A couple of thousand residents came together and celebrated our region’s Indigenous heritage at Kenora Chiefs Advisory’s second-annual National Indigenous Peoples Day events in Kenora.

Traditional drums and a sunrise ceremony kicked off the day’s events along with introductions from community leaders and live music, as students from across the city began arriving in waves of school buses.

“The day went so well. We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout,” said Communication Lead with KCA, Abbie Siroishka.

Youth and families were able to enjoy a variety of activities throughout the day, including art stations, an obstacle course and beach volleyball, stable visits with horses, TeePee teachings, food trucks, Pride crafts, dancing demonstrations, a bannock-making competition, door prizes and much more.

“It’s just so amazing that so many people are taking the time to get educated and see all of the amazing talents we have within Treaty #3,” adds Siroishka. “It was a fun-packed day. Big thank you to everyone who made this possible!”

Community sponsors and food trucks also came down to join the day, along with a free barbecue provided by emergency responders with the Treaty Three Police Service and Kenora OPP.

All that and more took place on KCA’s 320-acre Youth and Family Wellness Camp on Strecker Road, which provides at-risk youth with the opportunity to live on the property, connect with their culture and learn from community elders – a critical service in the north.

“This camp is where youth meet each other, have fun in a safe environment and build relationships that will last a lifetime. And those relationships will help each other get through good and bad times,” said Senior Lead with KCA, Joe Barnes.

Much of the set-up of the property was undertaken by staff and volunteers with KCA in preparation for the day's events. Staff were also handing out water as temperatures hit a high of 29 degrees, as well as directing traffic.

National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrates the culture and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Indigenous peoples of Canada, and encourages Canadians to take a step forward on the path toward reconciliation.

It takes place every June 21 after 14 years of lobbying by the National Indian Brotherhood, now known as the Assembly of First Nations.

The day was initially named National Aboriginal Day, which was later renamed in 2017 after another 12 years of lobbying from the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

June is also recognized as National Indigenous History Month across Canada.