By Greg Price
As the Eagle Spirit Nest Community Association continues to make inroads in the Taber-area community, it will be helping spearhead local National Indigenous Peoples Day this Friday at Confederation Park.
Celebrations begin at 3 p.m. where the community is being invited to help with a tipi raising and traditional hand games will be played for young and old alike.
“I think it would be great to encourage people to come out and learn from the elder, as they will teach as they put up the tipi. The elder is a highly respected member that shares their knowledge through teachings, ceremonies, stories and songs. All people are welcome to join the elders to help set up the tipi at Confederation Park. We will need many hands to put up our tipi for our celebration,” said Lisa Sowinski, president of Eagle Spirit Nest Community Association.
Along with traditional games, traditional food will be available to eat including Indian tacos, pigs in a blanket, fry bread and berry soup and several dignitaries will be on hand for opening remarks from 5-6 p.m.
“People can expect some amazing traditional food that we will accept silver donations for. We would also love it if people can come with a non-perishable item for the food bank, as they are an amazing community organization that supports so many families,” said Sowinski.
Speakers will include Lisa Sowinski, Taber Mayor Andrew Prokop and M.D. of Taber Reeve Merrill Harris. There is also special guest speaker Roy Pogorzelski. Pogorzelski is a Metis from northern Saskatchewan.
“I come from a very traditional family in that area. A lot of my ancestors from up north were involved in protecting Metis cultural and land rights,” said Pogorzelski. “Growing up, I was raised around the culture and the spirituality of our elders.”
Pogorzelski will be taking those ancient ways and applying it to modern-day North America, where Indigenous people can find their mark as a diverse asset in today’s workplace. With the Call to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission started in 2015 with 94 action points, there has been an emphasis on how to build better relationships.
“A bit of my presentation on National Indigenous Peoples Day is going to be centred around how municipalities can work with the TRC Call to Action and implement its points,” said Pogorzelski. “It’s also how the Call to Action is also centred around bringing in economic development and opportunities for Indigenous people. It’s looking at the business side of things as well. I sit on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors in Lethbridge. There is that discussion going around on how do we emphasize the importance of bringing in indigenous business and hiring and training professionals.”
At 6 p.m. on Friday, there will be the grand entry with a drum group, dancing and singing where spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.
“National Indigenous Peoples Day is a great way for all the community to come together to celebrate our cultures and be entertained by some amazing dancers, drummers and other activities. This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nation, Metis and Inuit peoples,” said Sowinski. “Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs.”
All told, there will be the tipi raising, pow-wow dancers, hoop dancers, Metis jig, a drum group, craft tables, face painting and the hand games for people to enjoy. The public is encouraged to join in with the dancers and drum group.
“The TRC Call to Action is really about training service providers. Whether we are municipalities, whether we are business owners, or just regular community members, there is opportunity for education. National Indigenous Peoples Day becomes an essential point for people to start learning about Indigenous culture. Not just seeing the culture, but also how we can start building better relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous people in our community.”
Eagle Spirit Nest Community Association is a newly formed society to promote culture and reconciliation, and the group is encouraging people to help brand its organization through a logo contest that is open to the public, with hopes an artist can capture the vision, heart and mission statement of Eagle Spirit. The association will have a booth set up during the day that has a full set of rules for the contest that will close on Oct. 30 and is open to all ages.
The winner will receive a $100 cash prize, plus a hooded sweatshirt with the logo, as well as social media recognition.
A committee selected by the board of Eagles Nest Community Association will act as judges for this competition. Entries will be judged on their visual appeal, adherence to the Eagles Spirit Nest Association mission statement, quality of design and ease of reproduction. In co-operation with the Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21, the summer solstice, as National Aboriginal Day, now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day.