The organizer of the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in Williams Lake is hoping the national theme of unity will rub off on everyone in the community.
“It’s real — the divide of cultures,” said Janet Smith, community services co-ordinator for the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ). “Even planning this event and talking to different people I still see the divide, so we’re going to scoot that out of the way and just enjoy the day.”
Smith was adopted and raised off-reserve in Williams Lake.
“My mother was First Nations and my dad wasn’t,” she said. “I’ve lived in this community my whole life and I walked both sides of the tracks.”
National Indigenous Peoples Day, formerly National Aboriginal Day, takes place every year on June 21 in Canada.
This is the first time Smith is organizing a celebration to mark the day and said “it’s about celebrating our culture and where we come from.”
The celebration begins with a parade, departing from the NStQ building on First Avenue South at 10 a.m., making its way east down Oliver Street to Save-On-Foods and ending up at Boitanio Park.
From the Gwen Ringwood Theatre in the park, Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Ann Louie will give a formal welcome, followed by speeches, drumming, hoop dancers and live entertainment.
A judged Bannock Belly Contest will take place from noon to 2 p.m. and anyone wanting to enter can do so at the park that day.
There will also be 32 vendors selling arts and crafts, fundraising tables and children’s activities until about 3:30 p.m.
National Indigenous Peoples Day 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: https://t.co/M85KNy9tZr via @IndigenousBC #ExploreBC— Destination BC (@HelloBC) June 18, 2018
Christy Smith, NStQ executive director, said participation in this year’s events is going to be 25 per cent larger than last year, judging from how many people have indicated they will be attending.
“We are all really excited about the unity theme,” she added.