Local event for National Indigenous Peoples Day shares teachings, live music with attendees

July 7, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

A celebration marking National Indigenous Peoples Day was held by the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle (DCCRC) at the Alder Recreation Centre Playing Fields on June 25.

Renee Meshake, Mama D, Larry Kurtz, and the Eagleheart Drummers and Singers, who had two jingle dress dancers interacting with the audience, took to the stage, with live music and traditional stories.

Storytelling and a talking stick craft was led by the Orangeville Public Library, while Community Elder Karen Vandenberg provided teachings and tours at the Mino Kamik Medicine Wheel Garden.

The only Ojibwe pony in Ontario made an appearance at the event and a bouncy castle was set up for children to play in.

DCCRC board chair, Debbie Egerton said the goal with National Indigenous Peoples Day or any of the organization’s events is to create a safe space to learn about or celebrate Indigenous traditions and history. She says the day was a great success.

“It’s always about educating the general public about the indigenous culture,” she said. “And it’s not for me to do. I bring the people together… to be able to do what they what they are so good at, what the indigenous community is so good at, and that’s sharing, and helping people understand.”

Creating an accepting and safe space where the passing of knowledge can take place is an important aspect, noted Tiffany Smith, DCCRC board member.

“I think what the important message is with an event like this – and it goes right along with what we’ve celebrated in town the week before, Celebrate Your Awesome – I think it allows acceptance,” said Smith.

She told the Citizen, she worries about acceptance among the younger generations and helping them to understand Indigenous culture, so events like National Indigenous Peoples Day are important for fostering that understanding and acceptance.

Smith also said she enjoyed how the event was set up this year with each activity leading into the next.

“Everything seemed to flow,” she noted. “We had the bouncing castle, then the stage, then the storytelling at the library, on to the Ojibwe pony, and then into the garden with Karen [Vandenberg] to get the teachings. Everything was going on at once and it was so cool.”

Egerton said she was happy to see some Indigenous women at the event and attendees wearing orange shirts, which are a symbol of support for survivors of residential school.

The thousands of unmarked graves found outside of former residential school sites in Canada over the last year was part of the reason why an inflatable jumping castle was set up at the local event.

“We had the bouncy castle because the elders wanted the youth to get to play, because of the kids that couldn’t,” said Egerton. “It was a little bit of reminder.”

The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates at least 4,100 students had died or gone missing from Canadian residential schools, while some experts who headed the commission say the number is well above 10,000.

Looking ahead to next year’s event, Egerton said they’re hoping to bring Indigenous vendors back for a market, like in 2019, and extend its length to six or seven hours. This year it ran for three.

Going forward, she said people can watch out for the DCCRC’s upcoming events. The next one is a Memorial Walk for Residential Schools on Oct. 1 at 12 p.m. starting at the main doors of the Alder Recreation Centre. After that, on Oct. 8 at 2 p.m., is a walk for the Indigenous Day of Action, starting at the County of Dufferin Court House on Elizabeth St.

Details on all upcoming events at the DCCRC can be found at

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