Sheltered from the rain inside the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, drummers and dancers performed at the 19th Annual National Aboriginal Day Centre.
The festivities started at noon and continued into the evening with the Gitmaxmak’ay dance troupe, part of the Nisga’a community in Prince Rupert, delivering a powerful performance.
In the first half of the day, Marlene Clifton guided the student drummers in a powerful performance, and later she held a drumming workshop.
One of the many vendors, Vincent Sampare, had a table designated for the Moose Hide Campaign, which aims to stand up against violence toward women and children.
“If you wear the pin, it starts the conversation and it gets it out in the open,” Sampare said. “Aboriginal women and children they’re 33 per cent more likely to face violence in the home than the average Canadian.”
From Ottawa, the prime minister announced that National Aboriginal Day, June 21, will be renamed.
“Over twenty years ago, the Government of Canada, together with Indigenous organizations, designated this day – the summer solstice – as National Aboriginal Day,” Trudeau said. “This year, I am also pleased to announce that from here forward the government’s intention is to rename this day National Indigenous Peoples Day.”
National Aboriginal Day is not a statutory holiday Canada-wide. The Northwest Territories recognized the day as a stat in 2001, and for the first time, Yukon residents had the day off work to participate in the cultural events.
On June 15, Saskatchewan NDP MP Georgina Jolibois introduced a private member’s bill to recognize National Aboriginal Day as a holiday.