Celebration connects cultures

National Aboriginal Day draws big crowds to Maffeo Sutton Park.

Maliasha Thorne-Seward performs a shawl dance for the large crowd gathered at Maffeo Sutton Park Thursday afternoon to celebrate National Aboriginal Day.

Maliasha Thorne-Seward performs a shawl dance for the large crowd gathered at Maffeo Sutton Park Thursday afternoon to celebrate National Aboriginal Day.

National Aboriginal Day in Nanaimo was a celebration of culture, connection and forging friendships.

It was a day of acknowledging relationships and the strong connection First Nation Peoples have with each other and the land.

Maliasha Thorne-Seward, of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, who entertained the crowd of people gathered in Maffeo Sutton Park Thursday with a shawl dance, said it was great to see so many people come out and celebrate.

“It’s a celebration of the first people that were here and it also means that anybody can come,” she said.

Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief Doug White said during the closing ceremony that Aboriginal Day is a relatively new celebration that was created in 1996 and is important to recognize the basic idea that Aboriginal People are meaningful to the founding of Canada as a nation. He said work still needs to be done on treaty resolutions in the province.

White stressed the importance of relationships and creating those to enhance the lives of the younger and future generations.

“It’s days like this that forge different pathways for opportunities down the road,” said White. “We want to extend the love we have for our own children to everyone.”

The Snuneymuxw First Nation has been working hard to forge relationships with people in the community and also between elders and youth. Snuneymuxw elder Tom Jones visited schools in Nanaimo along with other elders to share his knowledge of the nation’s history and teach the language.

“The teachers are bringing in some of the elders to teach [aboriginal youth] some of their culture which has been dying,” he said.

The program is a way to ensure elder knowledge is imparted to youth.