Thursday, 21 June 2018

NIPD at Holland Park

I was so glad that I was able to attend the National Indigenous Peoples Day ceremony at Holland Park in Surrey today. The timing worked out well because my grade 7 practicum students graduated this morning, so I headed down to the park when that was finished.

Before the welcoming address, there were four men singing and playing drums together, and I remember noting how impressive it was how their singing was so cohesive yet also so complex in the way they constantly switch tone.

We were then welcomed by the three Coast Salish nations whose land the ceremony was being held on: Semiahmoo, Katzie and Kwantlen. I found this really interesting especially because my practicum school would always do a land acknowledgement of those nations before an assembly, so being able to see and hear from representatives of those nations was a privilege. There were also two RCMP officers there, and while I didn't get a picture, I remember so vividly how after welcoming everyone the leaders went over and HUGGED the officers! I thought that was an amazing symbol of the progress that has been made with regards to reconciliation.

After the welcome ceremony, the rest of the day was committed to "cultural sharing." There were a number of traditional Indigenous songs and dances shared with us, and my favourite is shown above: a woman in bright yellow led a group of kindergarten students through a dance I'm sure they'd been practicing for a while, thought it took the kids quite some time to get comfortable enough to dance in front of such a large audience. I gotta say, it was super cute.

There were tons of tents sent up with resources and information about ways to get involved in the community, as well as games and activities for everyone (there was a huge chess board set up where all the pieces were 3 or 4 feet tall! There was also tons of food being given out for free, as each person attending was given a ticket for a bbq item and a piece of bannock.

I was really glad I got to attend this event, particularly because of the incredible display of mutual respect between communities that I witnessed. Surrey is a very ethnically diverse city, and at the celebration today that diversity really showed, and in such a positive way. I think that despite the fact that we all come from different places and have different personal histories, we can unite and work towards reconciliation together, as communities that respect each other and work alongside each other.

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