Wednesday was a day to celebrate Indigenous culture, put politics aside and come together for the Splatsin community.
The North Okanagan First Nation celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day with a powwow, a Lions Club breakfast, a five kilometre walk/run challenge, children’s activities and more.
Dozens of people gathered at the Splatsin ball park to take in the festivities, which included drumming, dancing and plenty of prize giveaways.
“We’ve been around for over 10,000 years, and to have a day recognizing us as Indigenous people is amazing. We’ve been through a lot of turmoil throughout the years, and this is a day of celebration,” said Splatsin councillor Theresa William, who attended the event.
William said now is a good time to have an event that brings the Splatsin community together, in light of recent political strife that has divided the band on the question of its leadership, which culminated today in the dismissal of three petitions against Doug Thomas’ status as Splatsin chief.
“Our people have been through a lot of turmoil as you can see in the media, and this is actually bringing our people together in a good way,” William said.
Another Splatsin councillor, Sabrina Vergata, said celebrations on Indigenous Peoples Day are an important way to preserve Indigenous culture in a country that must work to reverse historical attempts to erase that culture.
“It helps other Indigenous people also connect to their roots, especially with a lot of our traditions and our culture being wiped away with residential schools and ‘60s scoops and such, so it’s a day that signifies our resilience,” Vergata said.
Vergata personally enjoyed the drumming and the dancing at the event, as well as seeing the community get together and socialize.
“I think it’s amazing. It really helps tie everyone together and even if there is a little bit of hardship at the moment it’s nice to see everyone smiling and putting everything aside.”
At the event, there were several booths set up. Some were vendors selling goods, and others were organizations offering guests a view of what Splatsin culture, and Indigenous cultures in general, are all about.
For generations, many Indigenous groups have celebrated their culture and heritage on June 21 because of the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.