National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations are taking place across Canada on June 21, and festivities at Penticton’s Gyro Park are officially underway.
A full day of events that celebrate the culture, history and legacy of Indigenous people will run until 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel says the day is all about bringing people together.
“I think we all need to work together and listen to one another,” Gabriel said at the event’s opening ceremony shortly after 9 a.m. “Today, someone is going to smile at you and stand beside you…we’re all in this together so our future will be a better place for all of us to live.”
Celebrations in Penticton on Wednesday include pow-wow drumming and dancing at 12:30 p.m., as well as the honoring of graduating students and a performance from Metis Fiddlers to wrap up the day from 3 to 4 p.m.
National Indigenous Peoples Day has been recognized each year in Canada since 1996. Today is a statutory holiday in both the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
According to the Government of Canada, the day is celebrated on June 21, because of the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.
In Penticton, the day’s opening ceremony also included words from Penticton Mayor Julius Bloomfield and MLA Dan Ashton.
“We hope that it’s a great day and we hope that it’s another step that we can have in building a meaningful and better relationship,” Bloomfield said.
Kid-friendly activities and several different Indigenous-led vendors can currently be found at Gyro Park.
The public is invited to take in all the festivities.
Gabriel, meanwhile, was also joined on stage by PIB Junior Chief, Creedence Lezard.
“I would like to thank you all for coming,” Lezard said to a crowd at Gyro Park. “Enjoy the day and have fun with each other.”