National Indigenous People’s Day a success in Regina
- Darla Ponace | July 11, 2023
Thousands of people gathered in downtown Regina to celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day.
The annual event held each year on June 21st is organized by the City of Regina and each year it grows.
“We have done shows in Regina for this same event in the past and so I found that this was probably one of the largest events that I have seen in Victoria Park,” said lead dancer Amy Seesequasis with Creeland Dancers.
The downtown celebration started more than 10 years ago with a small celebration held in the Henry Baker Hall located in City Hall.
This year’s event filled up the F.W. Hill Mall, Pat Fiacco Square and Victoria Park.
Although it has grown over the years, the goal of the NIPD celebrations remains unchanged − to showcase Indigenous culture through, art, dance, song and entertainment.
The event is free and open to the public.
This year it included Inuit throat singing, spoken word poetry, powwow dance demonstrations, jigging along with food, jewelry and clothing vendors.
The Creeland Dancers from Beardy's and Okemasis Cree Nation wowed the audience with their fast-paced choreography set to fiddle music.
Seesequasis said it’s important for Indigenous people to have a safe place to participate in their culture. She was happy to see many non-Indigenous people come out for the celebration and have fun.
“I think it is also important for community members who are of settler and newcomer backgrounds to be able to come to these events because then it helps to foster more of a safe community,” she said. “I appreciated seeing a lot of those communities there, because we want them to be able to come to these spaces and learn as well.”
Seesequasis and her group performed the Métis Red River jig to loud applause from the crowd.
“I think it was received really well, because there was an opportunity in one of our shows for people to interact with us and learn the dance style that we perform, so, I think people appreciated that,” said Seesequasis.
That kind of interaction is what NIPD is all about, she said.
“I see what it does for the community," said Seesequasis. "I see the educational value, but also the value of relationships to each other and how it helps to mirror those values and principles that are important to us as Indigenous people.”
The annual celebration that coincides with the summer solstice is almost 30 years old.
According to the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada website, the recommendation for the creation of a day to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous people in Canada came from two sources:
In 1995, the Sacred Assembly a national conference chaired by Elijah Harper and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People both recommended the establishment of a National First People’s Day.
In 1996, then, Gov. Gen. Romeo LeBlanc proclaimed June 21st as National Aboriginal Day, which is now known as National Indigenous People's Day.
To date, National Indigenous People’s Day is not a provincial or federal statutory holiday.