National Indigenous Peoples Day will be celebrated on Friday, June 18 and Monday, June 21 in the Williams Lake area.
The Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) in partnership with Yeqox Nilin Justice Society and Denisiqi Services Society is hosting a bannock and chili lunch in Herb Gardner Park below city hall on Friday, June 18 at noon.
“We are always doing events separately and we decided it was time to do something collaboratively,” said TNG executive director Jenny Philbrick. “It’s our culture — getting Indigenous people together. Everything is so heavy right now with the bodies being found at residential schools so having a celebration is important.”
There will be enough food for 150 people, as well as cupcakes and bubbles for children.
Everyone is welcome, she added.
“It will be an opportunity to have conversations and educate people about Indigenous people and Indigenous Peoples Day.”
Attendance at the luncheon will be kept to 50 people in the park at once, to adhere to present COVID-19 restrictions.
The three groups are also hosting an online contest, which closes at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 21.
Entrants are asked to answer the question ‘What does Indigenous Peoples Day mean to you?’ by creating a poem, painting, music, art work or a video explaining why it is important.
To submit entries contestants can send pictures and videos to Hayley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I think so far I have more entries from Indigenous people, but I have had some non-Indigenous people apply,” Philbrick said. “It’s good to see they are taking part and that Indigenous Day means something to non-Indigenous people.”
The TNG observes June 21 as a statutory holiday to be celebrated with family, she said.
“We also will be encouraging our people to be gentle with themselves. We know there will be more bodies discovered at St. Joseph’s Mission and those are all our relatives.”
June 21 is also the first day of summer, so it’s a “big thing,” Philbrick said.
Williams Lake First Nation is celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, June 21, at the Chief William Arbor with an event open to staff and community members from WLFN, Xat’sull First Nation, SXFN and Canim Lake Indian Band.
“We invite everyone to wear orange if they have it,” said WLFN events co-ordinator Janet Smith.
To help facilitate social distancing the event will be spread out and there will be a check-in at the entrance.
“In the campground will be the children’s section with crafts, face painting, a bouncy castle and different activities and at the arbor there will be a few vendors, some music playing but not live,” Smith said, noting there is a COVID safety plan in place.
The day is a time to celebrate, Smith added.
“We come together to share our culture and ways.”
Normally the celebration is shared with non-Indigenous people, but this year due to COVID that cannot happen, she said.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of celebrating the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada.
There will be no parade in Williams Lake for the second year in a row, due to COVID-19 restrictions.