Aboriginal awareness week coming to Red Deer

A number of events are coming to Red Deer to celebrate Aboriginal Awareness Day and the public is welcome to take part in any one of them.

June 21 is Aboriginal Awareness Day nationally and Raye St. Denys, executive director with Shining Mountains Living Community Services, said it is special to the aboriginal community.

“The 21st day of June is nationally recognized and is significant to our people,” said St. Denys.

Red Deer will see celebrations in City Hall Park on the 21st including a tipi raising at dawn, prayers and reading of a proclamation by Mayor Morris Flewwelling at 10 a.m., an honour song, displays and booths, games, music and cake right through until 3 p.m.

St. Denys said the tipi raising has a special connection to the community. In order to prevent damage to the lawn where the tipi will be, special boots have been created and donated by Red Deer College to allow the tipi to stand without leaving holes.

“Aboriginal awareness is important because we are the first people. We have contributed to the development of Canada and this is just a way to recognize that.”

The events are all family friendly and St. Denys said there will even be gifts and crafts for kids including Inukshuks that kids can make.

Other events include an open house on June 18th at the Red Deer Native Friendship Centre and the Walk for Friendship and youth program fundraiser.

June 24th will also see celebrations down at Rotary Park from noon until 4 p.m. These celebrations will incorporate First Nations, Métis, and Inuit stories, songs, games, dances and spirit.

There will be a grand entry at noon followed by music, dancing and a picnic to which people are welcome to bring their own food as well.

“We just want to open people’s eyes as to what is here in their community and the cultural background of many of our residents.”

On June 27th there will be an open house at Red Deer Aboriginal Employment located at #202, 4909-48th St.

There will also be an open house at Shining Mountains Living Community Services at 11 a.m. and there will be a barbeque and music for guests. Shining Mountains is located at 4925 46th St.

“This is an excellent opportunity to learn and experience a portion of a culture or cultures that maybe you didn’t know about and ask questions.”

St. Denys said there will also be aboriginal art for sale at City Hall Park on June 21st as well.

For more information on the events and celebrations, call Shining Mountains Living Community Services at 403-346-9794.