VANCOUVER— Preparations are well underway for two days of Aboriginal celebrations in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The event is being organized in part by Debra Merrier of the CUPE BC Aboriginal working group at Oppenheimer Park (at 440 Powell St) on Saturday, June 18 and Tuesday, June 21.
This is the second year for the event, which coincides with National Aboriginal Day on Tuesday, June 21. The planning committee for this year’s event hit on the theme of Respect, Honour and Kindness as a natural for Native values.
“Respect has always been central in Native culture, as is honouring, with all the ceremonies and rituals. We chose kindness as a contrast to address bullying – to encourage an approach that includes quiet and listening,” says Dale Whitford, also of the CUPE BC Aboriginal Working Group. The respect part of the theme will be played out with a ‘blanketing’ ceremony for activist Kat Norris for her work in helping to set up the independent police inquiry board.
Last year Dale says there were 50-100 kids on the first day but this year they are gearing up for double that number. On hand will be drummers, crafting and language lessons as well as the Hobbema School of Rock and Roller Derby Girls.
“We focus on the children for the first day because it allows the kids to experience a lot of their own culture in a fun setting. They not only find out about their own culture from elders and teachers, but also find out about other aboriginal cultures,” Dale explains.
The aboriginal Roller Girls will be showing their acrobatic tricks as they race around the Oppenheimer park building. The Hobbema School of Rock is an aboriginal high school project from Alberta that tours the country with live music that lets children experience aboriginal music in a different way.
Expect to see lots of traditional dress at the festival, but not just aboriginal dress – Dale says everyone is being encouraged to wear their traditional garb – wherever they are from. And to eat…bison or venison for 500!
See the attached poster for more information.