Drummers, dancers and some delicious bannock.
As part of 2019 National Indigenous Peoples Day, Smithers held an outdoors BBQ and afternoon of celebrations on Third Street behind Coast Mountain College.
Sponsored by a number of local businesses and put on by the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre, the event was a chance for Smithereens, of all walks of life, to come together and celebrate Indigenous culture in Canada.
After opening comments and a brief musical set by Adam Gagnon the grills lit up and the smells of burgers and hot dogs began to harmonize with the minty-yet-earthy odor of sage smudges burning throughout the field.
Shortly after, the dancing and singing began, kicked off by Kelsey Abraham and his daughter Bella Rain Abraham.
“In Witsuwit’en we don’t say hello, we say hadïh. Thank you to all the children, elders and people for coming and joining us today to celebrate who we are,” said Abraham.
As he explained, many of the traditional dances he performed have deep meanings and connotations within his culture.
“What I’m going to dance for you [now] is called a men’s grass [which traditionally] cleanses the [space] for the dancers behind us who are going to dance next,” Abraham said.
“For all the entertainers who are going to perform after us we send them good prayers, good feelings, [and] positive energy … so before our dance I’d like to acknowledge the Wet’suwet’en for allowing me and my daughter on their traditional territory so we could share our song and dance.”
Also on the docket for the day was a moose-call competition and traditional soapberry ice cream tutorial featuring Smithers own Mayor Taylor Bachrach.
The day finished off with another set of performances from Abraham and the Ewik’ Hiyah Hozdli Drum Group.
On the other side of town, Bachrach was also a participant in the Tears for Hope relay event, which will see a number of runners from Prince Rupert and Smithers complete consecutive 10-kilometre legs that culminate with a ceremony in Terrace tomorrow focused on creating a safe environment for Indigenous women and girls in the region.
“I was honoured to run the first 10km leg of the Tears to Hope Relay early this morning in support of creating safe communities for Indigenous women and girls throughout our region,” said Bachrach.
The holiday was first celebrated in 1996 as National Aboriginal Day.
In 2017 it was renamed to National Indigenous Peoples Day.