Nakusp hosts Aboriginal Day celebrations

School District 10, in partnership with the Nakusp Museum, decided to host their cultural celebrations on Thursday, June 18.

Ryan willman

Arrow Lakes News

National Aboriginal Day was first announced in 1996 and is billed as an opportunity for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. The official calendar date for Canada’s National Aboriginal Day is June 21, but School District 10, in partnership with the Nakusp Museum, decided to host their cultural celebrations on Thursday, June 18 to better accommodate families and their students in the district.

A day of cultural presentations and displays took place in the Nakusp auditorium and on the grounds surrounding the arena. Students from Nakusp Elementary School, Lucerne School in New Denver and Edgewood Elementary School joined community guests and parents for the celebration, which showcased local and regional traditional knowledge.

The day’s events commenced with a colorful opening ceremony that included welcoming speeches from School District 10 superintendent, Terry Taylor and Bill Tobey who represented the Village of Nakusp. Each spoke eloquently about the importance of cultural diversity and their words were complimented by succeeding dance performances from Running Wolf, a Fancy Dancer from Nelson BC and Al Richardson, a Siniext stick dancer.

“I had a vision many years ago” Richardson shared prior to his stick dance performance, “it was of a rainbow. I didn’t understand it at the time, but now I see because it is right here in front of me. All of you are a wonderful rainbow of color, personality and individuality. It is amazing to behold and I am so happy that we have all gathered here today to celebrate together.”

After the opening ceremonies students and guests were invited to circulate around the mosaic of guest speakers who were prepared to share their stories and traditional aboriginal knowledge. Included amongst the cultural presenters was internationally renowned sculptor, David Seven Deers. Visiting from his home in Grand Forks, Seven Deers has recently earned acclaim in the Boundary region for completing a prominent and powerful sculpture, Raven, that has been installed in Midway for the Gateway project in the Entwined Trees Park. Lighting his sacred fire in Gazebo Park, the accomplished sculptor shared his other talent, storytelling, and narrated traditional Salish stories to young captivated audiences.

Arrow Tipi from Burton also set up a tipi in the Gazebo Park field, which attracted onlookers from the beach eager to take pictures of the towering structure.

The celebrations were sponsored by the Community Services Food Bank, School District 10 and through Columbia Basin Trust grants applied for through the Nakusp Museum.