By Jamie McKenzie
Women’s Drum Group
The heat and sun didn’t stop people from joining the celebration for Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st at the Kebaowek ball field.
The Indigenous Peoples Day celebration was put on together with Kebaowek First Nation and Wolf Lake First Nation.
“It’s a day where all First Nations across Turtle Island gets to celebrate and embrace the teachings that take place in each of our communities,” said Kebaowek’s Cultural Coordinator, Verna Polson.
She says it’s also a day to recognize the accomplishments of the community in the past year. “For me personally, it’s to recognize the hard work that each individual does for their community… I’m proud to be part of Kebaowek First Nation.”
In collaboration with Wolf Lake First Nation, both communities worked together to plan the day’s events. Polson says that each year they try to do something different, last year had a mini pow-wow.
The morning started with a Sun Rise Ceremony at 6:30 a.m. followed by a Hand Drum Birthing Ceremony.
“We had quite a few people for the Sun Rise Ceremony, almost 30 people, that was a very good turnout… and we also had non-Indigenous people who participated in the ceremonies,” said Polson.
She says everyone is welcome to come to ceremonies if they want to learn more.
The rest of the day’s activities began in the afternoon, people gathered under the covered areas for some shade and to participate in the different activities offered throughout the day, painting, pop socket beading and dream catcher making. There were some games – minnow races, tug-o-war and a moose calling competition for people, as well.
“There’s different little events and we just want people to enjoy each other’s company throughout the day,” said Polson.
The day also had a round dance, traditional feast and some live music for entertainment. A fireworks show was supposed to end the festivities, but had to be cancelled due to the current fire ban.
“To put on an event like this, I do it with pride and I do it with my heart,” said Polson. “I also get a lot of teachings from Elders to make sure we do the events and the ceremonies in the right way, so for me today, it’s an honour.”
Activities happening during Indigenous Peoples Day
Polson’s granddaughter also joined her on stage with the rest of the Women’s Drum Group.
“To have my granddaughter up on the stage beside me singing with the hand drum, that makes me proud and that’s why I do the work that I do,” she said.
She says she wants more people to come out to events like this, to bring their children and their families, if people want to learn more about the ceremonies and songs, they’re all welcome.
“We’re all learning together, that’s the message I send out there to everybody,” said Polson.