SEVERAL NEW highlights have been added to the Aboriginal Day celebrations here set for this weekend.
Set to open with a traditional ceremony, this Saturday is packed with events and activities for everyone.
The theme “Empowering our Future” refers to showcasing the talents of people in the community, including the performers, role models and, for the first year, the graduation ceremony of the Head Start programs.
The Head Start children from Kitsumkalum, Kitselas and the Kermode Head Start programs will graduate up to kindergarten, says Carmen Henry, chairperson of the organizing committee for Aboriginal Days.
The children will be escorted by the Suwilaawks Community School drum group.
This year’s celebration will feature more entertainment as more bands, soloists and dancers will perform than last year.
Dance groups are coming from Kitimat and Prince Rupert as well as around the Terrace area.
The dancers start out with the Xbi’Shuundts Dance Group, named for an elder held in high esteem, who are part of the opening ceremony.
The traditional ceremony to open the day’s events will include the formality of acknowledging with respect that the events will take place on Tsimshian First Nation territory, and asking permission to use the land for the day, says Henry.
A ceremonial piece is handed from the Xbi’Shuundts Dance Group to Kermode Friendship Society as a symbolic gesture that gives Kermode the blessings to hold the event for the day, she explains.
At the end of the day, the ceremonial piece is handed back.
In the afternoon, the Origin Story will be told of how the four crests came to be.
Each crest – eagle, raven, wolf and killer whale – is associated with a different race and the story tells about which gifts each one contributes.
As the story is told, children get to pass around a globe and sing and dance.
For the second year, the Kermode prince and princess will be crowned with last year’s prince and princess passing their crowns to those chosen for the next year.
The prince and princess will be featured in the Riverboat Days parade and at special events as role models throughout the next year, says Henry.
Kody Kermode will be out and about this year again and may even dance with the performing groups again.
One thing that hopefully will happen is that powwow dancers will show up as invitations have gone out, says Henry.
“If any show up, we would love to throw them up on stage,” she says.
Henry says it’s her third year on the committee to organize the festivities and there are more people who want to participate in the day’s celebration than ever before.
So many in fact, that times for each band and other performances had to be set to the exactly minute so everyone could be fit in.
The 10-member committee put a lot of hard work into organizing the events, including spending one whole day on just sorting out the agenda, she says.
In addition to all the events, there will be traditional foods, food vendors, craft vendors, information booths, family fun activities, a children’s jump castle, face painting and free entertainment.
Several bands will play to wrap up the day’s activities from about 5:30 p.m. onward to the closing, which is later this year.
Park hours have been extended so the day’s celebration will carry on until the 9 p.m. closing, says Henry.
Anyone who wants to volunteer or any vendors that want to be there for the day are welcome to call Kermode Friendship Society to show their interest right up to the Aboriginal Day celebration.
Everyone is welcome to come celebrate the day.
All events are free at the park, people will just need money to buy food from the vendors on-site.
Aboriginal Day celebrations take place this Saturday, June 25 in George Little Park starting at 8 a.m. with the display and vendor setup and the opening ceremony at 10 a.m.