Pride, tradition, honour, and the future — those were the focal points of Sunday’s National Aboriginal Day event in Langley City.
While National Aboriginal Day was technically June 21, Langley held its own celebration four days later at Douglas Park.
Through drums, singing, speeches, a blanketing ceremony, dance, and food, Canadian First Nations culture and heritage were highlighted on and around the park’s Spirit Square stage.
Kwantlen First Nation elders Lekeyten and Cheryl Gabriel spoke to open the event, that was hosted by the Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society.
Gabriel admitted she was ashamed of her heritage “because we were taught that way.”
But when her sister Marilyn became band chief in 1994, she brought the Kwantlen name back, which means “tireless runner, tireless hunter.”
Soon after, 18 Kwantlen First Nation members received their traditional names.
“It was such an emotional day, but that’s just our nation,” Gabriel said. “A lot of the nations across British Columbia and Canada and North America, are going back to their traditional names and making sure that people know they are walking, and working and playing, learning, teaching, that they are on a traditional territory.”
Regarding the day itself, Lekeyten said, “I know that today, you are going to have a good time, and that’s why we came. Let the tiny tots have fun, let them dance, let them sing, make sure they know why we honour them today with the blanket. You might not see another one like this for a long time.”
This free family festival included activities for all ages ranging from elders to children, with information tables, aboriginal vendors, free hot dogs, bannock sales and more.
About National Aboriginal Day
This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples, also known as Indigenous Peoples.