Indigenous dancing on cross country skis.
The well-known father and son First Nations dance team of Levi and Leroi Bent, who have become avid nordic skiers through the program, are set to perform on skis this year.
“They really love skiing and go up every weekend and they are going to do a similar thing to last year when they had full regalia but they’re going to have skis on this year and just regalia on top and we’re pretty excited about that,” said Perianne Jones, one of Spirit North’s instructors. “It will be much like last year, we will have some food and elders.
“I think we’ll have about 220 kids up there for the festival this year, I mean we thought were doing well last year with 150 kids so we’ll see if we can handle this many.”
This was the sophomore season for Spirit North at Nickel Plate after the Alberta-based, non-profit organization came into B.C. as part of a pilot project.
In addition to West Bench Elementary and the Penticton Indian Band’s (PIB) Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School, SenPokChin School of Oliver and the PIB alternative school also participated this year.
The program was also expanded to West Kelowna this season as well and representatives from that program and elders may also be attending the festival.
“It went really well this year, it was all we could do to keep up which is really great,” said Jones. “We definitely had a lot more interest in skiing.
“Coming back this year to Nickel Plate it was like we never left, the kids just picked up where they left off. We were able to get more skiing in and less learning to ski, so that fun.”
In addition to the twice weekly daily programs there was also an after school component where kids skied with headlamps and enjoyed some pizza before heading down the mountain.
Through Spirit North kids and other family members can take lessons, get skis and use the facilities at no charge.
The program actually begins in the fall when instructors go to the different schools and start working with kids on fitness which includes things like cross country running.
The festival takes place from 10:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.