Drums are used in several aspects of the First Nations culture. (Photo courtesy of the Anishaanabe Cultural Circle Facebook page)
Cali Duchene in pink regalia does her shawl dance to a song by A Tribe Called Red. (Photo courtesy of the Anishaanabe Cultural Circle Facebook page)
Local online ceremonies, demonstrations mark National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday July 9th, 2020
Things were done differently for Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day locally this year.
Instead of a day of hands-on teachings, activities and demonstrations traditionally held on June 21, it was streamed online on the Anishaanabe Cultural Circle Facebook page.
There was some apprehension at first as local organizers weren’t sure how the day was going to look. Yet despite their initial misgivings, it was a success with hundreds of views per video.
Some of the videos were pre-filmed while others were live. Both the elders and the youth took part in making these segments.
“Our community is always very generous and very amazing with coming together to help,” said coordinator Angela Duchene, who is also a child and youth worker with Family and Children Services Renfrew County (FCSRC).
She admits that she was initially worried but the response on Facebook was overwhelmingly positive with a high number of views.
“It was a lot more than I expected,” said Duchene.
By going online, the event also allowed people who wouldn’t have been able to attend to join in. This further promoted the day’s goal of celebrating the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis people of Canada.
Such events help strengthen community and fellowship while teaching people from all backgrounds about the history and customs of the country’s original residents. Teaching youth has always been a main focus.
“It’s one of the reasons why we do what we do,” said Duchene, “because that has been the culture and I think primarily most cultures are like that. Grandparents teach the grandchildren. Because if these teachings aren’t taught, they just disappear.”
To respect the sanctity of the teachings, some of the day’s activities such as lighting the sacred fire were not recorded. They still occurred and were mentioned but not shown.
“We try to celebrate every year in whatever manner we can,” said Duchene.
National Indigenous Peoples Day was first celebrated in 1996. The last residential school was closed in 1996.
Locally, the celebrations are hosted by FCSRC, the Renfrew County and District Aboriginal Friendship Centre, the Anishaanabe Cultural Circle, Métis of Ontario and other supporters.