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‘Connections in ceremony’ at Kelowna’s Turtle Island Festival

Hundreds of people filled Leon Avenue on June 21
A drumming circle entertaining the crowd at the annual Turtle Island Festival in downtown Kelowna on June 21, 2023. (Brittany Webster/Capital News)

Leon Avenue in Kelowna was packed on June 21 for the annual Turtle Island Festival.

Hosted by the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, Youth Program Coordinator Robert Burns said the festival is all about learning and gathering.

“It’s important to celebrate… because we need to find ways to work alongside one another. The topics that come up revolve around truth and reconciliation and the importance of truth coming before reconciliation.”

The 400-block of Leon Avenue was packed with a large teepee, several Indigenous vendors and community partners, dancing, drumming, singing, and crafts for the kids.

A traditional powwow was held in the afternoon.

“As somebody who is Gitxsan and Heiltsuk… a lot of our ceremonies have revolved around powwows. We do have songs, we do have stories, and we do have dances. I think that’s representative of the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society… there are connections in ceremony that really allow us to understand each other. I think for non-Indigenous people to come out and to share in that and to witness - witnessing is an important part of our culture and to be present in that is super important.”

The festival ran from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society hosts festival for Indigenous Peoples Day


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Brittany Webster

About the Author: Brittany Webster

I am a video journalist based in Kelowna and capturing life in the Okanagan
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