With a multitude of events taking place for Aboriginal Day in Hay River last week, some organizers said they would like to see their efforts combined for one big event next year.
“It should be a unified thing,” said Doug Lamalice. “We should be doing it all together, showcasing and celebrating our aboriginal culture.”
While the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre hosted a fish fry on Saturday, the museum, the Hay River Métis Government Council and the K’atlodeeche First Nation all held extensive events on Sunday. KFN’s show included both demonstrations of traditional culture and music at the arbour and a flea market at the Chief Lamalice Complex.
“In the past, we would have carnivals and get together to show off our bush skills,” said Lamalice. “It’s about re-living that and hanging onto that pride and continuity of who we are as Dene people. If we don’t keep that pride, we’ll be just another Canadian citizen in 20 years.”
Chief Roy Fabian could not attend, but Coun. Pat Martel spoke to begin the events in his stead. He said much like mother’s and father’s day, he felt Aboriginal Day was every day.
“Every day that I’m with my mother is mothers’ day. Every day that I’m with my father, learning and being in the bush is fathers’ day,” he said. “I still remember everything he taught me… Aboriginal Day is a really important day for aboriginal people.”
Across the river, the Métis celebrations featured a lot of food – including donated caribou meat – as well as cultural activities. Coun. Trevor Beck, however, said he suspected turnout would be relatively low as a result of all the other events going on. He agreed that it would make sense to work together in the future so as to not be competing against one another for people.
“It’s a chance to get together and celebrate our Métisness,” he said. “It’s important to be out here, it’s about everyone, not just aboriginal people. Being Métis is more about being good people ourselves. That’s what I tell my kids.”
Métis council president Karen Lafferty said the day is an opportunity to reach out not only to Métis but everyone.
“It’s about celebrating our ancestors and paying tribute to them,” she said. “It brings people together, and we wanted to do something for everyone. We’re very proud of our culture and we like the chance to cook our food and feed our people, and teach people who aren’t aboriginal about our culture.”