The Seabird Island Band is hosting their annual First Nations Festival, and 47 years later the weekend event still focuses on the importance of bringing together communities.
Seabird Island Band’s program manager of community services Angie Chapman said the tournament gives family and friends time to see each other and spend quality time together.
“We started this event as just tournaments where people can gather and see one another, and we still believe in that,” Chapman said. “Our tournaments are meant to bring nations together and to visit with family and friends that you haven’t seen in a while.”
When the festival originally started, it only featured canoe races and adult soccer games. Over the years, it expanded to include youth tournaments, as well as ball hockey and lacrosse, and a traditional salmon barbecue.
Although there will be over 70 teams competing in the tournament, Chapman noted that a lower attendance is expected this year, due to another canoe race on Vancouver Island.
“It depends on the other communities and where they want to travel,” she said. “Now there’s another race on the Island the same weekend as us.”
And for those that aren’t interested in participating on the water, there will be plenty of opportunities to learn about traditional First Nations culture.
“It’s a good event to come to, [and] to see our traditional race events,” Chapman added. “You get to see and witness the traditional barbecue pits and ask questions if you want to know about what they’re doing or how they’re doing it.”
While the games are the main focus of the event, they’re not the only attraction. Arts and crafts, various vendors, and even a bouncy castle zone, leaves something for everybody during the festival on May 27 and 28 on Seabird Island. Games are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.