If you skipped the Nov. 6 Native Awareness Gathering on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Bonnington in Nakusp, you missed the perfect party. This event had all of the elements of a great gathering; live music, good food, acts by talented locals, friends, contests, prizes, and a whole lot of hugs.
Tables around the periphery of the open floor stage included books for both adult and children addressing Canadian Native history and literature, a face-painting station, Native crafts, a canvas tepee, and eating stations. Native Elders, Metis, non-Natives, young and old mingled. A drumming circle led by elder Ganishka Silverfox demonstrated the strength and honesty of the Native oral tradition.
Meanwhile the judging panel (Bill Burgess, Mel Paul, Mark, John Madden, “Happyface” partners Wendall and Bill – Jones’s both) hunkered down to picking winners for Coyote Howling, Duck Calling, Eagle Calling and the Ugly Contest. Contestants ranged from small to large, each and all entering every competition earnestly. First place winners for the contest were: Rowan for the Ugly, Darcy for Duck, Xander for Eagle and Morganna for Coyote. Morganna’s coyote shrill would surely curdle anyone’s oatmeal.
Speaking with school principal George Harding, Native students comprise 9.5 per cent of the District 10 student population. In Nakusp, all Native students have graduated successfully. Native Awareness programs include all students – this on the direction of Native parents in this area. Truth and Reconciliation Commission funding is available for both the hired school instructors and this Gathering, which promote understanding, forgiveness and healing. By including all students and extending a warm welcome to the community at this gathering in Nakusp, TRC funds are being used for community-building, not dwelling on the suffering of the past.