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Halifax Kana’ta Day celebrations rooted in inclusivity, awareness

Click to play video: 'Halifax celebrates Kana’ta Day, with focus on Mi’kmaw culture' Halifax celebrates Kana’ta Day, with focus on Mi’kmaw culture
WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds of people flocked to downtown Halifax to take in Canada Day celebrations, which included a focus on connecting people to Mi’kmaw culture and language through a new partnership. Alexa MacLean has more – Jul 1, 2022

Hundreds of people flocked to downtown Halifax to take in Canada Day celebrations that included a focus on connecting people to Mi’kmaw language and culture.

Halifax Regional Municipality partnered with the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre to host the celebrations.

“We are here celebrating Canada Day, or Kana’ta Day, which is how we say Canada in Mi’kmaq,” said Cheryl Copage-Gehue, the municipality’s Indigenous community advisor.

“We have reimagined, re-envisioned, and refocused, what could Canada Day look like with a more inclusive lens and having a bit of an Indigenous focus, so we could have an opportunity to share our culture, share our traditions, on this great day.”

The Kana’ta Day celebrations had a focus on Mi’kmaw culture and language. Global News

Read more: Communities reimagining celebrations to honour Indigenous people on Canada Day

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Copage-Gehue said the partnership between the municipality and the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre is an important step forward along the path of reconciliation, following a year when the unmarked graves of hundreds of Indigenous children were found at former residential school sites across Canada.

Part of the day’s events included Mawio’mi on the Commons, which had music, crafts, games and authentic Indigenous cuisine.

People march in the parade in Halifax on Canada Day. Alexa MacLean/Global News

The celebrations opened with the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo Parade.

“I felt it was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and to know Canada more,” said newcomer Azuka Onwuka, who took in the parade Friday morning on his way to the commons.

Read more: Thousands gather in Victoria Park for Turtle Island Healing Walk in London, Ont.

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Onwuka was there with a group of fellow recent immigrants brought together by Ian Shephard, an English language teacher and founder of Right Star Newcomer Services.

“We provide events like this, Canada Day, tours of the city, and English learning opportunities for newcomers to Canada,” Shephard said.

Ian Shepherd says the celebrations are a good opportunity for newcomers to gain language skills. Alexa MacLean/Global News

He said those opportunities, like the Kana’ta Day celebrations, enrich both his life and the lives of those he works with.

“Getting people together in person and seeing their smiles, and making those connections, help facilitating those connections — it’s been really rewarding for me,” he said.

Added Onwuka: “It’s a wonderful feeling to see people again, to be with people, to talk with people.”

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