The Green in London, Ont.’s Wortley Village neighbourhood was packed on Tuesday with those attending the 26th annual Indigenous Solidarity Day celebrations.
The celebrations mark National Indigenous Peoples Day, where Canadians recognize the contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Green was filled with the sound of drumming, singing and conversation, coupled with the scent of fried bread floating in the air.
Everyone CBC News spoke with agreed it was a relief to be reunited following two years of virtual activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staff from N’Amerind Friendship Centre greeted attendees. (Angela McInnes/CBC)
Mike Hopkins Sr, Indigenous healing and wellness co-ordinator for London’s N’Amerind Friendship Centre, said the day started with a sunrise ceremony. He and other co-ordinators met with attendees to explain the meaning of the ceremony, which is also done at the start and end of every week to acknowledge community with family, relatives and ancestors.
Atlohsa Family Healing Services braided hair in exchange for donations to the anti-human trafficking Okaadenige program. (Angela McInnes/CBC)
At another stall, staff from Atlohsa Family Healing Services braided hair in exchange for donations to the anti-human trafficking Okaadenige program.
“It’s just incredible to see people out,” said Atlohsa’s anti-human trafficking co-ordinator, Elyssa Rose.
“People are wearing orange shirts, they’re stopping at booths, there’s conversations. And regardless of the heat, you can see that people are enjoying themselves.”
Vendor Loni Doxtator. (Angela McInnes/CBC)
Loni Doxtator, of Oneida Nation of the Thames, was vending her custom-made stickers, tumblers, ribbon skirts and masks.
Kevin Burns works hard at preparing dough for fried bread. (Angela McInnes/CBC)
Kevin Burns of Oneida Nation of the Thames has been serving up fried bread, salt pork sandwiches and corn soup at events for more than 30 years. He said it was good to be back and seeing familiar faces.
Liam Sands is a fifth generation fancy bustle dancer and powwow singer. (Angela McInnes/CBC)
Liam Sands, who identifies as Plains Cree, Oneida and Ojibway, has been dancing since he was a boy. He is a fifth generation fancy bustle dancer and powwow singer.
“It’s a day in which us, as Indigenous people, can take pride in who we are and take pride in the things we do here,” said Sands.
“And it’s a day for all of us to come together and elevate one another and become one, and unite and rekindle that unity across Canada and across Turtle Island. It’s really a beautiful thing. That’s what it means to me, just that getting together and that elevation of each other.”