Base celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day

Photo by LS Alex Ilareguy

Photo by LS Alex Ilareguy

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A standing room only crowd gathered at the Songhees Wellness Centre in Esquimalt last Thursday to celebrate the Maritime Forces Pacific National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Approximately 400 military and civilian personnel from CFB Esquimalt joined Songhees and Esquimalt Nations community members for the celebratory event, which is designed to educate people about First Nations, Inuit and Metis culture, and strengthen ties between the military and local communities.

“It is on these lands of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations that we feel so privileged to work and to live and to play,” said Capt(N) Jason Boyd, Base Commander as he addressed the crowd. “It’s great to be in this beautiful facility to mark this important day with you.”

The event was organized by the Defence Aboriginal Awareness Group (DAAG), and is part of the Canada-wide National Indigenous Peoples Day held June 21.

Chief Edward Thomas from the Esquimalt Nation and elder Joan Morris from the Songhees Nation welcomed the gathering to the Songhees territory. Morris then performed a traditional blessing.

“Let this be a day of love, unity, faith, cooperation and understanding,” said Morris. “Let us come together for equality, love one another and put a stop to racism.”

Morris’ inspirational comments drew a large round of applause and praise.

Following the opening ceremony, attendees were treated to traditional First Nations dance and drumming, and displays including cedar weaving, traditional and locally-harvested herbal teas, and free food and drink. A Canadian Armed Forces recruiting booth and Raven program information booth were also part of the event.

Capt(N) Boyd and the DAAG held discussions with representatives from the Songhees community earlier this year to move the annual event from its traditional location at Work Point’s Gun Room to the Songhees Wellness Centre located on Maplebank Road. The large turnout shows the move was a good one.   

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