Sylvan Lake celebrated National Indigenous People’s Day with a range of fun and educational initiatives on June 21.
An entire day of events at Centennial Park recognized the histories of Indigenous people and honoured their unique heritages and diverse cultures. Performers attended from all across Canada.
Over 1,500 students across six local schools attended the daytime portion of the celebration. Students took part in tipi building, Cree language learning, Indigenous field games, bannock making and introduction to round dance.
The evening showcased Powwow and offered storytelling, foraging tours and tipi displays to hundreds of attendees.
“The Town of Sylvan Lake is dedicated to working with Indigenous communities,” said special events coordinator Nathan Young. “We move forward in the light of a new understanding. One inspired and led by our Indigenous community. One where we may all embrace these teachings as people united by the land we inhabit.”
In partnership with the Powwow Times, the event invited elders and knowledge keepers to share their blessings during the opening ceremony and teachings and stories throughout the rest of the day.
Sylvan Lake is on lands that are traditional meeting grounds, gathering places, and travel routes for many nations, including the Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Metis, Saulteaux, and Nakota Sioux.
Alberta is home to the third-largest Indigenous population and the largest Metis population in Canada, Young said.
“Our Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but bring a collective strength that benefits us all.”
Stepping forward on the path to reconciliation, the town plans to make it an annual event.
“We hope the event continues to grow and educate the community on Indigenous culture and history,” Young said. “We will continue to build relations and work closely with our local Indigenous groups to ensure that we are doing our best to celebrate Indigenous culture in the most authentic and appropriate ways.”
The town received a grant from the Government of Canada to help fund the event as part of their Celebrate Canada grant program.