Shoppers at City Centre Mall got to see a very special show for the launch of the National Aboriginal Day celebrations yesterday.

With songs, dances, drums and blessings from an elder, the aboriginal community shared its culture with passersby.

Coun. Ron Hayter, head of the Mayor’s Aboriginal Initiative, said the understanding and interest for native culture in Edmonton grew tremendously in the past few years.

“See the people that turned up here today? You wouldn’t have seen that 20 years ago, “ Hayter said.

“The aboriginals were here, but they simply weren’t given any kind of profile. They’re here now and we’re proud of them.”

Continuous efforts from the city and the native community were necessary to achieve this shift, Hayter said.

“The city has been a leader in developing this closer liaison with the aboriginal community,” he said.

“We have a wonderful partnership that has been developed from both sides.”

The National Aboriginal Day, June 21, ties in with the Aboriginal History and Culture Month that started on June 10. Various events will be happening in the city until June 27 to celebrate Canada’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.

As the starter, the weekend festival on the legislature Ground on June 19 will prepare Edmonton with music, dance arts and crafts for the official Aboriginal Day opening ceremonies at Canada Place on June 21.

Len Webber, minister of aboriginal relations, seized the opportunity at City Centre Mall to announce a new Safe Communities Innovation Fund pilot project.

The project targets aboriginal and immigrant/ refugee communities in Edmonton and aims to make them safer by creating an enhanced support system for people at risk. The Alberta government has pledged $500,000 for the project each year.

Latest From ...