Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day: A Journey of Culture, Tradition, and Unity

Jun 24, 2024

National Indigenous Peoples Day is a significant occasion for honoring the rich heritage, diverse cultures, and notable contributions of Indigenous communities across Canada. This year, our celebration was a vibrant tapestry of activities, performances, and educational sessions, all aimed at fostering understanding, respect, and unity.

Our day began with a series of engaging traditional games, where students enthusiastically participated in events such as Arm Pull, 1-Foot-Kick, and the traditional Blackfoot game of Rock in Fist. These games, led by Indigenous student leadership groups from Camilla and Four Winds Schools, tested strength, agility, and strategic thinking, all while providing immense fun and laughter.

The powwow segment was a highlight, featuring renowned MC Conway Kootenay, the rhythmic beats of the Abraham Lake Singers, and captivating dances by Eliza Arcand and Gwen Arcand. This vibrant display of Indigenous art and culture was a beautiful reminder of the rich traditions that continue to thrive in our communities.

We were honored to have Jana Angulalik, a proud Inuinnait/Copper Inuk woman, share her cultural knowledge and experiences. Her session on Inuit culture, including throat singing and traditional tattoo practices, created a safe and enlightening space for the sharing and celebration of Inuk heritage.

Renowned Métis fiddler Alex Kusturok, alongside Jerome Chabot, showcased the significance of Métis fiddling and jigging. Students were thrilled to try jigging to live fiddle music, adding a lively and rhythmic dimension to our celebration.

The hands-on activities continued with sessions on Indigenous history, teepee teachings by Alexander First Nation Elders, traditional leg wrestling, Métis finger weaving, and beading. Each activity provided a unique opportunity for students to engage deeply with Indigenous traditions and craftsmanship.

We also honored the legacy of Indigenous soldiers and veterans, acknowledging their sacrifices and contributions to Canada’s armed forces. This session, along with a practical lesson on traditional childcare practices through moss-bag making, enriched our understanding of Indigenous resilience and heritage.

Our celebration wouldn’t have been complete without a spirited game of lacrosse, Canada’s official sport with deep roots in First Nations culture. The day ended with a delicious bannock burger and watermelon lunch, generously sponsored by community partners and served by the Jessie Martel Memorial Foundation.

National Indigenous Peoples Day was a day of learning, celebration, and connection. It reminded us of the importance of supporting and uplifting Indigenous voices and traditions. As we reflect on this enriching experience, let us carry forward the spirit of unity and respect for Indigenous cultures every day.

Together, we can continue to learn from and celebrate the diverse and vibrant Indigenous communities that enrich our lives and our nation.