Celebrating culture at National Aboriginal Day

Jodi Schellenberg
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It was a time of sharing cultures in the park.

Crowds gathered at Kinsmen Park on Sunday to celebrate National Aboriginal Day in Prince Albert.

There was a wide range of activities throughout the day, kicking off with a pipe ceremony.

“It is important to hold pipe ceremony because we pray to the pipe and we pray for a good day and we pray for people and we pray for things,” said Janet Carriere, executive director of the Friendship Centre and one of the organizers of the event. “We always start every aboriginal event with prayer. You pray to ask for a good turn out, for people to have good hearts and for it to be a joyous thing.

“That was really important that we started with pipe ceremony because it set a tone for the whole day.”

After the pipe ceremony, more teepees went up in the park, with the First Nations inviting others to watch the ceremony with which a teepee is erected.

“We would like to put a couple up throughout the day so the community can see how a teepee is put up because there is also ceremony in putting up a teepee,” Carriere said. “There is meaning and we just want the community to see that as well.”

The day continued with more activities, including a Round Dance for all at the park in the afternoon.

“They are shooting for the world’s largest but I don’t think that is going to happen,” Carriere smiled. “Round dancing is just an awesome (dance). You don’t need a partner, you just join hands and you join in and dance to the beat of the drum. The drum matches with your heart. The drum is a very important thing in aboriginal culture.”

In addition, they also put on powwow demonstrations so the community could understand and see what they are about, Carriere said.

Although it was raining on and off throughout the day, those gathered still had a great time either celebrating their culture or learning more about aboriginal culture.

“I think it is important for aboriginal people to be able to celebration who they are and just to give them a sense of pride and just to know it is OK to be aboriginal, it is OK to be proud of it,” Carriere said. “A lot of aboriginal people in our city don’t get the opportunity to participate in any cultural events so this is one way they can do it.”

This is the about the fifth year the Friendship Centre has put on an event in the park for all the citizens of Prince Albert.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a lot of displays of cultural things so the whole community gets to see parts of aboriginal life -- maybe not so much in modern times, but the way it was at one time,” she said. “That is our dream. Every year we hope to get a little bit bigger and better.”

National Aboriginal Day isn’t just for First Nations people, Carriere explained.

“I think that each and every year more of the community should come out just to experience some of the aboriginal culture and just to see,” she said. “Sometimes people are scared to go around because they are scared to do something wrong.”

If people are unfamiliar with the culture, Carriere said Aboriginal Day is a perfect time to learn and ask questions because they are all willing to explain, show and teach others.

“It is for everyone. That is what is it sort of about is showing the rest of the community what being aboriginal is about.”

Organizations: Friendship Centre, First Nations

Geographic location: Prince Albert

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