June 21 means the first day of summer for most people, but for Canada’s indigenous people it also means Aboriginal Day.
To celebrate the holiday, Seabird Island Band hosted their annual Aboriginal Day event at the band office.
Angie Chapman, Seabird Island Band’s Program Manager of Community Services explained that the event is intended to share and educate others on aboriginal culture.
“Aboriginal Day is an event that we bring people together to showcase our culture and celebrate it together,” she said, noting that the event is “not only for First Nations people, but for Metis and Inuit as well.”
The event featured numerous bouncy castles, First Nations crafts, face painting, first nations games and relay races, lessons on playing Slahal, and a traditional salmon and bannock meal.
While indigenous people have been celebrating the day for centuries, it only recently became recognized as a national holiday.
“In 1996 the Governor of Canada marked this day as a statutory holiday for First Nations people because we celebrated it already, due to the summer solstice,” Chapman said.
The Seabird Island Band isn’t the only band celebrating the day, and while attendance number are still high, Chapman noticed a difference over the years.
“It varies because there’s so many events happening all over the Fraser Valley,” she said.
While the event wouldn’t be possible without the many volunteer and members of Seabird Island, Chapman noted the importance of other help as well.
“This project has been made possible by the Government of Canada, plus the Seabird Island Band,” she said.