On June 21st the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Society will be hosting National Aboriginal Day at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. The festivities are open to the public and will include games, music, food, kids activities and cultural displays.

Krista Reid, the cultural programing coordinator for the society, says they are excited about this year’s event, which she says will include, “hip-hop, storytelling, crafts and music by local artists.”  

This year also features a return of the jigging competition, which she says was popular last year. Jigging is a popular Northern Gwitchin event and is often set to fiddle music. Everyone is invited to participate; there will be separate age categories and prizes.

The 14 Nations Hand Games Society will be giving demonstrations, as will the Aboriginal Sports Circle. Traditional Dene games will also be played, including the seal kick, a game involving kicking a seal skin ball which is raised higher and higher.

NorthwesTel is sponsoring a free public feast with stew and bannock from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and, as per tradition, elders will be served first, Reid says.

Because the event falls on a Tuesday this year, there will be more evening events than on previous years.

There will also be dancing and regalia to “bring to life” special objects to be used in ceremonies, she says, which the public is welcome to observe.

“National Aboriginal Day is an opportunity to celebrate our heritage and spirit. It showcases the diversity of our first nations and highlights our skills. It’s an opportunity for people to see us, our arts, crafts and traditions, the things our communities are really about,” says Reid, whose own matrilineal lines are of the Haudenosaunee and Saugeen Nations of Ontario, and her husband is a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation.

The Aboriginal Day celebration takes place on June 21st, the summer solstice, a day which First Nations respect, Reid says.

“What better day to celebrate First Nations” she says, “than a day we already observe?”

Opening ceremonies kick off at 12 p.m. The exact line up of events has not yet been set.