Indigenous drummers, dancers lead Guelph Santa Claus parade

The Guelph Santa Claus Parade had a different look this year. An Indigenous group of drummers and dancers were at the head of the parade, followed by a group of new Canadians.

Parade 'not just a celebration of Christmas,' organizer says

For the first time ever, the Guelph Santa Claus Parade was led by an Indigenous group of drummers, flag bearers and dancers. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

This story has been updated to include photos of the parade.

The start of the Guelph Santa Claus Parade Sunday will be like no other before.

A group of Indigenous flag bearers, drummers and dancers will be at the head of this year's parade. It's the first time the Indigenous community has joined the parade.

Corey Trites is the resource and information specialist with the employment and training office Anishnabeg Outreach in both Guelph and Kitchener. She organized the group and said even though Christmas and Santa are European traditions, they wanted to take part in this annual city event.

"We're very much about the children," Trites said. "Christmas is for the children and for family."

A men's drum circle was on a float that led the Guelph Santa Claus Parade. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

She said at their offices, they often hold evenings where children can write to Santa and they have annual Christmas dinners.

"Some might celebrate it a little bit differently or have different meaning, but traditionally I think everybody does have some kind of connection to Christmas," she said. "There are times of the year that on holidays like this that we give our own thanks."

Listen to the interview with Corey Trites:

'Not just a celebration of Christmas'

Some members of the group will be on a float drumming while dancers and flag bearers will walk ahead of or alongside the float.

Trites said she hopes the parade will get more people interested in learning about their culture and traditions.

Sam Jewell with Downtown Guelph said they were thrilled when the group approached them about being in the parade.

Flag bearers led the Guelph Santa Claus Parade ahead of a float of Indigenous drummers. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

"It's a long time coming and we're hoping now it will happen every single year," she said.

She said the group will be followed by a group of new Canadians who will carry the parade banner, and this year Guelph Pride is also involved for the first time.

"It's not just a celebration of Christmas to us. It's just a great time of year for everybody to get together, boost morale with the onset of winter," Jewell said.

The Guelph Santa Claus Parade is scheduled Sunday at 1:30 p.m. There is a Santa Run on the parade route beforehand, then collection for the food bank before the parade begins.