As the sun rose on the longest day of the year, a traditional summer solstice sunrise ceremony took place in the northern city of Thompson, Manitoba.
“We wanted everyone to be aware of the day, the diversity of our people, the humour of our people and the love that our people give,” said Shyanna Lynxleg.
Lynxleg, who is the Urban Initiative Manager for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and Chair of the National Indigenous Planning Committee, says celebrating and acknowledging the day is important for erasing negative stigmas that can sometimes be attached to her people.
Thompson is holding mostly virtual celebrations to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day due to pandemic protocols. Alongside the flag raising, MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee gave gifts to local organizations like the RCMP and the Thompson Fire and Emergency Services to honour the beginning of a new youth cultural celebration.
Lynxleg says raising an Indigenous flag at city hall was a positive sign in recent years, as it has never flown before the last three years.
“We wanted everyone to enjoy the day, and to come and celebrate our culture with us. It’s a great day to do things at home. It’s a virtual celebration of Indigenous peoples and our cultures. We wanted to include everybody within Thompson,” Lynxleg said.
“At this point in time with the pandemic, we just wanted a lot of joy and laughter to occur in homes while watching online.”
Lynxleg says social distancing protocols will be in place, and she reminded audiences everything is online and live streamed to their Facebook page and the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Nation page.
There will be a drumming ceremony, an art decorating contest in the Indigenous People’s Day theme, a window and balcony decorating contest, along with a first-ever scavenger hunt. Also, locally-loved puppets Kookum and Mishoom will be interviewing Thompson citizens throughout the day.
Reconciliation in Portage la Prairie
In Portage la Prairie, there was a Treaty 1 flag-raising ceremony this morning and the signing of a proclamation declaring National Indigenous Peoples Day in the city by surrounding chiefs and Mayor Irvine Ferris.
Dakota Tipi First Nation Chief Eric Pashe says the event is a necessary starting point for reconciliation.
“Today we continue to work toward resolution on strong work plans that will, I believe, eventually lead toward strong reconciliation among all our people.”
Also today, a billboard was erected in Dakota Tipi First Nation to honour those who attended residential schools. A drum was presented to the community from the Treaty 4 Territory in Saskatchewan from the Kamloops, BC, region where 215 unmarked graves were uncovered last month.
Week-long celebrations in Selkirk
The City of Selkirk has been celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day all week long, from June 14-21.
Lorie Fiddler, director of Selkirk Friendship Centre Daycare, says the pandemic has changed the way they hold events this year.
“We always have this huge celebration in Selkirk park. It’s amazing. Not being able to do anything last year, we thought, we have to do some virtual, safe, self-directed activities,” says Fiddler.
“I’d love for people to come out and visit our beautiful park, attempt the scavenger hunt until midnight tonight. The park is phenomenal, people won’t regret the trip if they’re coming from anywhere.”
Some unique events taking place are a virtual duck dressing and cooking event, as well as Bucky Anderson’s Métis music van driving around with music, Fiddler says. Anderson has been doing community outreach with the van to cheer people up. A tales and trails story walk featuring an Indigenous author is also offered for families.
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