by Chas Ko, summer student.

Every year on June 21st, Canadians all across the country celebrate the unique heritages, diverse cultures, as well as the contributions of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples of Canada. This day is acknowledged as National Aboriginal Day, and this year, I was given the opportunity to experience this festive event in the heart of Vancouver, BC at Trout Lake with members of CAAN.

The celebration started with a pancake breakfast hosted nearby by the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Center Society (VAFCS). To follow up a mighty satisfying stack of pancakes, Battered Women’s Support Services hosted on behalf of the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), a Friendship Walk, with a goal in mind “to have every First Nations and Aboriginal person active on Aboriginal Day” (FNHA).

The walk down Commercial and Victoria Drive consisted of singing, dancing, multiple drumming events, and even drum making!

Meanwhile the walk was making its way to Trout Lake, information booths, food tents, and the entertainment stage was getting prepared, coordinated to welcome, to kick off this exciting and inspiring event for our community!

I included, as a member of CAAN, with my mind set, dug through our boxes of resources. First piling the load onto the table, then avidly sorting and constructing an informative yet attractive presentation, I was just in time for the world to be enlightened at our booth about the works of CAAN. As the hour hit high noon with the sun blaring its restlessness for the commemoration, the wind also showed its interest, blowing between the rows of booths, sending my pamphlets flying off the table.

My supervisor “assisted” me in keeping the pamphlets pinned down with a roll of tape and multiple binder clips. He did a very good job of securing the resources, but seeing as it spoiled my delicate display of an informative afternoon, I sought for a clever method to correct his sense of creativity without mocking him. Grabbing more of the pin buttons he stuck on me earlier, that were meant to promote himself on his upcoming election, I swapped them with the tape and binder clips for an ingenious win-win situation.

With the CAAN booth set up nicely, I grabbed my camera and wandered off in the direction of the festal atmosphere.

I had first ended up at the main stage where a man dressed in detailed native clothing paid his respects, welcomed, and thanked everyone for attending this year’s National Aboriginal Day. I stayed and watched through a series of performances including, small recording band artists, drumming groups, large cultural choirs and dances.

Across the stage was the renowned Trout Lake where canoe demonstrations were held. Though I would have really enjoyed taking one of their Takaya Tours, the lineup was too long even for me to wait. So instead of being in the lineup, I took a picture of it instead.

Making my way back to the booth, I crossed a small tipi village set up for children’s activities and pow wow dancing with drum groups. Many children were ecstatic, but what caught my eye were the adorable children that never said a word, and focused so intensely on their arts and crafts.

The whole vicinity was filled with people not only thrilled to be a part of such an event, but to be with each other, and that is what I feel brings Aboriginal peoples together so well. So I hope you all make time next year to join, in whatever part of Canada you are in, and celebrate with us this meaningful and joyous day on 21st of June, National Aboriginal Day.

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