A Celebration for Aboriginal Day
By: Phoenix Winter
Aboriginal Day took place in good DTES style on Thursday, June 21st in Oppenheimer Park. It is a day celebrated across the country to honour First Nations and Metis people. The day featured food, music, dancing, storytelling and giveaways.
“I loved it. I loved it,” enthused Marvin Dennis Sr. He has been going to the Park’s Aboriginal Day for the last two or three years. “I liked all of it, especially when the Nisga’a came on.” The traditional KwhliiGibaykw dance group drummed and danced in a large group on the Park’s baseball diamond, featuring very young dancers as well as older folks. They were dressed in their traditional regalia.
Other performers included Haisla with Nasty, Brutish and Short, a blues band. The Aboriginal Front Door Drum was there, as well as the Harmony of Nations, a hand drum group based out of Oppenheimer. The Hobema School of Rock played a youth rock beat, just before the Traditional Grandmothers hand drum came on.
Included in the giveaways were items made from Carnegie’s Cultural Sharing program. The arts and crafts made there “come from the heart. If we can put a smile on people’s face” that’s worth it, says Les Nelson, mentor for the program. The program takes place every Monday from 5 to 9, and will resume in September. People are welcome there to make beaded necklaces or key chains or dream catchers. Part of what they make is used as a gift for different events.
Oppenheimer Park put up its teepee on the grounds, an exercise that took longer than expected. There was storytelling in there, and it was a place where children were welcome. There were also activities for the young ones in the children’s play area, including a special barbecue.
A meat stew was cooked for adult participants, and elders got served first. Bannock was made ready the day before by Eunice McMillan and her son. Ice cream was brought around later in the day. The Tim Horton’s car came by and gave out hot chocolate and Timbits (shameless plug, but the truth).
There were booths set up on the Park’s field, and one of them was from the Museum of Anthropology. They had chalk that you could draw or write with on black paper. Pictures of the sheets are probably going to be put on the museum’s web site, said one of the booth’s operators, so people could view them on-line.
The Aboriginal Front Door had a booth, giving cut-outs to make mini canoes on water and Red River Carts. There were also aboriginal colouring books put out for people to take.
The weather mostly cooperated, and the Park was packed with participants to honour the special day, which coincided with summer solstice.