‘Exciting things’ ahead for Dufferin indigenous group

February 22, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

The Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle (DCCRC) is preparing to celebrate its fifth anniversary in style later this year.

The local indigenous group has several “exciting things” in the pipeline for 2019 according to Debbie Sipkema, who founded the organization alongside her husband Gil a little under five years ago. 

“This is a huge year for us. To say that we’ll be celebrating our fifth anniversary, that means everything,” Debbie told the Citizen. “It’s been an interesting road over these past five years, and not always an easy one. But we’re so happy to be here, to be offering our services not only to indigenous people, but to the broader community too.”

She added, “The people of Orangeville and Dufferin County have been really good to us. We’re excited for what we’re sure will be a memorable year for DCCRC.”

Speaking to what she is sure will be the “absolute number one highlight” of 2019, Ms. Sipkema shared some details about this year’s Aboriginal Day festivities. Traditionally, DCCRC has hosted a day-long celebration in the community, but things will be a little bit different in what is a banner year for the organization.

“We’re going to be celebrating Aboriginal Day over two days this year,” Gil Sipkema confirmed. “It’ll take place on June 21 and 22 at Alexandra Park in Orangeville, and boy do we have a lot of things lined up.”

While a good portion of the event is still in the process of being planned, Mr. Sipkema revealed several acts have been confirmed for the two-day affair. On the musical side, Larry Kurtz & The Lawbreakers, Jeff Campbell, Falcon Jane, Jason Wilson and the Eagleheart Drummers/Singers, featuring Jimmy Dick, are scheduled to perform.

There are several dance acts pencilled in for the event, with the likes of Julia Kozack, Reana Wareing, Emily Rose Gaudet-Dick and Matthew Rutledge to appear. Many of the dancers scheduled to attend will also host workshops of sorts, where they will explain the origin and meaning of their regalia. Renowned aboriginal drum maker Leon Fleury will also be making an appearance. 

“That’s a really important part of the event,” Gil said. “Obviously, we want to make sure the event is fun and people have a good time, but the educational component is crucial.”

To that point, Gil has confirmed he will have at least one traditional teepee at the event, which he will fill with various aboriginal artifacts that will provide a “knowledge and history” of local indigenous culture. 

The event has been partly funded by the Town of Orangeville, with the municipality pledging $5,000 to the DCCRC’s cause. Debbie noted the group has also applied for a $40,000 grant through Celebrate Canada, a federal program designed to provide funding for events on Aboriginal Day, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, Canadian Multiculturalism Day and Canada Day. Should that money come through, the Sipkemas are planning a few more events for 2019.

“We’re going to try and put an event together at Theatre Orangeville, a totally indigenous powered showcase,” Debbie said. “While it’s important to recognize the history and culture of aboriginal people in Dufferin County, we want to expose the community to the other side of the indigenous community.”

On top of that, DCCRC wants to host a pow wow in September. Such an event, Gil says, would likely take part over a three-day period and would allow the organization to attract “the biggest aboriginal talent” to the community. 

“It’s an exciting year for sure. We want to make sure we celebrate five years in style,” Debbie concluded.

For more information on the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle and any upcoming events, visit

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.