Aboriginal culture will be celebrated at National Indigenous Peoples Day festivities in Nanaimo today at Maffeo Sutton Park.
The Government of Canada declared June 21 a day to recognize and celebrate the culture and contributions of the country’s indigenous cultures – First Nations, Inuit and Métis – and Nanaimo’s celebration, hosted by Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island and Mid Island Métis Nation, takes place from 4-8 p.m.
Chris Beaton, NAC executive director, said the event is free and will have numerous activities for children and families, along with a salmon barbecue. A number of cultural guests will be at the event representing a diverse part of the area’s indigenous communities, he said.
“The Boys and Girls Club will be in doing a bunch of sports activities,” said Beaton. “Recreational activities, hula hoops, parachutes … and then there’s face painting for kids. The Port of Nanaimo and Fisheries Canada I think are both doing tanks with sea life in them that the kids can come up and look at and touch.”
Indigenous art pictures will be available for children to colour, said Beaton and the Métis nation will have its 26-foot teepee set up with storytime taking place within.
Children will be able to take part in cedar weaving, indigenous vendors will sell their crafts and there will be live music and dance from performers, including those from Métis, Nuu-chah-nulth, Cowichan and Stz’uminus descent.
Food will also be available, Beaton said.
“A big piece of what we do annually is our salmon barbecue,” said Beaton. “So we’ve got wonderful marinated fresh salmon from St. Jean’s Cannery. We’ll be barbecuing it … we have bannock being made on site and those will be given away to up to 2,000 people at the event. We accept donations for them, but there is no cost for that salmon and bannock and a water or a drink.”
The day, originally called National Aboriginal Day, was first declared in 1996 by Roméo LeBlanc, Governor General of Canada at the time.
National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations in Nanaimo take place at Maffeo Sutton Park on Friday, June 21 between 4 and 8 p.m.