Incoming School District 27 First Nation role models Damion alphonse and Talia Baptiste (left) present bookmark presents to their fellow role model nominees Michelle Myers

Incoming School District 27 First Nation role models Damion alphonse and Talia Baptiste (left) present bookmark presents to their fellow role model nominees Michelle Myers

Aboriginal Day celebrations begin with a parade

There will be lots to do in Williams Lake next week to celebrate and learn more about First Nations culture in our area


There will be lots to do in Williams Lake next week to celebrate and learn more about First Nations culture in our area.

The general public is invited to join First Nations people from around the region in two celebrations that will be taking place in the lakecity on Aboriginal Day, June 21.

There will be a parade plus activities in both Boitanio Park and at Thompson Rivers University. 

The parade with floats, riders and entries from various bands will start at about 10 a.m. from the Elks Hall parking lot and travel along First Avenue and Oliver Street, turning left at Save-On Foods to Boitanio Park, says event spokesperson Marg Casey.

She says the Soda Creek, Williams Lake and Canoe Creek bands are getting together to put on activities in the park that will run from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. 

Activities will include a mini pow wow at the bandstand, plus games,  face painting,  and craft activities such as beading and making a medicine pouch.

There will also be a bouncing castle for kids to play in, bannock and concessions, Casey says. 

After the Boitanio Park activities finish, Casey encourages people to head on up to TRU for more celebrations.

Thompson Rivers University is hosting a full day of activities starting at 10 a.m. with a Lehal tournament that runs until about 5 p.m.

A traditional pow wow will be held from noon to 5 p.m. followed by a designers’ fashion show starting at 5:30 p.m. with closing ceremonies and awards presentations at 7:30 p.m.

At some point during the day hand drummers will be called together to give a special tribute to residential school survivors, says Lillian Squalian one of the event organizers, who herself spent about eight years in a residential school.

She says the fashion show will feature designs by Carol Camille, who is originally from Canoe Creek, and creates beautiful regalia and clothing with First Nations themes. She says the Anaham band will be showing more than 30 outfits and the Redstone band will be showing regalia for small children.

John Terbasket will be the master of ceremonies for the pow wow that will take place in the playing field behind the university. The Qwatna Mountain drum group will be the host drum group. In case of rain, the pow wow will be moved to the TRU gymnasium, but Squalian says she has made a special request for sunshine.

Squalian says this will be a traditional pow wow with lots of intertribal dances. Anyone can join the intertribal dancing, First Nations or not, Squalian says.

“You don’t have to be in regalia to jump up and dance in an intertribal dance,” Squalian says. “It will be lots of fun.”

The Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society will have games such as bungee run and sumo wrestling set up for the youth.

There will also be Indian Bingo games for older and younger children. In this game wrapped gifts are set in the centre of a circle. Three or four sets of dice are passed from person to person to throw. On the first round whoever throws doubles gets to pick a gift from the pile.

The game becomes more exciting on the timed second round when the gifts have been opened. Whoever throws doubles gets to take a gift from whoever happens to have one. “You never know which gift is going to prove most popular,” Squalian says. “It is hilarious.” 

She says sand has also been donated for a mock archaeology site with replica artifacts that will be set up for children to explore.

She says the Lehal tournament will be a traditional one that doesn’t involve gambling. Each team will bring a traditional gift of crafts, dried meat or salmon, medicines and other items for prizes. 

The winning teams will also receive trophies and bragging rights.

Three games will be played at the same time with 12 people on each team. The teams will be comprised of six adults and six youth players.

Lehal is a traditional aboriginal game using painted sticks for scoring and a couple of sets of playing bones.

Each set of bones includes one plain bone and one with a stripe around the middle.  Teams of players sit opposite one another to play.

The team captain chooses a player to hold the bones behind his or her back, and shift the two bones from one hand to the other, being sure to keep only one bone in each hand. The opposite team members take turns guessing which hand contains the plain bone. 

Guessing the correct bone wins sticks, until the game is finally won by the winning of the large kick stick. 

The game includes singing to distract the opposing team and pump up team spirit.

Squalian says the players also have to point to the correct hand in just the right way and there is lots of room to trick the opposite team into opening their hand before they are supposed to.

Squalian says the Williams Lake Library will also be showing some videos and have a table set up where kids can make bookmarks.

There will be face painting, craft and information tables, bannock and concessions.


People are asked to bring their own lawn chairs. The Gathering Place building will be set up as a place where elders can go when they need a rest.



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