PHOTOS: Smithers celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day

More than 600 people attended activities at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Hall for National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21 in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)More than 600 people attended activities at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Hall for National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21 in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)
People of all ages celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)People of all ages celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)
Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine, enjoyed the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations and handed out popcorn to the little ones. (Deb Meissner photo)Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine, enjoyed the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations and handed out popcorn to the little ones. (Deb Meissner photo)
The Witset Drummers were in a festive mood for the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations. (Deb Meissner photo)The Witset Drummers were in a festive mood for the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations. (Deb Meissner photo)
The barbecues were active all day grilling burgers for the crowds. (Deb Meissner photo)The barbecues were active all day grilling burgers for the crowds. (Deb Meissner photo)
St. Joseph School, Muheim Elementary School and Walnut Park School students were all in attendance for the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Hall in Smithers June 21. (Deb Meissner photo)St. Joseph School, Muheim Elementary School and Walnut Park School students were all in attendance for the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Hall in Smithers June 21. (Deb Meissner photo)
Historical photos and information were among the displays in the Friendship Hall during the celebrations for National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21 in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)Historical photos and information were among the displays in the Friendship Hall during the celebrations for National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21 in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)
Mabel Forsyth, (Timberwolf) with Mel Bazil, (master of ceremonies) gives an opening prayer and greetings for National Indigenous Peoples Day at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Hall in Smithers June 21. (Deb Meissner photo)Mabel Forsyth, (Timberwolf) with Mel Bazil, (master of ceremonies) gives an opening prayer and greetings for National Indigenous Peoples Day at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Hall in Smithers June 21. (Deb Meissner photo)

Despite rainy weather in Smithers, National Indigenous People’s Day June 21 saw a joyous and large crowd turn out to enjoy entertainment and food and visit a wide variety of vendor and information booths.

The Witset Drummers and Muheim Elementary School Choir were among the entertainment highlights and a barbecue for the community kept people fed throughout the day.

All of the activities were held at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Hall.

“Six hundred and twenty-eight people attended the celebrations in Smithers, and another 580 people attended similar celebrations in Houston,” said Annette Morgan, executive director of the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre.

“We were very pleased with the turn-out and thankful to all the volunteers.”

READ MORE: Smithers celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day

“Over the years the celebration has grown into an interactive fun-filled day that helps build generational and cultural bridges by inviting people of all ages, and from different cultural backgrounds, to come together to share knowledge and stories and celebrate the unique heritage and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Metis people,” Morgan said.

Mel Bazil, alcohol and drug facilitator at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre, who also acted as master of ceremonies during the day, said the annual celebration is respite from more serious matters.

“Throughout the rest of the year [the Friendship Centre deals] with a lot of intense issues, so this is a great way to step away from that and put our best foot forward and celebrate what is good about our nations.”

National Indigenous Peoples Day, according to the Government of Canada’s website, is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples, now more commonly called Indigenous peoples.

Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.

In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21, the summer solstice, for National Aboriginal Day. Since 2017, it has been known as National Indigenous Peoples Day.



deb.meissner@interior-news.com

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