National Indigenous Peoples Day was celebrated in Prince Rupert on June 21, with a cascade of orange shirts and traditional regalia, singing and dancing across the courthouse lawn to the rhythm of drums from various First Nations groups.
More than 250 people gathered in the evening ceremony to recognize the foundation and contributions that First Nations, Metis, and Inuit have made to the history and culture which make up modern-day Canada.
“I love the way everything is falling into place, especially breathing life into our culture. The singing, the dancing, the gathering and sharing of food, knowledge, and learning for others,” Peter Nelson Prince Rupert resident said.
Nelson is a member of the Nisga’a Nation from the Nass Valley and said out of 11 children he is one of two left.
The day is one of reflection for him as he remembers his older siblings returning from residential school being different people from when they left.
“When our brothers and sisters returned they were totally different. They were still humble and respectful, but they were different,” he said.
“When we talked about their schooling down south, I don’t say this to be unkind, but their eyes went big and their mouths went small. Nothing was said. We knew something had happened, but we didn’t bring it up again,” Nelson said.
“Although it was Aboriginal day today, this brings a whole different kind of meaning to this. It’s not only for those who were found, and those who went down before us, but they instilled into us the love and respect to continue to care for all, where ever they may be,” he said.
“The other thing that was instilled in us — the same as it is for all nations, is the prayer. The prayer is always there, no matter what language is taught. We know that God is with us yesterday, today, and for all of the tomorrows.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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