Dancing, music, food and a celebration of graduates’ achievements are all part of a celebration of local Indigenous culture taking place later this week.
This year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration will be held Friday, June 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Aboriginal Education Centre at the Helen Dixon Centre at 241 Kinchant St.
The day will feature a Mini Pow Wow, dancing, singing, children’s activities and food, as well as a Grad Walkout Ceremony.
The celebration begins with an opening prayer by Ellie Peters at 9:30 a.m., followed by warm up calls and a drum roll call at 9:45 a.m.
The grounds will be blessed at 10:15 a.m., and there will be a Mini Pow Wow Grand Entry, Eagle Staff and Flag Song and Victory Song at 10:30 a.m.
There will be a welcome, cake cutting and the singing of O Canada at 11 a.m.
One of the highlights of the day will be a Walkout Ceremony featuring Grade 12 Indigenous grad awards and gifts, College of New Caledonia and University of Northern British Columbia grad awards and gifts and an Honor Song and Dance, led by Pow Wow Royalty, at noon.
“With the Walkout Ceremony, we have the graduates from Correlieu Secondary School and the different colleges who are graduating from here, and we recognize their achievements,” explained Quesnel Tillicum Society/Native Friendship Centre program director Donelly Clement. “As part of the same ceremony, we have a ceremony for the kids who are graduating from preschool at Longname.”
Dignitaries will speak just after noon, and an afternoon of dancing begins at 12:20 p.m.
There will be Inter Tribal Dancing and All Drums Dancing at 12:20 p.m.; a Blanket Dance/Blanket Ceremony at 12:35 p.m.; Golden Age Women, Golden Age Men and Tiny Tots dancing at 1:15 p.m.; Junior Girls Fancy, Jingle and Traditional dancing and Junior Boys Fancy, Grass and Traditional dancing at 1:30 p.m., and a Friendship Centre Round Dance at 1:45 p.m.
At 2 p.m., there will be Teen Girls Fancy, Jingle and Traditional dancing, along with Teen Boys Fancy, Grass and Traditional dancing.
There will be hoop dancing, hand drummers and a Métis dance at 2:15 p.m., followed by Men’s Fancy, Grass and Traditional dancing and Women’s Fancy, Jingle and Traditional dancing at 2:45 p.m.
There will be Inter Tribal Dancing at 3 p.m. At 3:15 p.m., there will be giveaways and name giving presentations, and the celebration will conclude with an Honor Song and closing remarks at 3:30 p.m.
Clement says one of the children’s activities will be a Hunt for Knowledge, and certain booths set up around the field will have information regarding Indigenous culture, such as how to say “hello” in Carrier. Children will have to find someone who can teach them the information they need and then bring it back and get a stamp. If they receive all five stamps, they’ll receive a prize, explains Clement.
Clement says there will be some free food, such as hot dogs and burgers, and there will be a concession with chili and bannock.
Clement says there will be music after noon, and he encourages people to bring their own lawn chairs.
This year, about 800 students will be coming to the celebration, and Donelly says another 400 to 500 people generally take part in the event.
“We usually get a big crowd,” he said.
This year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration is being organized with support from the Quesnel Tillicum Society, Aboriginal Education School District 28, the North Cariboo Aboriginal Family Program Society (Longname), the North Cariboo Métis Association, Safeway and 23 other community partner organizations.
Clement says they are still looking for volunteers, and anyone interested in helping out can contact him at 250-992-8347 or email@example.com.