Town prepares for National Indigenous Peoples Day

The Town of Strathmore is gearing up to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, with an event scheduled to take place in Kinsmen Park on June 21.

“We are pretty excited for it, we have a lot of dancers, some elders, (and) some vendors coming out as well,” said Astokomii Smith, Indigenous Liaison for the Town of Strathmore. “We have a little bit of a schedule from 2-4 p.m., we are going to having the opening ceremonies with the land acknowledgement and opening prayer, and a blessing provided by an elder.”

Following the opening of the event, the town will raise the Treaty 7 flag, which has previously never been done at the Strathmore town hall.

Throughout the day, attendees will be able to view, experience and enjoy drummers, dancers, Metis jiggers, and a conclusion of traditional hand games.

“The first time that we really celebrated it was in 2019, so that was the year that I started working for the town and it was pretty successful,” said Smith. “We had some tipi raising, some dancing, I know (Siksika) chief and council and both (town and county) councils were there, and then of course, after that there was COVID-19, so we had to stop for a little bit.”

In 2021, she added, the town held a naming ceremony for the Anti Racism Program, which served similarly to the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration. Last year, the town crowned the first Lead By Example princess with the debut of the Lead By Example powwow.

Smith explained this year efforts are being made to include as many people as possible to come out and be involved, also inviting local schools to participate.

“I feel very lucky to be able to provide opportunities like this to the community to deepen their learning and understandings of First Nations, but also giving the First Nations community an opportunity to share their culture through dances, their songs, and even things like having them set up as vendors and showing their talents like that as well,” she said.

According to the town, the public wanted more.

“We also do surveys at the end of all our programs, and the public have been writing on the surveys that they want more Indigenous programs, that they are very interested in learning … going deeper into the history, into the culture and into the dancing,” added Tiffany Carlson, special projects coordinator with the Town of Strathmore Family and Community Support Services.

The National Indigenous Peoples Day event will coincide with a farmer’s market taking place at the Kinsmen Park pavilion, with the aim to attract those who come for the market to also check out the Indigenous programming.

In relation to Indigenous cultures, Carlson added the Town of Strathmore and FCSS are seeking an Inuit facilitator. Anyone who may be interested in talking about what this would entail is invited to contact FCSS at 403-934-9090.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times