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Hundreds gather for National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations in Whitehorse

On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in downtown Whitehorse to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. The day — which falls on the summer solstice — is meant to recognize and honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures.

Dakhká Khwáan dancer says June 21 is about 'celebrating our culture'

Dakhká Khwáan Dancers perform outside the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. (Maya Lach-Aidelbaum/CBC)

Hundreds of people gathered at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in downtown Whitehorse to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on Tuesday.  The day — which falls on the summer solstice — is meant to recognize and honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures.

Jessie Dawson, councillor with the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, spoke at the opening ceremony for the day's events. She said the holiday "is a day we can feel pride and say 'this is who I am, this is where we are, and this is where I come from.'"

There were many activities throughout the day, including musical performances by Indigenous artists, a crafts market and the carving of a dugout canoe. Indigenous hip-hop band Snotty Nose Rez Kids were scheduled to perform at 9 p.m.

Kwanlin Dün councillor Jessie Dawson speaks at the National Indigenous Peoples Day opening ceremony at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. (Maya Lach-Aidelbaum/CBC)
Attendees stand to watch the opening ceremony. (Maya Lach-Aidelbaum/CBC)
Dakhká Khwáan Dancers perform at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse on Tuesday, where hundreds of people gathered a to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.  (Maya Lach-Aidelbaum/CBC)

For Ron Rousseau, a  Dakhká Khwáan dancer, June 21 is "not about truth and reconciliation." Rather, it's about "celebrating our culture, about sharing our dance and our song that was taken away for so many years."

Lorraine and Ron Rousseau take part in National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations on Tuesday. (Maya Lach-Aidelbaum/CBC)
People create a dynamic salmon sculpture in downtown Whitehorse on Tuesday. (Maya Lach-Aidelbaum/CBC)

Telecommunications company Northwestel provided free bannock and stew to those attending the events.

Telecommunications company Northwestel provided free bannock and stew to people attending events at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. (Maya Lach-Aidelbaum/CBC)
Ben Charlie, left, and Carl Carpentier perform music for National Indigenous Peoples Day. Charlie is originally from Old Crow and Carpentier is a member of the Tahltan First Nation from Telegraph Creek, B.C. (Maya Lach-Aidelbaum/CBC)

Several public figures took part in a salmon bake off, including Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai, Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations Peter Johnston, Yukon NDP leader Kate White, Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations Kluane Adamek and Commissioner of Yukon Angélique Bernard.

Pillai won first place for his salmon made using sea salt his mother collected from the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Nova Scotia.

From left to right: Yukon NDP leader Kate White, Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations Kluane Adamek, Commissioner of Yukon Angélique Bernard, Yukon Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai and Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations Peter Johnston take part in a salmon bake off. (Maya Lach-Aidelbaum/CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maya Lach-Aidelbaum is a reporter with CBC Yukon. She has previously worked with CBC News in Toronto and Montreal. You can reach her at maya.lach.aidelbaum@cbc.ca

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