Barb Wycotte (left) and Marry Harry, family liaison workers with Three Corners Health Services Society, share traditional medicines during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Boitanio Park in Williams Lake Friday, June 21, 2019. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo)

Virtual celebrations planned for National Indigenous Peoples Day in Williams Lake

Parade and festivities in Boitanio Park cancelled this year

The COVID-19 pandemic will not prevent celebrations from happening in Williams Lake to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day.

But instead of coming together in person, festivities will be held virtually from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 21.

“Things are starting to come together very well,” said first time organizer Sabrina Jeff.

“It’s a new venture.”

The four-hour celebration will be emceed live from the Northern Shuswap Council office located on 1st Avenue South in downtown Williams Lake by Mike Retasket.

“It should be interesting,” Jeff said, noting it did not cross their mind to cancel this year’s celebration.

North of Williams Lake, Lheidli T’enneh Chief and Council made the difficult decision to cancel the event at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park due to large gatherings remaining unsupported by public health officials.

“While Council had to make the tough decision to cancel this year’s Prince George National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration, I know our members and other Indigenous people in our territory will find a way to celebrate our history, heritage and culture in new ways and in smaller groups,” Dayi (chief) Clay Poutney said in a statement.

The virtual celebration in Wiliams Lake will be live-streamed on the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council and NStQ Treaty Group Facebook pages.

Jeff is currently seeking video sharing talent and skills as well as shout-outs to family and friends from anyone wanting to participate. Youth from the NStQ Nations including Xatśūll Cmetem’ (Soda Creek/ Deep Creek), Stswēceḿc Xgāt’tem (Canoe Creek/ Dog Creek), T’ēxelc (Williams Lake) and Tsq’ēsceń (Canim Lake) will receive a $25 honorarium for participating.

Video must be submitted by June 12.

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