DCCRC celebrates fifth annual National Indigenous Day

June 28, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Julia Lloyd

Hundreds of Dufferin County residents came together this past weekend to celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day at Alexandra Park in Orangeville.

The event took place from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.  

The Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle (DCCRC) put on this event for the first time five years ago, as a way to bring both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together. 

Debbie Sipkema and Gil Sipkema are the co-founders of this non-profit organization. 

“This is a chance for people to become educated,” said Ms. Sipkema. 

In 1996 the Canadian government announced June 21 as the date of an annual celebration of Indigenous people. 

National Indigenous Day is DCCRC’s biggest event of the year. After a hugely successful fifth anniversary celebration, the Sipkemas confirmed they have already begun planning for next year. 

Traditional indigenous drummers and dancers performed on both Friday and Saturday as well as a variety of different Indigenous and local artisans and crafters. 

One of the traditional dancers, Reanna Wareing, is a resident of Orangeville and has family ties with the Blackfoot people in Alberta. Ms. Wareing has been performing at this event for the last four years. 

“For me, dancing gives me a sense of freedom and it allows me to go into a moment when it it’s just dancing, and me” said Ms. Wareing. 

One of the tents set up at the park featured Indigenous artisans Ashley Masters and Christine Joseph-Davis, of Dreamweaver Crafts in Hamilton. 

Ms. Masters is from the Moravian Indian Reserve 47, located in Chatham-Kent, Ont. and only six months ago started to bead and make earrings. Her earrings are colourful and every set of earrings has different patterns. It looked like she had been beading all her life. 

Beading teaches patience, which is one of the things that drew Ms. Masters into the art of beading. Whatever you are feeling at the time gets worked into your beading, she said. A lot of the times when she is stressed or upset, her beads can create a knot and as soon as that happens she walks away in order to get rid of that bad energy. 

“That is why a lot of people ask before buying, ‘is this good medicine?’” said Ms. Joseph-Davis. 

Greg Nadjiwon, Chief of the Chippewas of Nawash and Shirly John, an elder who comes from Saugeen First Nation, were both in attendance at this year’s ceremonies, as well as representatives from Georgina Island, Vendor Bay, Toronto and even Ottawa, said Debbie. 

Hundreds of years ago in Dufferin there were the Huron-Wendat people, as well as the Paciuns, who were the tobacco people. The Ojibway people, the Anishinaabes, and almost all other first nations lived here at one point.

“This is all in Dufferin County and all these people belonged here,” Debbie added. 

Indigenous Peoples occupied North America thousands of years before European colonizers arrived and radically changed the lives of the indigenous peoples. 

National Indigenous Peoples Day is not considered a holiday but the government has put forward a bill that recently passed in the Senate that will make September 30 an official holiday to remember the victims of residential schools.

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