There is a common misconception that Richmond doesn’t have much of an aboriginal population.
But on Saturday, June 21, the aboriginal community in Richmond celebrates their presence and culture on National Aboriginal Day with presentations and entertainment from 1-4pm at 7700 Minoru Gate.
“There is a pretty vibrant aboriginal community in Richmond,” said Jelica Shaw, the Aboriginal Youth Centre program coordinator.
“This year in the school district, there are 230 self-identified Aboriginal students.”
The day’s festivities will open with a traditional welcome from elder James White, followed by words from Teresa Watt, Richmond Centre MLA, and Linda McPhail, of Richmond City Council.
Richmond’s aboriginal youth will then take the stage to showcase their art.
The OSKAYAK drum group, Urban Heiltsuk dance group, and Richmond Powwow dance group will also make an appearance to share their songs and dance, as well as media presentations made by aboriginal youth about Pathways Aboriginal Centre, the only space that offers exclusive programs to aboriginal youth.
There will also be a craft table where everyone is welcome to decorate and learn about the ceremonial talking stick.
“The kids get excited every year. ‘What are we going to do for National Aboriginal Day?’ they ask me, because it’s one of their only opportunities to show the greater community that their culture is alive in Richmond,” said Shaw.
Shaw added that, for herself, and even the kids, although they tell people they’re aboriginal, the response they often get is, “I didn’t know there are aboriginals in Richmond.”
“This is our opportunity to illustrate that ‘yeah, we are here,’” said Shaw.