Hundreds celebrate National Aboriginal Day in Regina

Hundreds of people in Regina attended National Aboriginal Day celebrations, which included a grand entry, a pow wow and Métis fiddling and jigging, Saturday.

This year marks the 18th anniversary of Regina's National Aboriginal Day celebrations

A grand entry kicked off National Aboriginal Day celebrations in Regina Saturday. (Roxanna Woloshyn/CBC)

It's the 18th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day (NAD) celebrations in Regina and hundreds gathered at Wascana Park to celebrate.

Dickie Yuzicapi is the cultural attaché for the city's Aboriginal Day events. He and his wife have been organizing the event for the last 14 years.

"This is the day we share our culture with all nations and so everyone is welcome to come down," said Yuzicapi.

Dickie Yuzicapi has been organizing National Aboriginal Day celebrations in Regina for the last 14 years. (Roxanna Woloshyn/CBC )

The day started off with a grand entry made up of traditional dancers and both aboriginal and non-aboriginal dignitaries.

Yuzicapi said he expected more people to attend the events Saturday morning, but explained the day usually falls during the week when more people are able to attend.

There are several other pow wows in the Regina area this weekend, which he said may have affected the turnout. Soggy weather conditions were also a factor.

Kevin Nahnepowisk has been dancing in pow wows for the last 35 years. (Roxanna Woloshyn/CBC)

But that did not stop a crowd of a few hundred people, two groups of drummers and two dozen traditional dancers from attending.

Kevin Nahnepowisk led the grand entry and later danced the men's old style grass dance, which is meant for spiritual healing.

"I have been dancing for 35 years. It's my culture. I enjoy dancing and we all try to come together as one (in) friendship," said Nahnepowisk.

Later, dancers participated in a round dance and an inter-tribal dance. They invited non-aboriginal people to join in.

Darrylyn Klyne says she is proud to dance on National Aboriginal Day. (Roxanan Woloshyn/CBC)

Darrylyn Klyne, a fancy shawl dancer who is in grade nine, said she wants non-aboriginal people to see how aboriginal people celebrate their strong culture.

"I want people to know it's a lot of (dancing) and anybody can do it. It's not just aboriginals who can do it. You could be any culture," said Klyne.

It's not just aboriginals who can do it. You could be any culture- Darrylyn Klyne, traditional dancer

Many non-aboriginal people did make Wascana Park a destination Saturday.

Jolene Siemens has no aboriginal heritage, but she brought her young daughter along to take in the festivities.

"It is very important because it is such a large part of our provincial culture and I want Grace to eventually understand it," said Siemens.

Yuzicapi said that while some victories have been made for aboriginal people in recent years, there is more to do.

"There is a lot more work that needs to be done. Even our own people need to be educated in our own culture. A lot of our cultures and our ceremonies and our languages are being lost because no one is taking the initiative to learn them," said Yuzicapi.

Yuzicapi said National Aboriginal Day is the perfect showcase to remind Canadians of why it is so important to preserve aboriginal culture.