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A day to unite everybody
Yellowknifers come together to celebrate National Aboriginal Day

Miranda Scotland
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 22, 2012

Yellowknives Dene First Nation put aside the recent political infighting Thursday to come together and celebrate Aboriginal Day.

NNSL photo/graphic

Harry Black, 11, Sophia Black, 7, and Mary Black help set up for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation's Aboriginal Day celebration. - Sara Wilson/ NNSL photo

"You may be enemies, you might be in jail, you might be negative but when it's Aboriginal Day everybody is united," said Muriel Betsina. "Regardless, we are a huge family and we respect one another."

Families and friends greeted each other with warm smiles at the Weledeh cultural site off Ingraham Trail. About 50 people showed up at the beginning of the event, while more trickled in later.

Visitors were able to enjoy live music, storytelling, a fish demonstration and various areas that were set up for activities such as drum making and traditional sewing.

But some were more interested in enjoying the Yellowknives' traditional eats. Ernest Sangris sat eying the food area as stations were set up to serve bannock, fish and caribou meat.

"I just came here for the fish," he said, adding his favourite is whitefish fried on the barbeque.

Meanwhile, Shannon Betsina, 22, said she was excited to spend the day learning more about her culture and meeting new people.

"It helps people feel good," she said about the day. "It's fun."

National Aboriginal Day began in 1996 to celebrate the traditions and achievements of the First Nations, Inuit and Metis. The government of Canada chose June 21 to be National Aboriginal Day because it is also the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. For years, many aboriginal people have celebrated their culture at about this time.

"We are a very proud nation but nobody seemed to care or recognize," said the elder Betsina. "Finally, finally we have the government recognize us."

Celebrations for Aboriginal Day were also held at Somba K'e Park. Artisans, a fish fry and live performers entertained about 50 visitors early in the afternoon.

Betsina said she was pleased that residents came together for the various festivities.

"The more we share, the more we learn, the more we find peace in our hearts," she said.

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