PEI

National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations on P.E.I. battle weather

Heavy rain may have put a bit of a damper on National Indigenous Peoples Day on P.E.I. — celebrated Friday on Lennox Island — but there were still events to be part of.

Drummers, dancers, crafts, food and culture were on display

Xavier Thomas, 6, wears a mix of traditional and modern clothing as he performs a traditional dance with Mi’kmaq drummers. Xavier’s mother, Jamie Thomas, says her son has picked it up on his own. (Brain Higgins/CBC)

Heavy rain may have put a bit of a damper on National Indigenous Peoples Day on P.E.I. — celebrated Friday on Lennox Island — but there were still events to be part of.

One event has been postponed.

The International Year of the Salmon event was supposed to take place by the water, but because of the rain that won't happen until next week, said Julie Pellissier-Lush, community consultation co-ordinator with the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I.

The rest of the celebration was moved inside John J. Sark Memorial School and had drummers, dancers, children's activities, giveaways and a barbecue, Pellissier-Lush said.

Six-year-old Xavier Thomas was at the event, he wore a mix of traditional and modern clothing and performed a traditional dance with Mi'kmaq drummers.

Val Jadis displays her beadwork, with her sister, Kelly Sark. The red dress commemorates missing and murdered Indigenous women. The orange shirt honours survivors of residential schools. (Brain Higgins/CBC)

Xavier's mother, Jamie Thomas, said she is proud of her son.

"He's been doing it since he was like three."

She said the family plans to hit the powwow circuit this summer throughout the Maritimes.

Crafts on display

Local oysters prepared by an Indigenous chef were on the menu and there were also crafts on display. 

We can say it is just words, but to me I think that action — the actions that come from it will speak louder.— Lennox Island Chief Darlene Bernard

Val Jadis was displaying beadwork she created, red dresses to represent missing and murdered Indigenous woman and orange shirts, to represents residential school survivors, she said.

"I can go missing, it can happen to me and I just want to spread more awareness"

Celebrations help foster relationships

Chief Darlene Bernard, who recently won another opportunity to serve as chief of Lennox Island, said the day is part of Canada's effort toward reconciliation.

"I believe this is a good beginning. You know, we can say it is just words, but to me I think that action — the actions that come from it will speak louder."

All of the events were open to the public, Pellissier-Lush said.

The new name, National Indigenous Peoples Day, was declared two years ago.

Lennox Island Chief Darlene Bernard wore traditional clothing to Friday's events. The newly elected chief and council were officially sworn into office as part of event. It’s the first time in band history council has taken the oaths of office in public. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Pellissier-Lush said the celebrations help foster relationships.

"We really, in the last little while, we have been going one on one. We have been going person to person, organization to organization, community to community, nation to nation."

Pellissier-Lush said she expects the day of celebration to continue growing.

 "We really have been developing so many amazing relationships and partnerships."

Flag raising

There was also a Mi'kmaq National Flag Raising Ceremony at the Confederation Centre of the Arts that took place at 3 p.m.

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With files from Island Morning and Brian Higgins

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