The faces of National Indigenous Peoples Day in London

Thousands took to the Wortley Village Green in London to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. Here are just a few who proudly wore their regalia.

An estimated 1,500 people show up each year for NIPD celebrations in Wortley Village

Attendees in cultural regalia at National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Wortley Village Green in London, Ontario on June 21, 2019. (Travis Dolynny/CBC)

A large crowd took to the Wortley Village Green in London, Ont. to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day Friday.

From the sunrise ceremony to kick off the day's festivities to a day full of live music, dance and even lacrosse, many Indigenous people from nearby First Nations - including Oneida and Chippewa of the Thames - performed cultural dances in colourful and elaborate regalia, which can take up to a year or longer to create.

CBC London spoke to a few of those who took part.

Sandra Albert and her five-year-old daughter Osto:sli are shawl dancers from Delaware, Ontario. (Chris dela Torre/CBC)

Sandra and Osto:sli Albert

"I'm a shawl dancer and so is my five-year-old daughter, Osto:sli (which means 'feather'). Shawl dances represent the butterfly - very energetic and very colourful. A lot of our dancers are marathon runners and volleyball players. It's a very energetic dance and a lot of exercise! I made our outfits, and I usually make outfits for other people and their kids. So when I come to events like this, I can see some of the outfits and the work I've done on other little kids. It takes a long time. I usually start in the fall to be finished for the spring. There's a bit of a story behind these outfits we're wearing - black, white and red were the colours of one of the first competitive outfits I had that my father made me. So when I got older and had my own family, I decided to use those colours again on my daughter's outfit." 

Osto:sli added, "But I like my blue one better!"

17-year-old Liam Sands danced the Men's Fancy Dance at the National Indigenous Peoples Day festivities at the Wortley Village Green in London. (Chris dela Torre/CBC)

Liam Sands

"I'm 17 and I grew up in London, but my background is Cree, Ojibwe, Oneida and Seneca. I dance the Men's Fancy Dance. It's fast and upbeat, and originated from Northern Oklahoma and the Ponca people. I've been dancing ever since I can remember. My parents got me into it -- I wasn't really into it for a while, but at a certain age I started to develop a passion for it. I don't walk around and tell people I do this stuff, but it helps me with the little things, like who I am as a person, and my behaviours and values. It really plays a big role in that. As for my regalia, a friend of my parents' made this but usually my parents make them for me. I'm scheduled to start making my own for next time. My Dad told me 'I'm not making any more for you, I've got other kids to make outfits for (laughs)!'"

12-year-old Tacoma Salter of London performed the fancy dance at the National Indigenous Peoples Day festivities at the Wortley Village Green on June 21, 2019. (Chris dela Torre/CBC)

Tacoma Salter

"I'm 12 years old and I grew up here in the city, but my background is Oneida First Nation. The dance I'm doing is the Fancy Dance -- it's fast and fancy with a lot of footwork. My Mom and my sister did all of this work that I'm wearing. They sewed it and beaded it. Just this front part took three months and the rest took at least a year. We put these compact discs on the arms of my regalia because it shines in the sun. A lot of people put them on their outfits -- not the professional dancers, but a lot of people will slap stuff together and still have fun. I've been doing this since I was a baby. I like dancing because it makes me feel good. Once you're out in that circle, you're not worried about anything else. It's fun and it makes you feel good. I love seeing all these different people here, because they're supporting Aboriginal Day. 

Interviews were edited and condensed.


Chris dela Torre

Host of The Homestretch

Chris dela Torre is the host of The Homestretch on CBC Radio One in Calgary. He is the former host of Afternoon Drive in southwestern Ontario, and has guesthosted several national CBC programs, including q, The Story From Here and Mornings on CBC Music.