Focus on youth and passing on traditions at National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations in Prince Albert

Community members take part in the Unity March from Memorial Square in downtown Prince Albert to Kinsmen Park on Friday. -- Emokhare Paul Anthony

Emokhare Paul Anthony

Daily Herald

Indigenous youths were advised to live a good life, live free, don’t grow up too fast, and take the knowledge passed down to them by the elders at National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations in Prince Albert on Friday.

The coordinator of this year’s Indigenous Peoples Day, Shane Bird, said June 21 is a day recognize to celebrate the history, heritage, resilience, and diversity of First Nations, and pass that heritage on to the youth.

“It is heartwarming to see lots of the young ones around,” Bird said. “The legacy we are leaving for them to is to come here and witness our culture, our food, and to reconnect with family.”

This year’s program theme is qatᶿɛnxegəs (qats-sun-wheegus), which means to unite or come together. The day started with an opening prayer in the morning at Memorial Square by Elder Henry Felix before a Unity Walk to Kinsmen Park where the program continued with culture, youth and vendor village while various musician performed at the main stage, spiced up with other sides attractions for the children and adults.

This year’s program will end with fireworks at river bank after a procession from the Kinsmen Park at around 10:30 p.m.

Bird appreciated the local sponsors, donors, the government for the grants and the entire Community member for making the day a reality.

“The touch was passed on to me as the coordinator of this year’s event and for the first time we were excited to have over 20 local sponsors featured in this years celebration,” said Bird.

Elder Kenneth Charlette was one of many Indigenous elders providing cultural demonstrations on Friday. He said the government set up the event as an Aboriginal Day celebration, but later changed to the regular Indigenous Peoples Day event.

“But for us, we like to say every day is an aboriginal day of celebration,” Charlotte said. “For me, it is our ability to see the truth in what is really is. (I’m) happy to see this coming together to celebrate this day.

Charlette spent the day in the Indigenous storytelling tipi where he spoke about traditional Indigenous teachings. Like Bird, he said it was great to see so many young people in attendance.

“Seeing this children come together almost make me cry. (It’s) so overwhelming to see many people come together to eat our food, (and) learn our language.”

National Indigenous Peoples Day, was announced in 1996 through a proclamation declaring June 21 of Each Year as National Aboriginal Day.

This was the result of consultations and statements of support for such a day made by various Indigenous groups. It is a day recognizing and celebrating the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Indigenous peoples of Canada.