National Aboriginal Day events wrapped up in Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver on June 21 amid feasting and song. Events over four days honoured First Nations, Métis, and Inuit traditions and included a daily sunrise ceremony, traditional storytelling, activities for children, a neighbourhood smudge and a daily feast.
Watch the National Aboriginal Day video.
CUPE BC Alternate Diversity Vice President (Aboriginal), Debra Merrier, brought greetings and stressed the importance of her union’s involvement in her community. She spoke about the historic agreement that brought members of the Cowichan Tribe Band into the school district and into CUPE. The agreement recognizes ancestral rights such as extended bereavement leave or cultural leave for initiation into Long House.
Performers on the final day included M’Girl, Arlette Alcock, the Indian Time Drum Group, Harmony of Nations and the Hobbema School of Rock. Alcock, a CUPE 15 member, thanked her union for its participation and included a union song in her repertoire. Her eight-year-old granddaughter joined her to jig along with two of the tunes.
The event was held in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park where CUPE 15 member Sandy MacKeigan is the community programmer with the Carnegie Community Centre. MacKeigan notes that CUPE’s support was crucial to this year’s program.
“We served bison stew to over a thousand people today,” said MacKeigan. “We wouldn’t have been able to do that without the financial support from CUPE BC and the CUPE volunteers that helped with the event.”
Liza Price, member of CUPE 1851 and CARD committee member of the Aboriginal Working Group said, “Today we were able to show what CUPE’s all about — standing behind our communities.”