The Grande Prairie Friendship Centre and the local Indigenous community is gearing up for National Indigenous People’s Day celebrations on June 21st. The event starts with the opening of the traditional healing garden at 4 p.m.
Cultural Navigator Natascha Okimaw has been planning the event for some time now. She feels that it’s a very important day as we as a community take steps towards reconciliation.
“It recognizes and acknowledges Indigenous people of Canada. The name for the day itself has undergone a change in the last few years. It was formerly known as National Aboriginal Day. Having that inclusiveness of the new name means there’s a representation for more than just the First Nations peoples. It includes the Métis as well as the Inuit peoples,” she explains.
“While it’s great that we have National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. To go even further, I think it needs to be a statutory holiday.”
Indigenous People’s Day is a way of acknowledging the community, bringing people together, and allowing everyone to take part in Indigenous culture.
“We’re very excited to be outdoors for the festivities. We’re going to be closing down our street in front of the Friendship Centre so that we can offer more activities to people. On one side of our building, we will be offering our seven sacred teachings and family activities. We’ve invited some local Indigenous vendors too,” says Okimaw
Anyone is welcome at the event, which includes traditional dancers, and local artists Shawna & Maryanne, plus Indigenous singer/songwriter Jessa Sky is the headliner, coming in from Edmonton.
“We usually have a really good turnout of families at our events. We also invited our Aboriginal Head Start program graduates, so it’ll be great to see them too,” she says.
The event is free to attend and runs from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on June 21st at the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre.