First Nations drumming, dancing and colourful attire filled Leon Avenue on Tuesday during the 22nd annual National Aboriginal Day in Kelowna.
“We are really excited about this day, not only for our urban aboriginal people, but for everybody,” said Edna Terbasket, executive director at the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society. “If you look around, you’ll see many shades of colours, and that’s so cool. They want to come and help us celebrate this beautiful day.”
The day started out with a ceremonial canoe trip from the Westbank First Nation to City Park with First Nations members and children from across the Central Okanagan.
The kids then went to the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, where activity stations were set up outside, including bracelet making and face painting.
Leon Avenue was closed in front of the Friendship Society, from Pandosy Street to Ellis Street, all day for the second year in a row, and the event continues to grow, said Terbasket.
“Our little block is almost packed, and that’s awesome.”
A powwow of First Nations dancers and drummers took place in the afternoon, followed by an evening feast.
The main purpose of the National Aboriginal Day festivities, which took place all across Canada, is to celebrate aboriginal culture and bring the whole community together, said Terbasket.
“It’s a time for us to get together and have a celebration and really focus on family time,” she said. “We try to have something for all ages and have a safe family gathering. It’s just a beautiful event and a beautiful time to be together.”
Local politicians also attended the event, including Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick.
“The fact that they took time out of their days to be here speaks volumes,” said Terbasket.