t was rainy and it was chilly but it was smiles all around at the Saik’uz First Nation (SFN) on Thursday, June 19.
Despite drawbacks, the poor weather and teachers strike, National Aboriginal Day went off without a hitch. The event, which honours and celebrates aboriginal cultures throughout Canada, usually draws a crowd of hundreds according to Paula Wylie, a clinical supervisor with Nechako Valley Community Services Society (NVCSS) and volunteer with National Aboriginal Day. “Last year we had over 300 kids, this year we were expecting over 600, but that’s all changed due to teachers strike.”
This years celebration, while not meeting the 600 mark, was still attended by over 200 people, despite the weather and teachers strike.
The celebration receives lots of support from the community with groups like Co-op, Newgold, NVCSS, Canadian Heritage and Innergex sponsoring the event. “We’ve had great success with our funding,” says Wylie. “We’ve received so much support from the community.”
Wylie says events like National Aboriginal Day are important to her and to the community because of the opportunity they create for the community at large to celebrate, support and practice aboriginal traditions.
“We have such a rich First Nations culture that we’re not always exposed to,” she says. “Events like this keep[people] practicing their traditions and culture. It brings the community together to work to celebrate their traditions.”
The celebration consisted of games like tug of war, a spoon race and hayride as well as cultural activities such as making fresh bannock (a traditional bread), drumming and a performance by the Saik’uz Band Dancers.