Red Deerians celebrated Indigenous culture hand-in-hand with a round dance.
Dozens came out to a National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at City Hall Park Thursday afternoon.
Tanya Schur, Urban Aboriginal Voices Society community facilitator, said round dancing, where people join hands, form a circle and dance, is the highlight of every event where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people come together.
“We had a wonderful time celebrating, not only the past, but the optimism we share about a really welcoming, inclusive and vibrant future together as Canadians,” said Schur.
Schur said the city’s support means a lot.
“We gather today to share ceremony and to share our hopes, our dreams, our prayers as an act of reconciliation,” she said.
Mayor Tara Veer said she was proud the City of Red Deer participated in the nationally recognized day.
“We know relationship is very important to Indigenous persons and relationship is very important to city council,” she said.
There were multiple events around Red Deer to mark National Indigenous Day; a Waskasoo Seepee traditional powwow, a short film screening and tour at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, as well as the celebration at City Hall Park.
To celebrate National Indigenous Day “with our Indigenous community and the many Red Deerians who participated, I think certainly kicks off all the events in a commemorative way,” Veer said.
Lynn Jonasson, Treaty 5 area community elder, said events like this bring Indigenous people and the city closer.
“It’s (about) having a pride in our heritage, our languages and we share it with our community here.
“It’s a relationship that’s been here a long time,” Jonasson said. “The city has really come a long ways working with Aboriginal people.”
Jonasson, who also works with the Safe Harbour Society, said he encourages the community to meet with Aboriginal people and go to Aboriginal events.
There will be more National Aboriginal Days festivities through the rest of the week, including a truth and reconciliation community gathering at the Sheraton Hotel at 12:30 p.m. Friday and a St. Jean Baptiste Day Metis Picnic at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery at 10 a.m. Sunday.