A group of Indigenous women called the Copper Moon Singers performed songs on themes that included healing and the saving of culture during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations in Campbell River. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

VIDEO: Celebrations mark National Indigenous Peoples Day

Event celebrates Indigenous culture

“I’m just happy to be Indigenous,” said Susan Landell of the North Island Métis Association.“It’s a great day to be Indigenous.”

She had just performed onstage with the Copper Moon Singers, a group of Indigenous women, as part of National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations that took place in Spirit Square on June 21.

Their songs touched on themes that included saving Indigenous culture, and healing.

“We come together to sing and to pray,” said Charlie Smoke, another member of the group. “We bring with us songs and teachings from all of our cultures.”

It was an afternoon of songs that also featured John Flett, a 74-year-old Métis fiddle player accompanied by guitarist Lyle Wilcox.

Originally from Duck Bay, on the shores of Lake Winnipegosis, Flett used to play at weddings and square dances across northern Manitoba, going as far as Norway House.

“I enjoy being here,” said Flett of the June 21 celebrations.

The event showcased crafts by local artisans, and there were activities for the kids, including a dunk tank.

The food was another feature. Staff from the Laichwiltach Family Life Society, which provides social services to Indigenous people in the region, were offering up meals of salmon and potato salad for free or by donation.

Fresh bannock was also on sale, with proceeds going towards travel expenses for community members who plan to travel to an elders’ gathering hosted by the Cowichan Tribes in the coming weeks.

Lavern Henderson, one of the organizers of the June 21 event, said this year’s celebration was the biggest one yet.

“We’ve never seen so many people,” she said. “It’s getting huge.”

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Jackie Lever, vice president of the North Island Métis Association, showing off her beadwork, which she sold during celebrations at Spirit Square to raise funds for the organization. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Jake Vermeeren displays an artisanal salve that he makes using the bark of devil’s club harvested near Campbell River. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

There were activities for youngsters at the celebrations: these two were busy with some Play-Doh. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

John Flett, who is originally from Duck Bay, central Manitoba, played traditional Métis fiddle music at Spirit Square as part of National Indigenous Peoples Day. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

The Wei Wai Kum and We Wai Kai soccer club held a raffle during the celebrations, with prizes including a bottle of oolichan oil. Club manager Michelle Billy is shown selling tickets. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Local artisan Matilda Francis displays one of her handmade creations. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Maylene Inrig, daycare manager at the Laichwiltach Family Life Society, prepares plates of salmon and potato salad, which was distributed for free or by donation to people attending the celebrations. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Andrew Puglas and Maggie Henderson prepare bannock annually for National Indigenous Peoples Day. Money raised from sales this year is earmarked to support community members travelling to a gathering of elders hosted by the Cowichan Tribes in the coming weeks. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

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