On June 21, Kingston, along with the rest of Canada, will be celebrating National Aboriginal Day (NAD). Canada’s first National Aboriginal Day took place in 1996, and over the last 19 years, more and more cities have been commemorating the event. In 2011, the City of Kingston officially recognized June as National Aboriginal Month, and the past several years have seen celebrations that include traditional drumming, dancing, Indigenous foods, and music. Jolie Brant, one of the members of the organizing committee, had this to say about the event: “NAD welcomes people from all walks of life to come celebrate Indigenous peoples across Canada. June 21st is an opportunity for First Nation, Metis and Inuit peoples the opportunity to showcase their cultures and achievements throughout Canada.”
Here are some of the events and people that you shouldn’t miss:
Thursday, June 18, 263 Weller Ave, 6 pm Kingston WritersFest: Kingston Community Health Centre, and the National Aboriginal Day Committee present a reading by Lee Maracle, a member of the Sto:Lo nation. Maracle has released several novels, a book of poetry, and creative non-fiction. On the 18th, she will perform a reading from her latest novel, Celia’s Song. In addition to the reading, there will be a book signing and traditional drumming. Admission by donation.
Thursday, June 18, 130 Johnson St, 9:15-4 pm Cheryle Jacobs: from the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, leads a cultural sensitivity training workshop at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. Topics include intergenerational impacts of residential schools, colonization, and other traumas. Jacobs offers traditional teachings and knowledge and breaks downs misconceptions about Indigenous folks. The workshop is especially geared towards service providers and community organizations that work with Indigenous people. Registration required; admission $50 or $25 for students and elders.
Sunday, June 21, Market Square, Caleb Gazley: an Indigenous comedian and performer, brings his Big Stunt Show to Kingston for National Aboriginal Day. Gazley, who also studies at York University, combines balloon-making, juggling, flame-swallowing, and other antics in his lively one-man show. He’s been honing his skills with balloons since he was just 12 years old, and his act is sure to be especially popular with kids. Free event.
Sunday June 21, Market Square: There are more than 1,200 missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada. Betty Carr-Braint, member of the Mohawk nation and Queen’s elder-in-residence, will speak on behalf of the Sisters in Spirit committee, an organization dedicated to bringing awareness to the #MMIW cause. Carr-Braint holds a certificate in traditional healing and is also a certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She will speak to the issue of violence against Indigenous women and commemorate the many women already lost. Free event.
Here’s who else you’ll catch at the celebration:
- Soaring Eagle Men’s Big Drum group
- Theiland Kicksnoway, a Hoop Dancer and Youth advocate
- Murray White and Len LeBlanc, Métis fiddlers
- Arihonni Brant, water drummer
And more, along with children’s activities, food, and music. The NAD Committee asks that you please bring a non-perishable food item for donation. The celebration takes place rain or shine, from 11 am to 2:30 p.m.
Photo credit to Kaytee Dalton.