Monday, June 25, 2012

Aboriginal Day ~ McDonald Park ~ Kamloops, BC

Aboriginal Days were founded to recognize the culture and the contribution the First Nations, Metis and Inuit make to society. The Metis are now recognized by every level of government as being a nation. Aboriginal Day was declared in 1996 and has since been celebrated in many parts of the country.
The sign of McDonald Park with the tents and booths set up across the park.
Aboriginal Days celebrated at McDonald Park in Kamloops, BC
Many regions already celebrated the Summer Solstice because it holds specific meaning that it is the longest day of the year when the sun is at it’s highest peak in the northern hemisphere and also time for the first harvest.  It now holds a much more symbolic significance to the Metis since the declaration of Aboriginal Days. 
The three flags are displayed standing tall.
The flags of the Metis, British Columbia and Canada
The Blue Metis national flag is an infinity symbol, which looks like a sideways eight.  This signified the joining of two cultures and the existence of a people within the political and military force of the Metis going back as early as 1816.

Tents, pelts, drums and set up for all to see
Teepees and other traditional items are displayed at Aboriginal Days in Kamloops
Canada’s Metis have their own language and flag and are the only mixed blood people in the world to be considered a nation.  We are here with many for the celebration of Aboriginal Days and appreciate what it means at McDonald Park on this day of Summer Solstice.

posters to illustrate the organization
 Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services
The Metis family is a support system to help build healthy Metis communties based on their traditional family values.  They have the support of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Metis Commission for Children and Families of BC as well as  members of the local Metis community. 
There are several displays with the teepee to show what they may have looked like in those days of teepees.
Dreamweavers and dried pelts displayed for Aboriginal Days in McDonald Park
The Interior Metis Child and Family Services officially became Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services in March 2012.  Michif is the language of the Metis and otipemisiwak means people who own or govern themselves, a term originating from the Cree.  
Young dancer in costume stands on a grassy area practicing his moves.
Young dancer awaits his turn at Aboriginal Day in McDonald Park
Interior Health funds the Michif Community Kitchen that has educational guided field trips to learn how to find and prepare food then also teaches meal preparations that include traditional foods. 
Several drums sit on the grass with tools
Instruments of the Metis drummer
The Michif Writing Workshop brings the elders to share their life experiences to the youth.  This is just one program available that will help to continue on the traditions of the past.   This is necessary to make sure their stories are not lost but remain and are taught in the form of songs, poems, stories and drawings. 
They gathered for lunch and the afternoon dancing performances.
Hundreds were there to enjoy Aboriginal Days in Kamloops, BC
The City of Kamloops is supplying funds to help create the Wall of Honour to celebrate the lives of some of the extraordinary elders in this community. Projects such as these will help teach the young about their ancestry and broaden the understanding of their culture.

To learn more about the Metis and their culture or any programs mentioned here you may wish to participate in, click here for more information and their location.