Edmontonians celebrate National Aboriginal Day

On Saturday, thousands participated in events held across the city for National Aboriginal Day.

Thousands of people of all backgrounds participated in events held across the city for National Aboriginal Day on Saturday.

Many came down to the legislature grounds to check out the artisan fair and various cultural exhibits on display — and most were there to see the ceremonial honouring.

The grand entry featured traditional dancing, drumming and singing, much to Sharon Bellrose’s pleasure.

“It was nice to have the grand entry, showing what the Métis, Inuit and [First Nations] people are,” she said. “The culture, it’s important.”

Jaret Sinclair-Gibson, the executive director of the Sun and Moon Visionaries Aboriginal Artisan Society, said this year’s celebration was particularly significant.

The Truth and Reconciliation commission, delving into the sordid legacy of Canada’s Indian residential schools, wrapped up in Edmonton in March. Mayor Don Iveson proclaimed an entire year of reconciliation in Edmonton.

“It’s special, to come around to truth and reconciliation,” said Sinclair-Gibson. “It’s just a continuation and growth.”

National Aboriginal Day was established by the Federal government in 1966 to showcase the diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures — but it’s not just a day for aboriginal people.

Many non-aboriginals came to the legislature, observed the entry and ceremony and took time to check out the fair.

“It’s really the pride of our community, coming forward and bringing such beautiful art and culture to the general community,” said Sinclair-Gibson. “It’s a great opportunity for all of us to learn.”