Spence Tradition


Ryan Spence (age 13) has been fiddling for 7 years. Clarissa Spence (age 11) has been jigging and dancing for 7 years as well. Influenced by their grandparents and inspired by a long line of Métis fiddlers, they started their entertainment career 2 years ago. Ryan has a passion for playing fast-paced reels and breakdowns that keep his sister flying around the stage. Ryan is also fluent in French and communicates effectively to a Francophone audience. When entertaining at a school event, they teach the students to embrace their personal culture and also remember to appreciate the culture that other people offer. They embrace the opportunity to teach their audience basic jigging techniques as well as anecdotes about Métis culture so that they can continue the Spence Tradition. Their goals for the future are to serve as ambassadors for the Métis culture, bringing hope and encouragement to others, especially youth.

Spence Tradition has developed a 30-50 minute program which is an excellent tool to celebrate Louis Riel Day, Cultural Days or Indigenous Day while helping elementary and middle school students learn about the Métis culture. Their show features Métis style fiddling and jigging, including the Red River Jig, Louis Riel Reel and their specialty - The Sash Dance. They engage the audience with commentary -- explaining their style of dress (the Métis sash, dance outfit, shoes), demonstrating different types of Métis fiddle music and a variety of dances. They also touch on the significance of Louis Riel who supported the rights and freedoms not only for Métis people, but for all people. They teach students to appreciate and respect cultural differences while encouraging their audience to take pride in their personal heritage. A special component that is popular at schools is the audience participation. They spend about 15-20 minutes guiding the students step by step how to do the Red River Jig. Students respond enthusiastically to the teaching component no matter what size they may be – from 30 students to 600 plus.

Spence Tradition has entertained at the Cultural Stage at Aboriginal Day Live, the Teddy Bears' Picnic, Asham Stomperfest, the St Pierre Jolys Sugaring Off Festival and more. Ryan and Clarissa have won gold medals from the Ron King Memorial Fiddle Contest (2016), and Clarissa has a gold medal in jigging from Festival du Voyageur (2015). They have played live on NCI FM, 680 CJOB and a winter special on Shaw TV.