Jubilee Park in Wetaskiwin and Maskwacis Bear Park in Hobbema were abound with activities on June 21st, 2012. It was the annual celebration of National Aboriginal Day (NAD). This day is a time for all Canadians to recognize the unique heritage, the diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. It is also a time when the aboriginal community gathers together for a family outing.
In the late 1870’s dwindling buffalo herds and the arrival of white settlers to the area forced the natives to retire to a reserve at Hobbema and to co-inhabit the region with the white settlers. This region has undergone significant changes during those 125 years but what hasn’t changed is we are neighbours and Aboriginal Day is an opportunity to embrace that relationship.
On June 21st, celebrations in Wetaskiwin and Hobbema brought the communities together to learn about the Aboriginal culture and have fun together. It was a celebration of Aboriginal culture and traditions. It was a day that enabled both the aboriginal people and guests the enjoyment provided by the First Nations Dancers, Metis dancers and music, First Nations Drummers, Teepee raising and teaching and displays providing information about programs and services available to the aboriginal people and the guests.
Tanja Baker, Community Engagement Specialist, Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority explained the importance of hosting such a day in Wetaskiwin. “The Aboriginal culture is part of the social fabric of the Wetaskiwin community. Wetaskiwin was founded and named by the Cree people of Hobbema (Maskwacis). Our celebration is attempting to honor the Aboriginal groups of Canada, i.e. First Nations, Métis, Inuit. Our celebration is also a partnership with community agencies. By their participation we are able to educate community members about how an agency can help, should they be seeking assistance of some sort. Most importantly, this event exposes others to the Aboriginal culture and provides a learning opportunity for all participants.”
At the Niwihcihaw Acceptance Ltd. Aboriginal Day celebration at Maskwacis Bear Park in Hobbema, it was a ‘family day’. Partakers ranging in age from elderly to babies shared activities such as wagon rides, assembling of 4 TeePees, children’s activities and the PowWow grand entry. Of particular interest, was the booth where the ‘treaty pay clerk’, Matthew Yu, supervised by RCMP officer Perry Cardinal, handed out $5 treaty payments to the eligible aboriginal recipients.
In Wetaskiwin, “The National Aboriginal Day Event is put on by approximately 30 organizations that provide services and programs in the community of Wetaskiwin”, explained Tanja. “The Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority is the sponsor of the event although the contributions of many organizations make the event possible.” Greetings were brought by the Honorable Verlyn Olson, Elder Gordon Lee, Mayor of Wetaskiwin, Bill Elliot and Central Alberta CFSA Co-chair Lori McCrea. A written statement from Member of Parliament, Blaine Calkins was read.
Congratulations to our Aboriginal neighbors for sharing such an important day and showcasing their culture and skills for the guests.
For more information about Central Alberta CFSA and their commitment to Aboriginal children, youth and families contact Tanja Baker, Community Engagement Specialist, Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority at 403 755-1425.