“As a person who grew up in Abbotsford and didn’t see a lot of my culture in the community, to have an event of this size in Abbotsford on Aboriginal Day is heartwarming,” said Perry, who is Shuswap from the Bonaparte First Nation, and the Abbotsford District Principal of Aboriginal Education.
He was also one of the performers at Aboriginal Day, presenting a traditional dance in full regalia along with his four-year-old son Elijah.
“It’s pretty exciting to have my son, who’s interested in (First Nations) culture at a much younger age than I was,” Smith said.
“It’s a great feeling.”
With his son Elijah, Perry Smith performs a traditional dance at the Aboriginal day celebration in Abbotsford Tuesday. Smith is the Abbotsford District Principal of Aboriginal Education. DAN FERGUSON
Several hundred people attended the event, including Abbotsford mayor Henry Braun and members of council, MLA Simon Gibson and Dawn Johnson, president of the Fraser Valley Metis association.
Smith said there have been smaller events for aboriginal day in Abbotsford before, but this year was the first time several groups came together to stage the event at city hall.
In addition to First Nations and Métis music and dance, there were crafts activities such as traditional Salish weaving, food and storytelling.
Organizers, who are hoping to make the celebration an annual event, estimate more than 450 people attended based on the consumption of hot dogs alone.
“It was a huge success, we were very pleased” said Cynthia Churchill of the Fraser Regional Library, one of the groups that worked together to arrange the celebration.
Aimée Fauteux of Abbotsford plays a traditional Métis tune at the Aboriginal day event.
Marcia Na, 8, from Abbotsford, tries her hand at traditional Salish weaving at the Aboriginal Day celebration.
National Aboriginal Day was first designated in 1995 when the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended a National First Peoples Day.
In 2001, the Northwest Territories the first jurisdiction in Canada to recognize the day as a formal statutory holiday.