.”

“For 300 people to laugh and cry at the same time, strangers, not just your family in your house, that’s a very powerful thing,” said Chloe Zhao, Oscar-nominated director of best picture nominee “Nomadland.”

At the Academy Awards on Sunday, the movie industry will “make a case for why cinema matters,” producer Stacey Sher said. While acknowledging the hardship of the pandemic, “we also have to fight for cinema and our love of it and the way it has gotten us through things,” she said.

About 58% of theaters have reopened in the United States and Canada, most restricted to 50% capacity or less. The biggest operators – AMC, Cinemark and Cineworld – make up roughly half the overall market.

Industry leaders project optimism, forecasting a big rebound after restrictions ease and studios unleash new blockbusters.

Coming attractions include a new Bond adventure, the ninth “Fast & Furious” film, a “Top Gun” sequel and several Marvel superhero movies.

“Avatar 2,” Cameron’s follow-up to the highest-grossing film of all time, is set to debut in December 2022. Some box office analysts predict 2022 ticket sales will hit a record.

Supporters point to late March release “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which brought in roughly $48.5 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices over its first five days, even though audiences could stream it on HBO Max.

“That was a big win for the entire industry,” said Rich Daughtridge, president and chief executive of Warehouse Cinemas in Frederick, Maryland.

But near- and long-term challenges loom, particularly for smaller cinemas.

Theaters are negotiating with landlords over back rent. A federal aid program was delayed due to technical problems.

Plus, media companies are bringing movies to homes sooner. Executives say streaming is their priority, pouring billions into programming made to watch in living rooms as they compete with Netflix Inc.

Most at risk are theaters with one or two screens, Wedbush Securities’ Pachter said. He said his best guess is between 5,000 and 10,000 screens could go permanently dark in coming years.

“I think we’ll see a gradual decline in the number of screens,” Pachter said, “just like we’ve seen a gradual decline in the number of mom-and-pop grocery stores and bookstores.”


(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Rollo Ross in Los Angeles, Alicia Powell in New York and Nathan Frandino in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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