The Westbank First Nation held its 27th annual Siya celebration Friday.
With drumming, dancing, colourful costumes and the richness of aboriginal culture on display for all to enjoy and participate in, hundreds turned out to enjoy the entertainment, food and other activities on offer outdoors at the WFN’s civic centre.
Jordon Coble, cultural and operations administrator for the WFN said the day not only recognized Okanagan culture and the way of life for aboriginal people here in the Okanagan, but was also a celebration of its youth, marking the end of the school year for its children.
The big outdoor party—where all members of the community, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal were invited—went off under sunny mostly sunny skies.
“I’m really proud of what we are doing here today,” said WFN Chief Roxanne Lindley.
As she stood with her grandchildren, aged four and five, Lindley said she could remember attending the first WFN Siya celebration with her daughter when she was around the same.
The chief added she was happy to see representatives from the Central Okanagan School District on hand, as well as many young students from schools throughout the area.
The WFN, which has its own school, made a point of congratulating students graduating from Grade 6 this year and heading to other school in the public system.
“Our children are so important to us,” said Lindley, adding she was grateful to the teachers at the WFN school for the job they do teaching local aboriginal culture to students, something that will help keep Okanagan First Nation culture alive.
WFN Coun. Fernanda Alexander, who sits on the school district’s aboriginal education council, said the relationship with between the WFN and the school district is an important one, and one that recognizes the need to teach today’s children about First Nations’ culture.
“In First Nations, we consider culture healing,” said Alexander, adding that was exactly what the Siya celebration was all about.