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Indigenous resilience celebrated
Aboriginal Day back with two concerts, a 200-person drum dance and fish fry

Robin Grant
Northern News Services
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

This year's Aboriginal Day will link Yellowknife's celebration with other cities across the nation.

NNSL photograph

Juno-award winning musician Leela Gilday performs at the Gho-Bah/Gombaa concert at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre Saturday night. The concert is a celebration of indigenous resilience through music and storytelling and will be performed again today after a 200-person drum dance in Somba K'e Civic Plaza. - Robin Grant/NNSL photo

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is streaming Aboriginal Day Life, a culmination of events from Yellowknife and seven other cities, including Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

From Yellowknife, the celebration will feature live music from Digawolf, singer-songwriter George Leach, hip-hop artist JB The First Lady, hip hop duo MOB Bounce, Winnipeg-based duo Nadia & Jason Burnstick, country musician Kristen McArthur, Crook the Kid and Casey Koyczan a.k.a. NAHGA at Somba K'e Civic Plaza.

A 200-person drum dance will also mark the day at 11 a.m.

North Slave Metis Alliance president Bill Enge, who helped organize the almost $1 million event, said it is a joint effort between the alliance, APTN and organizers behind Gho-Bah, a First Nations reconciliation celebration.

"We're very pleased to work to bring about an extravaganza event for Yellowknife," he said.

"It's Canada's 150th anniversary, and it requires an extra special effort."

On top of Aboriginal Day live, Leela Gilday is teaming up with a group of artists for a performance of Gho-Bah/Gombaa, a celebration of indigenous resilience through storytelling and song.

Those who missed the event that packed the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre Saturday night will have another chance to see Gilday, Paul Andrew, Andrea Bettger, Pat Braden, Stephen Kakfwi, Lawrence Nayally and Deneze Nakehk'o reflect on the perseverance of the territory's indigenous people over the destructive impacts of colonization and residential school.

Following the concert, a mural recognizing survivors of residential schools in the territory will be unveiled.

Over at the Weledeh site on the Yellowknife River, members of Yellowknives Dene First Nation are celebrating Aboriginal Day with a traditional fish fry, sewing and Dene games demonstrations. A duck plucking competition will follow as well as canoe races and a feeding of the fire ceremony.

Ndilo Chief Ernest Betsina said showcasing tradition is a way to keep it alive.

"As Yellowknives Dene, we've been here longer than 150 years and we're certainly going to be here in the future," he said.

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