KELOWNA, B.C. – A day of nationwide celebration was also commemorated in Kelowna Tuesday.
While Canada has recognized National Aboriginal Day for the past 20 years, it has been celebrated in Kelowna for the past 22, with festivities organized by the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society.
The day started with a traditional open-water paddle across Okanagan Lake in a canoe filled with indigenous youth, elders and a pair of RCMP officers – an important and significant gesture according to Cpl. Mike Williams.
“It’s just amazing to build the bridges and continue to watch that positive growth and interaction,” said Williams.
It’s been a tough but triumphant year for aboriginals in Canada, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission releasing its recommendations and just last month Canada endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“I think finally finally there will be some really positive changes,” said Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society executive director Edna Terbasket.
And while it’s a step in the right direction, Terbasket believes there’s still more work to be done.
Prayers, music and dancing were among some of the days activities.
Artisans were set up on Leon Avenue selling handcrafted clothes, goods and traditional food.
-With files from Sherisse Mousseau