Celebrations are planned in Prince Albert and around the northeast region to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day Thursday.
Activities are planned to celebrate the annual event, which recognizes the culture and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada. The name of the event, which used to be known as National Aboriginal Day, was changed by the federal government last year to National Indigenous Peoples Day.
In Nipawin, the Oasis Community Centre is hosting activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Joy Hanson, executive director, said the centre will also welcome 75 Grade 6 students from Wagner School to the free public event, which will feature drum making, teepee teachings, an archeology dig, birch bark crafts, a powwow demonstration, and much more. The Oasis Centre will also hold its annual general meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday.
“We just want to celebrate the culture. It’s so rich,” Hanson said.
In Melfort, the local museum and the Margeurite Riel Centre are partnering up on activities to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. Candace McNabb, program co-ordinator with the Margeurite Riel Centre, said about 45 Grade 2 students will be in attendance as a teepee is raised to recognize the day. McNabb said the event will be a chance to teach students about the significance of a teepee and the poles used to set it up.
“They have different meanings such as obedience, respect, humility, happiness, faith, love. The teepee teachings are values that help guide behaviours through the process of growing up, changing, and handling responsibilities,” McNabb added.
Gailmarie Anderson, with the Melfort Museum, said Thursday’s activities will also include crafts and a tour of the museum’s pioneer village. The activities run from 9:30 a.m. to Noon.
“After the teepee [raising], they will be making bannock and butter,” Anderson added. “The public is welcome if they want to come and watch.”
The Prince Albert Indian and Métis Friendship Centre is coordinating the annual event in Kinsmen Park once again this year. The teepee raising and pipe ceremony will take place in the morning, with a grand entry beginning at 2 p.m. Entertainment and children’s activities will be ongoing throughout the day until 8 p.m., with the Cupe Local 4777 barbecue starting at 5 p.m.
New at the Prince Albert event will be a blanket exercise, scheduled for 6 p.m. Janet Carriere, executive director with the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, said the blanket exercise will provide a hands-on demonstration of European colonization in Canada and its impact on First Nations communities.
“It gives a quick visual history of the Indigenous peoples of Canada,” Carriere said. “By the time you walk away from it, you understand and you have a good grasp of the history.”
Also in Prince Albert Thursday, the Council of Canadians is sponsoring a showing of the movie Reconciliation on the Prairies at the John M. Cuelanaere Public Library.
More events to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day are taking place in communities across the country Thursday. The event is held each year on the first day of summer, June 21.
On Twitter: @CharleneTebbutt
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