“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.”