This weekend marks the fourth All Nations Gathering, held at the Fort St. James Secondary School. It’s four days (Aug. 19 to 22) of celebration, culture and fun.
“The inspiration was to bring our First Nations communities together, to have fun, to celebrate our culture and to display it for the rest of the world,” said Ruby Prince, one of the organizers. “It’s open to everybody to come. It’s about revitalizing our cultural ways of being.”
Prince said the gatherings stretch back in history to pre-contact times.
Prince said there were certain areas that people would gather to arrange marriages, fish, talk trade and more.
“They have a lot of fun when they did it. That really is what we’re what we were trying to do was bring all that back,” said Prince.
The gatherings started in 2017, though they this is the first event since taking a break for COVID.
“Our very first one, we had 250 people come on the very first day of it, and it was like that throughout the whole weekend. Our expectation is we’re probably gonna see 300-400 people who come through there,” said Prince, adding that drum groups and storytellers are coming to entertain along with a group of Maori performers.
“We opened it up for other nations to join us as. Part of our First Nations culture is that we’re loving and kind people. From the very beginning of time our people have always been respectful and conscious that it takes the whole world to make up who we are as a people,” said Prince, adding that through historic events, some of their cultural identity has been lost.
“”Now we’re rebuilding that and trying to get that back. Bringing back that we’re loving and kind and respectful to everyone is a really important piece that we’re where revitalizing right now. In order for the world, to succeed, we all have to get together. We all have to grow together.
“It doesn’t mean just us as First Nations people. It means all of us, right? When we say all nations gathering, we mean all nations, all foreign nations of the world. So whether you’re European or whether you’re East Indian, or whether you’re Asian or whether you’re first nations. We want you to come.”
It’s not just about showing the rich First Nations culture, but also displaying the world’s rich culture, according to Prince.
“When we do that we show our love and respect to the world,” said Prince, adding that bringing back traditional beliefs is an important part of healing.
“And our beliefs are those four things: to be loving, to be kind, to be respectful and to be caring, and that means of all things,” said Prince. “The foundation of the All Nations (Gathering) is just to bring people together, to show our own people that we can have fun and also to show the world our culture, and to bring our bring our nationalities together.”
The weekend features a range of entertainment, including: storytelling, drum groups, dance groups, games, Lahal and kids activities.