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Kingston celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day at Confederation Basin

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WATCH: Downtown Kingston plays host to National Indigenous Peoples Day – Jun 21, 2019

Friday was National Indigenous Peoples Day, a time to recognize Canada’s First Nations and celebrate their art, languages, music and culture.

Kingston’s celebration took place at Confederation Basin in front of City Hall. Lynda Gerow was a member of the organizing committee that helped put on the four-hour gathering.

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“Because it’s the summer solstice, it’s a day that we would have normally recognized and celebrated the end of the long winter and the beginning of the summer,” Gerow explained.

“So for us, now it’s a way of celebrating who we are and the fact that we’re still here — celebrating not only our traditions but the fact we are evolving.”

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WATCH: Sunrise ceremony kicks off National Indigenous Peoples Day

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Sunrise ceremony kicks off National Indigenous Peoples Day – Jun 21, 2019

The celebration wasn’t intended to be political, but one person waded into the debate. Kingston and the Islands MPP Ian Arthur talked about the plight of Indigenous peoples.

“Let’s not just have words and speeches on days, let’s take action,” Arthur said. “Let’s put the money where it needs to be. Let’s acknowledge that it’s a genocide; let’s acknowledge that the colonial legacy of our past is so, so present and let’s change.”

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Gerow shared her thoughts on Arthur’s address.

“It was very much the elephant in the room,” Gerow said. “And I really, really give him credit to step into that uncomfortableness and to own it.”

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Click to play video: 'Sunrise ceremony kicks off National Indigenous Peoples Day' Sunrise ceremony kicks off National Indigenous Peoples Day
Sunrise ceremony kicks off National Indigenous Peoples Day – Jun 21, 2019

Beside the speeches, the afternoon included drumming as well as Indigenous food, music and art.

This marked the eighth year for the Kingston event.

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