National Indigenous People’s Day festivities in Nazko included horseback rides. (Submitted photo)

National Indigenous People’s Day festivities in Nazko included horseback rides. (Submitted photo)

Nazko hosts first Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations

Chief Leah Stump said COVID-19 and residential school discoveries made hosting a necessity

It was a day of celebration and healing in the traditional territory of the Nazko First Nation on June 21. The nation was celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day inside their borders for the first time.

Chief Leah Stump said the nation usually joins in celebrations in Quesnel, but with COVID-19 restrictions, held their own celebration instead.

“Our community has had the second vaccine already, I think we’re pretty safe because we’re a close-knit community,” Stump said.

Live music, horseback rides for kids and adults, and food given out in the style of vendors marked the celebrations, which took on a more sombre tone, as more unmarked graves are discovered at former residential school sites across Canada.

READ MORE: 751 unmarked graves at Saskatchewan residential school: First Nation

“Because of everything going on with residential schools, we thought our community needed to get together and have food together and sit together and talk,” Stump said. “We had (the celebrations) in Nazko this year for our community to get together and heal.”

The day’s events began with a drum song, prayer and smudging in honour of the children discovered.

“This is leading into the next month of our healing journey,” Stump said. “We know it’s going to be long. The residential school my community attended in Williams Lake has yet to be investigated.”

Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations will be followed up by four days of mourning and healing from July 5 – 8, and a culture camp from July 22 – 29.

READ MORE: Community marches in Nazko to honour, remember MMIWG

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