The sun shined brightly on the Green in Wortley Village on Friday as hundreds of Londoners gathered for Indigenous Solidarity Day celebrations.
The annual event has been ongoing for more than 15 years and has now found a home in the aforementioned park in the city’s Old South neighbourhood.
The day began early with a sunrise ceremony at 6 a.m. and later provided those attending with plenty of food, dance, crafts and chances to learn about all things Indigenous.
Dennis Whiteye works with Atlohsa Family Healing Services and served as master of ceremonies for the day.
He told 980 CFPL that the event offers an important teaching moment for those may have otherwise not known about ongoing Indigenous issues.
“I’ll do my best to share what happens and ideas of these gatherings based on generosity and not what these children may be depicting or told at school,” Whiteye said.
One of many who helped in teaching those attending Friday’s event was Danielle Hill, an Oneida Nation of the Thames woman who works with (+) Positive Voice at Nokee Kwe.
The group works by assisting women in transition phases who have to deal with the unique pressures placed on Canada’s Indigenous population. Much of the (+) Positive Voice’s work involves allow the women it serves to express themselves in artwork.
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Hill said that part of the joy of setting up a booth at an event like Indigenous Solidarity Day is being able to share information the public otherwise wouldn’t know.
“People that don’t know any better, that are a little ignorant about certain things, it’s just because they don’t know,” Hill said.
“Kind of taking that stigma away from, ‘I’m sorry for what we did to you,’ But it’s like, ‘No, no, no, let’s start over, let’s make that bridge, let’s make that connection.'”
Another teaching moment can be found in the artwork for Steve Maracle.
A Mohawk artist first taught in the Woodlands style of painting, Maracle’s most recent work has drawn inspiration from current issues affecting Canada’s Indigenous population.
“The murdered and missing Indigenous women is the biggest driver behind some of my painting,” Maracle said.
The day coincided with National Indigenous Peoples Day, which is celebrated annually in Canada on June 21.
Speaking of the London event, Whiteye added that 2019’s Indigenous Solidarity Day was bigger than its been in years’ past.
More sights from Friday’s event can be found in the gallery below.