Fort McMurray, AB – The Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre (NAFC) is hosting a community celebration to honour the 26th anniversary of National Indigenous Peoples Day at Fort McMurray Heritage Village on June 21.

National Indigenous Peoples Day takes place on the summer solstice each year during National Indigenous Heritage Month, and it’s a special occasion to welcome everyone to learn more about the culture and heritage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. 

NAFC’s Executive Director Stacy Gillingham explains how the Centre is happy to be able to host an in-person celebration after the past event postponements due to the pandemic.

“We’ve been anticipating this event tremendously as we see the value in bringing our community together to share the heritage and culture of our Indigenous peoples,” she said. “We’ve selected Heritage Village as our event location because history matters. Together, we can honour and celebrate why this day and National Indigenous History Month is important to our region and nation.”

The event will start at 4 p.m. with a cultural ceremony, including a land acknowledgement by NAFC representative Georgina Sanderson and prayer by Fort McMurray Métis Leonard Hansen. The ceremony will conclude with an Elder Blessing by Denesuline Elder Charles Nokoho singing and Denesuline Drummer Allen Tssessaze.

The family-friendly celebration will continue with an art activity to invite guests to paint ‘what reconciliation means to them’ under a canopy of tents. Guests will also receive welcomes from mascots Rooty, the A&W Root Beer bear and Nitotem, the Wood Buffalo 2023 Arctic Winter Games (AWG) lynx. AWG representatives will have Indigenous games and trivia to play. 

Food and refreshments will be served until the event wrap-up at 6:30 p.m., thanks to the generosity of Culligan Water, Educo Holdings Ltd., Herc Equipment Rental, Joly’s Your Independent Grocer, McMurray Métis, Parents of Panthers and Western Restaurant Franchises Inc. (Fort McMurray A&W restaurants).