The sound of drums and singing filled the Chief Sepass theatre in Fort Langley Saturday night during the official closing of the Indigenous Circle of Health initiative, a pilot program intended to bring First Nations culture and athleticism to the general community.
There’s never been anything like this,” said Karen Moraes, the Indigenous Recreation Leader with the Township of Langley’s Arts, Culture and Community Initiatives Division.
The Township and the Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society received a Fraser Health Active Communities Grant to create greater access to social, healthy, physical activities for the aboriginal community.
Staff from the LFVAS and the Township’s Langley Centennial Museum met with local Indigenous advocacy groups and stakeholders to gather ideas for collaboration, program development, events, and cultural sensitivity training as part of the initiative.
Among the ideas, an elder from the Waceya Métis Society suggested a reoccurring program be held to celebrate family, friends, community ties, and culture.
The Sunday Social was held at the Aldergrove Kinsmen Community Centre, launching with a musical afternoon hosted by the Waceya Metis Society, with square dancing, and light refreshments.
Other Circle of Health events and programs included a walk in Campbell Valley Park, cooking and arts classes, a wrestling camp at the George Preston rec centre, a “Run Jump Throw Wheel” event at Aldergrove Kinsmen Recreation Centre, an all-level Lacrosse Camp at the RC Garnett Park-Sports Box and at the W.C.Blair Recreation Centre.
“It’s a way of sharing,” Moraes said.
“I think its important for us (First Nations people) in order to move forward and build a better connection with the community … a lot of indigenous people almost feel that there is an invisible barrier when it comes to the rest of the community. I feel that this is going to help start breaking that down.”
Kwantlen First Nation chief Marilyn Gabriel took part in the closing ceremonies along with Langley Township mayor Jack Froese and deputy Langley City mayor Rudy Storteboom.
Gabriel expressed approval of the program.
“We say, teach everybody,” Gabriel said.
“Share our gifts with everybody and the world will be a better place.”
Gabriel, Froese and Storteboom later joined the Northwest Coast Stars of the North drum group onstage for an audience participation performance.
Group founder LaDonna Hindmarch said the group has been performing together since 2005.
“We write our own music based on stories told us by our elders.”
Other performers included powwow dancer Shyama-Priya and her daughter, and the Gary Abott hoop dancers.
Still to come, as part of the Indigenous Circle of Health Social Sunday Program, is the “Campbell Valley BBQ in the Park” on Sunday, July 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the South Entrance, Old Orchard Picnic Shelter & Lawn.